One of the few bright spots of finishing outside the Stanley Cup playoffs is the chance to land a lottery pick.
After making the playoffs last season, the Calgary Flames will once again pick in the top ten of the NHL Entry Draft, but where exactly is yet to be determined.
The Flames finished 26th overall this season, which gives them the fifth best chance–at 8.5 per cent–to land the first overall pick on Saturday night when the balls are drawn.
Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke will represent the team in Toronto when the results are revealed. Will he be the lucky charm is the question.
“Well we’ll know Saturday night sometime about that,” general manager Brad Treliving joked. “We said he’s the luckiest Irishman in the building so we sent him…we’re expecting him to come through with flying colours.”
The draft lottery rules have changed a little for this year. Instead of drawing just one ball like in previous years, this year three balls will be drawn.
This will also bring in several different scenarios. The Flames, for instance, can finish as high as first or as low as eighth. The only position they cannot finish is fourth.
“I’d be lying if I said you don’t let your mind wander every once in a while,” Treliving said. “But it is what it is, it’s a lottery. If you look at just the odds, odds would dictate that we’re going to stay where we are or go backwards.”
The Flames have a 9.1 per cent chance of staying in the same position. That would mean three teams that finished below them in the standings were drawn for the top three picks.
The most likely scenario, based on percentage, is the Flames slip down a spot or two.
- Flames draft 5th overall: all three lotteries won by teams who finished below them in the standings
- Flames draft 6th overall: one team that finished higher in the standings is chosen in the lottery
- Flames draft 7th overall: two teams that finished higher in the standings are chosen in the lottery
- Flames draft 8th overall: all three team chosen in the lottery finished higher than the Flames in the standings
If math isn’t your thing, just wait until Saturday night (6 p.m. MT) when NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly will hold up the cards, boasting logos of the three lucky teams who will select in the top three.
The Flames, like any team in the lottery, would be happy just to get into that top three and have a chance at one of the consensus top three players in the draft. Scottsdale, Ariz. native Auston Matthews, and the Finnish forwards Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi.
Matthews ranks at the top of most draft rankings, a big 6’2″ centre who played this season under Marc Crawford in Zurich with ZSC Lions, of the Swiss A-League.
Laine and Puljurjarvi played this season in a Finnish men’s league, and dazzled as 17-year-olds at the World Juniors, leading their country to a gold medal.
“There’s been some distinction between those top three and the rest of the pack. Having said that, there’s very good players after three. This draft isn’t just a three-man draft,” Treliving said. “Our staff and myself are excited about players beyond that.”
While there are still a lot of balls in the air, and scenarios to play out, one thing that is certain is the Flames will have a top eight pick for the third time in the last four years.
The previous two brought in centreman Sean Monahan (6th overall in 2013) and Sam Bennett (4th overall in 2014).
The Flames know regardless of where that pick ends up being, they have to hit with it.
“The rainbow for having a difficult season is you’re picking high, and any time you’re in that top ten, those are picks you have to make…whether it be eight or above, those are critical selections.”