Even when there’s no loophole to be found, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello finds a way to come out on top. The New Jersey Devils had a 3.6% chance of winning the NHL draft lottery and appeared destined to pick eighth overall. Instead, luck was on their side and they won the lottery meaning they get to move up four spots and will pick fourth overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft.
What that means for the rest of the field is that the top three stays the same and the Edmonton Oilers will pick first overall for the second year in a row. Colorado will pick second overall while Florida will now pick third. Because of the Devils jump up the ladder, the New York Islanders slipped from fourth to fifth while the Ottawa Senators fall back to sixth overall.
With the Devils rise, we’d have to guess that Lamoriello will not be giving up their first round pick this year. Thanks to their mishandling of Ilya Kovalchuk’s signing over the summer, at some point over the next four years the Devils must give up a first round pick. Fortunately for them it’s their option on when to do so. We’re thinking the Devils will be more than ecstatic to choose from one of the big five prospects available.
Ottawa’s tumble down to sixth is extra frustrating for Senators fans. When the Sens traded Brian Elliott to Colorado for Craig Anderson, the Sens were seemingly set to be neck-and-neck with Edmonton for the worst team in the league. Instead, Anderson’s inspired play rallied the Senators so that they finished with the fifth worst record rather than the worst or second worst mark. That rise in mediocrity cost the Sens anywhere from four to five spots in the draft. If the Sens strike out in the draft again this year, fans will have even more fodder for GM Bryan Murray.
As it is, here’s how the top half of the draft looks after the lottery.
- New Jersey
- New York Islanders
- Boston (via Toronto)
- Colorado (via St. Louis)
As for who goes first overall, our inclination is to believe that Edmonton will make a beeline for Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson. With young forward talent like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, and Linus Omark all blossoming in Edmonton and their defense looking highly suspect, Larsson almost makes too much sense for the Oilers.
Colorado in second would surely make for a nice home for the draft’s top rated prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Avalanche will also have two picks in the top 11 thanks to receiving a conditional first from St. Louis in the Erik Johnson trade.
That would leave talented forwards Sean Couturier, Gabriel Landeskog , and Jonathan Huberdeau left to round out the top five. Other names that could jump up into discussion as the draft draws near are forwards Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad as well as defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Nathan Beaulieu, Ryan Murphy, and Duncan Siemens.
The NHL Draft will happen June 24 and 25 from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Now that we know who’s picking where atop the draft (the rest of the positions will be determined by who loses when in the playoffs), let the mock drafts and speculation begin in earnest.