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 followed a turbulent season in which they finished last in the overall standings, retaining the right to the No. 1 pick.
The New Jersey Devils shook up the draft order by moving from fifth to second slot in the draft by winning the second of two lottery drawings.
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.
Montreal eventually managed to score a major victory after a season in which the Canadiens were undone by a series of injuries and free-agent losses, which led to the team firing coach Dominic Ducharm and general manager Mark Bergevin. . Kent Hughes took over as GM with Martin St. Louis still holding the title of interim coach.
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.
The time to win the lottery is at least with the long wait for the Canadiens to host the draft, which is scheduled for July 7 and 8. Montreal was originally scheduled to host the event in 2020, but the final two drafts were held remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
It is the fourth time the Devils have won the lottery since 2011, including in 2019, when they moved from third place to No. 1 to elect Jack Hughes, and in 2017, when New Jersey moved from fifth to first. went away. The Devils also won the lottery in 2011 that moved them from eighth to fourth, when teams were restricted from advancing by more than four places.
The NHL adapted its rules for this year, limiting lottery winning teams to only 10 places in the draft order. Another rule that went into effect this year prohibits teams from winning the lottery more than twice in a five-year period.
The lottery determined the top 16 selections, with the remaining 16 to determine where the teams end up 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 Brampton, 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 would not watch the draft lottery, as he was preparing to compete in a playoff game.
Slovakia’s Juraj Slafkowski ranks first in international prospects.
Slafkovsky 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 prospect’s next move would be to participate in the NHL’s Rookie Combine, which will be held in Buffalo from May 29 to June 4.
The draft lottery also picked two of the top 16.
The Chicago pick at No. 6 would be transferred 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.
The Buffalo Sabers will now have three first-round picks after adding a number 16 Vegas pick as part of a trade that sent Jack Eichel to the Golden Knights in November. Buffalo will also choose the ninth and also owns the Florida Panthers’ first-round pick, which will not be determined until the playoffs are complete.