So the last NHL Draft Lottery saw the Rangers rewarded for being the first qualifying team eliminated from the expanded bubble playoffs, earning the right to draft the coveted Alexis Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick in 2020.
Out popped the itty bitty pingpong ball with the Blueshirts’ crest and with it came extensive baseless conspiracy theories of how the lottery was rigged – just like when the Knicks landed Patrick Ewing in 1985. Meanwhile, in Rangerstown, that very pingpong ball was hailed as a gift from the hockey gods, photoshopped in a priest’s hands and garnered celebrity status amongst the fans.
Let’s just say, the Rangers squeezed every last drop of content out of that white plastic sphere. It’s only right that they have a one percent chance of it happening again.
The Rangers’ odds may be at the bottom in the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery, which airs 7 p.m. Wednesday on NHL Network, but after having either the No. 1 or No. 2 picks in the last two drafts it may be time to share the wealth.
It should be much easier to do with the emergence of the NHL’s 32nd franchise, the Seattle Kraken, which will embark on their first season in 2021-22 after the expansion draft on July 21. Much like the Vegas Golden Knights during their inaugural draft lottery participation in 2017, the Kraken is guaranteed no lower than the fifth-overall selection.
Seattle owns a 10.3 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick, which was calculated to accommodate the addition of a 16th team in the lottery. Additionally, the Coyotes will fulfill the second half of their punishment for violating the league’s combine test policy in 2019-20 by forfeiting their 2021 first-round pick.
The bottom-dwelling Sabres have the best odds (16.6 percent) at drawing the No. 1 pick. Then the Ducks, who finished six points ahead of Buffalo for the second-worst record in the league, at 12.1 percent.
But the Devils are right in the thick of the teams with the greatest odds, owning the same percentage as the Kraken at 10.3. If the Devils scored the first-overall pick, it would be the third time in five years.
While Lafreniere was the undisputed crown jewel of 2020, the closest player to that description is likely Michigan defenseman Owen Power, who was a star in the USHL in 2019-20 and then carried his talents over to the Wolverines with 16 points in 26 NCAA games.
The next tier of players would be U.S. National Team Development Program defenseman Luke Hughes (the younger brother of Devils’ 2019 first-overall pick Jack Hughes), Michigan center Matthew Beniers, OHL center Mason McTavish, WHL forward Dylan Guenther, SHL forward William Eklund, U.S. NTDP forward Chaz Lucius and Michigan forward Kent Johnson.