The NHL draft lottery hasn’t been kind to the Vancouver Canucks in the past two years, but don’t expect them to finally get lucky in 2018. They aren’t bad enough to contend for it.
Such is life with the NHL draft lottery system, which saw the Canucks fall down to fifth in 2016 and 2017 despite finishing 28th and 29th in the league standings in those years, respectively. It was frustrating for the Canucks and their long-suffering fans, to say the least.
There is hope for redemption, however. The 2018 draft offers two can’t-miss prospects in Swedish defenceman Rasmus Dahlin and big Russian scorer Andrei Svechnikov.
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So it’s justified for Canucks fans to hope for a tanking season that could put them in position to finally get lucky in the draft lottery.
But there are a few factors that work against the Canucks chances of landing one of Dahlin or Svechnikov.
For starters, the draft lottery system in itself. The Canucks are probably not going to be the NHL’s worst team next year.
Even if they were, they will only have an 18 percent chance of landing the top pick, and a 16 percent chance at second.
Assuming the Canucks miss the playoffs,they’ll simply have to bank on getting lucky like the Philadelphia Flyers did this year — when they landed the second pick (and Patrick), despite facing just a 2.4 chance of getting that selection.
But there are more factors as to why I’m not holding my breath on the Canucks winning the lottery, other than the long odds themselves.
Many worse teams
Thanks to some prospect promotions and some nice signings by general manager Jim Benning, the Canucks look poised to improve in 2018. There are also a handful of teams that look even worse than the Canucks, at least on paper.
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights are probably going to be the worst team, at the very least among the worst. The Colorado Avalanche will continue to plummet, when you factor in that a Matt Duchene trade is inevitable. Then there are the New Jersey Devils are devoid of talent at forward and on defence, and look poised for another top-five pick.
The usual-frustrating Arizona Coyotes will also be in the Pacific Division basement with the Golden Knights. The Buffalo Sabres look poised for another letdown season, and the Detroit Red Wings are paying the price for signing past-their-prime veterans and avoiding a complet rebuild (sound familiar, Canucks fans?)
So in my opinion, the Canucks aren’t bad enough to be a bottom-five team. If they miss the playoffs, expect them to fall in that 20th-23th range.
Canucks will be better
With Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen expected to play big roles in 2018, the Canucks will be younger and faster. Those two, coupled with newcomers Sam Gagner, Thomas Vanek and Michael Del Zotto, will surely help the Canucks score a bit more in 2018.
Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund are all coming off career years, so you can expect them to help the Canucks starving offence even more. Really, this Vancouver team will not be as bad as the last two years.
Considering how many of the teams mentioned above lack the forward depth and young talent Vancouver owns, it’s tough to see the Canucks once again being a bottom-five team in the NHL. That makes their draft lottery chances very, very low.
So if you’re on Team Tank, prepare for disappointment. The Vancouver Canucks may not be good enough to make the playoffs, but they’ll be decent enough to take themselves out of prime draft lottery contention.