With the playoff picture now completely set, teams that didn’t qualify can turn their attention toward a key date coming up in their prolonged offseasons.
That date is April 29, when it’s expected the NHL Draft lottery will take place, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet on Saturday. It’s a significant time for those teams at the bottom of the standings, as they look to land one of the prized top prospects in the draft two months later.
There is a wrinkle this year, with the addition of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
As you will recall, the new expansion franchise will receive the same odds as the team with the third fewest points in the standings during this season, which means they can pick no lower than sixth overall in the first round.
The top prospect available this year is still Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, whose season was limited to 33 games because of an injury at the start of the year. He scored 20 goals and 46 goals for Brandon. Patrick also missed the first round of the playoffs with a lower-body injury as Brandon fell in four games to Medicine Hat.
While Patrick has been the top-rated prospect for more than a year, Swiss forward Nico Hischier has made a charge since having a terrific showing at the World Junior Championship. Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads this season and added seven points in six playoff games before his team was eliminated by Rouyn-Noranda in Round 1.
The Colorado Avalanche have long since clinched the worst record in the league this year, giving them the best odds at securing the No. 1 overall pick.
The Canucks are 29th in the standings, following a loss in an epic battle to the Coyotes earlier this week. (It was far from epic.)
This year’s NHL Draft goes June 23-24 in Chicago.