The Arizona Coyotes could have their franchise's fortunes turned dramatically for the better with a little luck in this year's Draft Lottery. If you haven't been paying attention this year, here's everything you need to know before the ping pong balls drop at 5 PM Arizona time.
What Are the Coyotes Chances?
The Arizona Coyotes finished in 29th place in the NHL, which would allow them to draft 2nd overall. But depending on how their fortunes go, they are not wedded to that position
The Coyotes select first overall if: They win the Draft Lottery. They have a 13.5% chance of doing so, which is the second-best odds of any individual team.
The Coyotes select second overall if: The Buffalo Sabres win the Draft Lottery. As Buffalo is the only team to finish with a worse record than the Coyotes, they would not bump the Coyotes down the draft order. Buffalo's odds of winning the Draft Lottery are 20%, better than any other club.
The Coyotes select third overall if: Any of the twelve eligible teams besides Buffalo and Arizona win. The winning team would move ahead of Buffalo to first overall, Buffalo would drop to second, and Arizona would drop to third overall. This is the least desirable scenario, but also the most likely, as there is a 66.5% chance someone other than Arizona or Buffalo wins.
Why Does It Matter So Much?
Even though the consensus 3rd-6th best prospects in this year's draft are quite good, the top two picks are something truly special. Jack Eichel, the consensus second overall pick, is a uniquely talented center with good size, speed, a ton of skill, and excellent hockey instincts.
The unanimous first overall pick, Connor McDavid, is a generational talent the likes of which the NHL has not seen since Sidney Crosby. McDavid in Sedona Red would give the Valley of the Sun its first bona fide superstar since Larry Fitzgerald was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004. He would also be only the fourth first overall pick of an Arizona sports team, after Justin Upton was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005, and Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner were selected first overall by the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.
What Happens if Arizona Doesn't Win?
It will be disappointing, but it isn't the end of the world. Most players at the top of the draft class are excellent prospects, and the Coyotes will have plenty of options between Noah Hanifin, Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, and Lawson Crouse. But missing out on the top two would be one last punch to the gut after a miserable season in Arizona.
When it comes to a rebuild, timing is everything. The Arizona Coyotes need their best prospects to enter their prime scoring years at roughly the same time. They also need their window to open as other teams' windows are closing. The NHL Draft Lottery would go a long way to ensuring that the Coyotes emerge as a Western Conference powerhouse and a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.