Canadiens, Devils Lottery Winners
Montreal entered with the best NHL Draft Lottery odd with an 18.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. The Canadiens did just that and will pick first in the draft for the first time since selecting Doug Wickenheiser with the No. 1 selection in the 1980 NHL Draft.
Montreal probably doesn’t want to be reminded of that selection. Star defensemen Dave Babych, Larry Murphy and Paul Coffey were among the players available, as was Quebec native Denis Savard.
Unlike some of the past years, none of the teams who made the playoffs during the 2022 NHL season will have picks in the lottery.
Canadiens Hit Jackpot
The rules of the draft lottery were changed a bit last year to increase the likelihood of the team with the best odds landing the top pick. There is also a cap on the number of times one team can pick first overall in a five-year span.
Montreal should send a thank-you card to the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings entered the 2020 draft lottery with the best chance to pick first overall and ended up with the fourth pick, which finally led to a change in the lottery format. For the second year in a row, the team with the best NHL Draft lottery odds earned the top pick. Buffalo selected defenseman Owen Power first overall in the 2021 draft.
Montreal’s history with the No. 1 pick ranges from the noteworthy selections of Hall of Fame forward Guy Lafleur and five-time Stanley Cup champion Rejean Houle, to the disappointments from the top three choices in the 1968 NHL Amateur Draft and the pick of Wickenheiser over a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers in 1980.
While there isn’t a Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid or John Tavares in this draft, there is a pretty good chance that the top pick will come out of the Ontario Hockey League, as was the case when Stamkos, McDavid and Tavares went No. 1 overall.
Shane Wright, who had 32 goals and 64 assists in 58 regular-season games with Kingston, is the favorite to be taken first by Montreal.
Draft Lottery Heavenly for Devils
The only movement in the order of the first 16 picks in the NHL Draft lottery odds came when the New Jersey Devils, who had the fifth-best odds, ended up with the second overall pick. That knocked Arizona, Seattle and Philadelphia down one spot. New Jersey had an 8.5 percent chance for the top pick, Arizona was second at (13.5) and Seattle came in at 11.5.
The Devils already have a pair of No. 1 overall picks on the roster. Nico Hischier was the No. 1 pick in 2016 and Jack Hughes went first overall in 2019.
New Jersey took a European product in the top 10 in 2020 when Sweden’s Alexander Holtz was the seventh overall selection. That could be the way the Devils go again. Winger Juraj Slafkovsky, who had seven goals in the most recent Olympics, and defenseman Simon Nemec are among possible No. 2 selections if Wright is taken with the top pick.
Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres Double Their Pleasure
With the Chicago Blackhawks‘ first-round pick not landing in the top two selections, it heads to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the deal for defenseman Seth Jones. That gives Columbus picks Nos. 6 and 12 in the draft.
The Vegas Golden Knights would have kept their first pick if it fell in the top 10 since that was a stipulation of a trade that sent center Jack Eichel to Vegas. The Golden Knights got the 16th overall selection, so that is now the property of the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo now has the Nos. 9 and 16 selections. It is the third time in the last four drafts that Buffalo has multiple first-rounders.
Columbus had three first-round selections in 2021. Kent Johnson had three assists in nine games during the recently completed regular season after scoring 37 points in 32 games in his second and final campaign with the Michigan Wolverines. Cole Sillinger had 16 goals and 15 assists in 79 games as a rookie while defenseman Corson Ceulemans had 22 points in 34 games as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin.
No. 1 Pick Trivia Time
The last time a No. 1 overall pick was named the winner of the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year came in 2016, when Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs won the award.
Taking it one step further, of the 50 players with the best odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s playoff most valuable player, 10 were former No. 1 overall selections.
Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (+500) has the best odds to earn the honor. Matthews (+1000), McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (+5000) and Tampa Bay’s Stamkos (+8000) are other former top selections with the best odds to be named the Conn Smythe Award winner.
The last No. 1 overall selection to be a member of a Stanley Cup champion is Stamkos, who was selected by Tampa Bay first overall in 2008.
Since the 2010 NHL Draft, only MacKinnon in 2013, McDavid (2015), Matthews (2016) and Hughes (2019) were the top point producers in their respective draft classes.
Montreal: Draft Central
Not only does Montreal have the first pick in the draft, but the city will host the NHL Draft on July 7-8.
The last time the draft was held in the city of the team picking first was in 1985, when Wendel Clark was taken with the top pick b the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With the draft being held in Montreal for years, it is no surprise that each time the Canadiens picked first in the past, the draft was also held in Montreal.
Here is the 2022 NHL Draft order (the rest of the selections will be determined following the Stanley Cup playoffs):
- New Jersey
- Columbus (from Chicago)
- San Jose
- New York Islanders
- Buffalo (from Vegas)