Canucks: Staying put at ninth overall at 2021 NHL Draft Lottery

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 06: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman prepares for the first round of the 2020 National Hockey League Draft at the NHL Network Studio on October 06, 2020 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 06: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman prepares for the first round of the 2020 National Hockey League Draft at the NHL Network Studio on October 06, 2020 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks were finally able to win a draft lottery.

Well, kind of.

After four consecutive years of dropping spots, followed by one offseason without a first round pick at all, the Canucks were able to withstand being knocked down a peg to actually hold onto the position that they had the best odds of winning.

In other words, the team won by staying put, landing the ninth overall spot.

Entering the draft lottery, the Canucks had a 58.6% chance of selecting ninth overall. But, as many fans had pointed out, they also had a 28% chance at tenth and, given their recent draft history, it made complete sense that alarm bells were going off in Vancouver.

Over the span of those unlucky four years, the Canucks fell a total of seven spots, including their drastic descent from second to fifth overall in 2017.

In hindsight, of course, the Canucks are probably quite happy with their misfortunes. They were able to acquire future franchise centre Elias Pettersson in the aforementioned 2017 blunder, and also landed offensive blueliner Quinn Hughes in 2018, after falling from the sixth spot down to the seventh.

Yes, the jury is still out on defenceman Olli Juolevi, who was selected fifth overall in 2016, the year that the Canucks were the third-worst team in the league. And yes, we’ll still have to wait and see if former 2019 tenth-overall pick Vasily Podkolzin will pan out (although all signs are currently pointing towards a smooth NHL transition).

But, as we all know, the Canucks were coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history, battling an unruly combination of COVID-19, key injuries and a jam-packed schedule, and didn’t need one last gut punch heading into their playoff-less summer, the fifth in their past seven seasons.

It all worked out in the end, and the Canucks are able to walk into the offseason relatively unscathed and with a win in their back pocket, all while every fan, coach and member of management continues to hope and pray that this will mark the first of many years without any bad lottery luck lingering in the city.

The Buffalo Sabres were also able to put their lottery woes to bed, finally securing the first overall pick with their 16.6% odds, the highest amongst any team. Newcomer and soon-to-be-rival-club Seattle Kraken were given a helpful nudge forward from the expansion hockey gods, jumping up one spot to second overall, despite having only the third-best odds at a top-two selection.

The only real losers were the not-so-mighty Anaheim Ducks, who eventually dropped to the third overall pick as a result of the Kraken’s good fortune.

Back to the Canucks.

Would it have been nice to make that long-awaited jump to the top of the draft board, especially given what the team has gone through not only during their most recent 56-game campaign slugfest, but also throughout the dark, gloomy days of their unsuccessful rebuild? Absolutely.

And there’s no doubt that the glass-half-empty crowd would be the first to tell us that the Canucks would’ve entered the draft lottery with a much higher chance at selecting first overall had the team not gone 2-1-1 in their last four meaningless contests.

But, even if they hadn’t picked up five out of the possible eight points at the end of the season, the Canucks would’ve still only ended up with the fifth-best odds for number one, with the chances sitting at less than 10%.

Factor in their previous draft history, and the minimal movement that eventually transpired from all 15 teams involved, and let’s face it. The Canucks’ overall shot at landing the number one pick would’ve probably ended up being as long as Willie Mitchell’s hockey stick.

Fortunately for the franchise, however, it appears that general manager Jim Benning is perfectly fine at where his team ended up.

As per the tweet, we don’t know what Benning is planning on doing with the pick, nor do we know which prospects are currently on his top-nine list.

But, despite a seven-year tenure that has undoubtedly been filled with untimely mistakes and poorly-executed decisions, Benning’s drafting strategies are not part of that mix, which should be a bit of relief for Canucks’ fans moving forward.

And even if a handful of future NHL superstars end up being selected ahead of Vancouver on draft day, the Canucks should still have faith in where they’ll be drafting. The last player to be selected ninth overall by Vancouver, you ask? The captain himself, Bo Horvat.

The first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will take place on July 23rd, 2021, two days after the Expansion Draft for the Kraken, giving fans plenty of time to make up their mock draft lists.

Next. Vasily Podkolzin should make an instant impact next season. dark

What are your thoughts on where the Canucks landed during the draft lottery? Make sure to drop a comment below!