For the first time in a very long time, the Arizona Coyotes are not concerned with the draft lottery. If they had lost their series against the Nashville Predators they would have had a 12.5% chance at “winning” the first overall pick. But instead of focusing on which ball gets drawn the Desert Dogs are instead looking towards their upcoming series against the Colorado Avalanche.
But the lottery will move forward, and today we learn which team will win the chance to draft forward Alexis Lafrenière. It is hard to know how successful Lafrenière will be, and first overall picks have been busts in the past, but he will help any team that drafts him.
The Coyotes may not be in the mix, but like every team, they will be affected by this draft. The winner will add a significant piece, which will make them far more dangerous in the future.
Future Division Rivals
Are these teams good? Bad? Who cares. The Coyotes will be moving to the Central Division and it is better for them if they aren’t having to play against Lafrenière six times a season.
The Predators won just one game in a series most people predicted them to easily win. Despite heading home the Predators were the better team for large stretches of the series, and if not for Darcy Kuemper they likely would be advancing not the Coyotes. And while it may be tempting to want to see a fellow Sunbelt team get ahead, the Coyotes are set to join the Central Division when Seattle comes into the league and I would rather the Coyotes not see Lafrenière that many times during the regular season.
The Wild also play in the Central Division so them getting Lafrenière is not ideal. But unlike the Predators who have some great players and can still do damage, the Wild just kind of exist. They aren’t terrible by any means, but they are middling and seem poised to be middling for the near future. If the first overall does end up going to a team in the Central the Wild are probably the best option for the Coyotes.
No Coyotes fan wants to see the Atlanta Thrashers get the first overall pick when the Coyotes have missed out on the lottery so many times. The Jets already got their high pick when they drafted Patrik Laine second overall and he has been good enough for them, no since giving them another scorer.
These teams are already good, adding Lafrenière to them just seems unfair.
The Pittsburgh Penguins already have far too many offensive weapons, no fan should want them to add another. Sidney Crosby may no longer be the best player in the world with the emergence of Connor McDavid (more on him in a bit), but they still have plenty of high-skill players who can score almost at will. Granted, they didn’t get that offense when they were bounced by the Montreal Canadiens in four games.
The Leafs are a stacked team, probably not as bad as the Rangers, but not as good as the Penguins. They have John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews are already more than enough power, no need to give them any more. Like the Oilers also are not far removed from a first overall pick. But getting first overall now will hopefully make them feel better in four years when Matthews decides to go home.
The Edmonton Oilers
They’re the Edmonton Oilers.
The Edmonton Oilers have arguably the best hockey player in the world right now in McDavid. The Oilers have also drafted first overall four times in the past ten drafts and during that time they have made it to the playoffs once where they lost in the second round to the Anaheim Ducks. And while the chance to see another first overall pick get squandered by the Oilers, Edmonton should be banned from winning the draft lottery indefinitely.
The Mixed Bag
Not exactly good but also not terrible.
New York Rangers
The Rangers were the only team to be swept in the play-in round but considering they didn’t seem likely to make the playoffs that shouldn’t be too surprising. The Rangers already have a few strong forwards who can seemingly score a will, including Artemi Panarin who set career highs in both goals (32), assists (63), and points (95), despite him skating in fewer games during the 2019-20 season than he had in any other season. The Rangers also play in the Eastern Conference so the Coyotes won’t have to worry too much about seeing Lafrenière but he could jump-start a possible rebuild and make New York dangerous in a few seasons.
The safe bet
Easily the best option for the Coyotes fans.
The Florida Panthers have some pieces, but they also have the giant albatross that is Sergei Bobrovsky’s contract. When they were eliminated by the New York Islanders they fired their General Manager Dave Tallon which could see the Panthers turn things around in the next few seasons. But given the Coyotes only meet the Panthers twice a year, them getting better isn’t going to hurt the Desert Dogs too much.
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Who would you like to see win the lottery and draft first overall? Comment with your pick below.