Price is Right: No team has waited longer than Canucks to pick first at the draft

May 10 2023, 10:03 pm

sekeres and price

Cursed is a strong word. But I’m open to ideas on how to describe the Vancouver Canucks’ relationship to the NHL entry draft, and more recently the NHL draft lottery.

Of all the teams that remain without a first overall pick in their history, none have been around as long as the Canucks. It’s a list of recent and semi recent expansion teams, plus the Whalers/Hurricanes, Flames, and Canucks.

Also, there’s a particularly high amount of salt in the wound when teams that have made a habit of doling out heartbreak to the Canucks end up getting multiple generations of first round picks, to further the trauma.

Wayne Gretzky and the 1980s Oilers beat up on the entire Smythe Division, and what happens later? Maybe the second-best player to walk the planet, in Connor McDavid also ends up an Oiler and might be poised to block the Canucks as well.

The Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews led Blackhawks doled out years of frustration en route to their Cups, including the Duncan Keith elbow on Daniel Sedin. And literally the season after they finally turn the page on that era, they get Connor Bedard.

The Colorado Avalanche have won Cups, and had to wait just four years after Joe Sakic retired to get Nathan MacKinnon — not 50 or 60 years like the Canucks.

And then there are the expansion teams that have only recently joined the league and already enjoyed the fruits of the first-overall tree. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators have picked first overall three times each, while the Atlanta Thrashers (2) and Columbus Blue Jackets (1) have also had the top pick before.

And of course, don’t get us started on the Canucks’ own expansion cousins from 1970, the Buffalo Sabres. They got Gilbert Perreault that fateful year. They’ve had three more since, including Owen Power and Rasmus Dahlin recently.

It staggers one to think really.

The critics will say the Canucks have got what they deserved. That they’ve been chronically mismanaged. Well, the hockey gods didn’t seem to hold that against the recent Oilers, Sabres or Devils. And if ever there was a franchise that would have bad kharma to clear, it would be the Blackhawks, in the wake of the Kyle Beach scandal.

I don’t believe in curses. That’s not the right word, but I don’t have any alternatives given the last 53 years.

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