Every year, at the NHL draft, the best eligible players are picked up by NHL franchises. In order to add parity to the league, picks are selected in reverse order to the standings, with the worst teams picking before the best teams.
In order to stop teams intentionally losing games, a draft lottery was introduced to allow any team that misses the playoffs a chance to win the 1st, 2nd or 3rd overall pick…. However, this year teams losing the play-in round, had an opportunity also.
On June 26th we found out that the first overall pick, the best player in the draft, would go to one of these play-in teams, effectively giving a star player potentially to one of the leagues better teams!
Before we get into those teams... Most years, there is a debate who goes first overall and all the panel shows try to add as much drama to the draft… Not this year, everyone knows that Alexis Lafreniere is going first overall.
He is considered to be the best prospect available since Connor McDavid, and slides into that tier just below McDavid and Crosby as a very special talent.
Lafreniere is a physical playmaking winger who possesses a lethal shot when he uses it. For his Junior team the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he has put up 80pts in 60 games as a rookie, 105 in 61 last year and was on 112 after 52 games before the virus cut short his season, this included an 7pt game against the Quebec Remparts in February.
He is the sort of game breaking winger that would boost any team in the NHL’s offense.
So, as I said, one of the playoff teams that lost their play-in round, ends up with not only a top pick, but one of the top prospects of the decade…
There have been some shocks in this years play in round, meaning the aforementioned Crosby and McDavid may have a very talented teammate join their ranks.
We find out Today (10/8/2020 at time of writing) which team is that lucky, and here are the options.
The Pens didn’t get going in their series, and probably were the biggest shock to be eliminated. Since drafting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins have been one of the most successful franchises in the NHL, winning the leagues biggest prize 3 times!
Knowing that time has been of the essence to win cups during their stars primes, the Penguins have neglected their future, trading away prospects and draft picks for NHL ready talent, expecting to need a full rebuild once Crosby and Malkin retire….
If they get the 1st Overall, this all changes, as they effectively ensure that they remain a competitive team for another decade with Lafreniere joining their solid core of players…
He could also massively increase the chance of one more big run for Crosby and Malkin.
The Oilers boast the best player in the league, Connor Mcdavid as well as the highly talented Leon Draisaitl, but not a lot else.
If the Oilers win the lottery, it will frustrate a lot of fans, as they have had their fair share of (and wasted) first round picks such as Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov.
Lafreniere would give McDavid and Draisaitl the offensive help the Oilers desperately want, and finish the rebuild that seems to have stuttered.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs boast one of the most dynamic offenses in the NHL, but when it comes to playoff time, they just can’t seem to get the job done!
Adding Lafreniere to an already stacked offensive core of John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander gives the Leafs two clear paths they can take, keep all the offensive talent and become the most powerful offense in the NHL, or trade one of their existing stars for some much needed help on defence…
whichever the Leafs choose to do, adding Lafreniere is a sure-fire way to cheer up Leaf fans reeling from yet another early exit.
The Panthers are a team lacking a bit of direction. They have talent with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov up front, Aaron Ekblad on D and multiple Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky in net.
Whilst Bobrovsky hasn’t lived up to expectations this year, when on form he is one of the best goaltenders in the League.
Adding Lafreniere to their ranks would give the Panthers a legitimate star and scoring threat.
The Panthers are a team that with this pick, could finally take the step towards being a Stanley Cup Contender and help them get out of the shadow of their state rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Minnesota is a hockey team that is desperate for a game breaking talent like Alexis Lafreniere.
The Wild fans are passionate and haven’t had a lot to cheer about over the last few years. Ever since signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild have been stuck in the limbo of being good enough to get into the playoffs (and not get a high pick) but not good enough to go deep in the playoffs.
This could be their one chance to get a superstar for a good few years!
Nashville are a team that have had to come to the grim reality that their chance to win a cup with their current team has gone!
That is unless they get the chance to draft Alexis Lafreniere.
Nashville once boosted the best D in the league, and rock solid goalie Pekka Rinne ensured that the Preds had a chance every year.
Unfortunately, these players have aged, and whilst they do have some competant skaters in Forsberg and Arvidsson, they are desperate for a superstar!
The Jets are a strange one, They have all the pieces to be a solid contending team, but have never been able to put it all together.
They have a solid offense in Schiefele and Laine, but they seem to be streaky.
Connor Hellebuyck has become a very reliable netty... But once Laine and Schiefele were injured Calgary made short work of them.
Adding Lafreniere would provide not only the star for a franchise still looking to move away from its past as the Atlanta Thrashers, but also the depth they desperately need.
New York Rangers
The Rangers arguably are the team that most deserve Lafreniere.
From being one of the worst teams in the NHL they rebuilt extremely quickly and now have a young core of stars that are ready to help.
Lemieux, Zibenajad, Kakko, Trouba and goaltender Igor Shesterkin provide talent at every position,
By adding Lafreniere, the Rangers will have a league leader at his prime, rather than getting one at the end of their career on a bloated contract.