Not only are the Montreal Canadiens hosting the NHL Draft in July, they’ll have a chance to be the headliner after winning the draft lottery on Tuesday night.
The Canadiens retained the right to the No. 1 pick, a bright spot after a turbulent season in which they changed coaches, overhauled their front-office, finished last in the overall standings and recently mourned the death of former star Guy Lafleur. expressed.
“I can only imagine the anticipation, excitement and interest building in the Montreal Canadiens,” said general manager Kent Hughes of the city and the fanbase that essentially lives and breathes ‘Bleu Blanc et Rouge’ year-round. “You don’t often pick No. 1 as you expect as an organization, but when you’re in that position, it’s very special.”
The New Jersey Devils’ lottery fortunes continued, winning the second of the two lottery drawings and moving from fifth to second slot. This is the fourth time since 2011 that the Devils are drafting lottery winners, including them landing on No. 1 picks in both 2017 and 2019.
Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said of a team, “Adding another core piece to our group down the road is something that every team wants to continue to do, and it will allow us to do that.” season’s. “So who that player might be, don’t know yet, but we’re excited that we hit the lottery.”
The Devils’ victory moved Arizona from second to third, Seattle to fourth, and Philadelphia to fifth. The remaining slots from 6 to 16 remained unchanged depending on where the teams finished in the standings.
The final 16 spots will be determined in the draft order where teams finish in the playoffs.
This year’s top draft prospect is considered to be Ontario Hockey League center Shane Wright, ranked first among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
Wright, who hails from Burlington, Ontario, and plays for Kingston Frontenac, has the opportunity to become the first OHL player Edmonton picked Conor McDavid with the No. 1 pick in 2015. Wright averaged 1.49 points-per-game. The season ended with 32 goals and 62 assists in 63 regular-season outings.
Wright said he could not watch the draft lottery as he prepared to compete in a playoff game.
Slovakia’s Juraj Slafkowski ranks first in international prospects. He scored seven goals to earn MVP honors at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February and helped Slovakia win bronze – the country’s first Olympic ice hockey medal. The 6-foot-3 winger has a chance to become the most drafted Slovakian-born player since Marion Gaboric was selected third by Minnesota in 2000.
The top American-born prospect is Logan Cooley of the United States Development Program, and ranks second among North American skaters. He is from the Pittsburgh area.
Montreal had the best chance of winning the No. 1 pick – though only 18.5% – and became the 10th team to finish last and retain the top pick since the NHL introduced the lottery in 1995.
The Canadiens had to wait a long time to host the draft, scheduled for July 7 and 8. Montreal was originally scheduled to host the event in 2020, but the last two drafts were held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hughes said it was too early to determine which player the Canadiens might target. Hughes, a former agent, began work on January 19, replacing Mark Bergevin. Hughes also removed the front office in February, fired coach Dominic Ducharme and replaced him with Martin St. Louis, who retains the interim coaching tag.
The Canadiens went from reaching the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost to Tampa Bay in five games, ending 22–49–11 – the franchise’s lowest win in a 60-plus-game season.
Montreal became the first team to host the draft and has been the No. 1 pick since Toronto in 1985, when the Maple Leafs picked Wendell Clark.
The draft lottery also picked two of the top 16.
Chicago’s selection at No. 6 will go to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the trade in which the Blackhawks acquired Seth Jones last summer. Blue Jacket will also choose 12th.