The Vancouver Canucks’ lost season has left them with one silver living: a low pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
At tonight’s lottery, the Canucks are joined by four other Canadian teams – the Toronto Maple leafs, the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Winnipeg Jets – with a shot at the first overall pick in this year’s draft, to be held in June in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
14 teams have a shot at the No. 1 pick, with all except Anaheim missing the playoffs this season. Anaheim picked up a top 14 pick in a deal with the Ottawa Senators, which saw the Sens pluck Bobby Ryan from the Ducks in exchange for Jakob Silfverberg.
The Canucks go into tonight’s lottery with a 6.2 per cent chance of drawing the No. 1 pick.
Vancouver has the sixth-best odds of snatching first overall, behind the New York Islanders (8.1 per cent), Calgary Flames (10.7 per cent), Edmonton Oilers (14.2 per cent), Florida Panthers (18.8 per cent), and the Buffalo Sabres (25.0 per cent).
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a 3.6 per cent chance of drawing the No. 1 pick, eighth overall. Winnipeg is just behind them with a 2.7 per cent chance.
The top-ranked player by this year’s Central Scouting is the Kingston Frontenacs’ Sam Bennett, followed by Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts and then Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice.
However, today’s ISS April rankings shuffled Central Scouting’s list, giving Reinhart first overall status, ahead of Ekblad at No. 2 and Michael Dal Colle of the Oshawa Generals at No. 3. Bennett came fourth in the ISS rankings.
Realistically, it’s unlikely that Vancouver would be able to draft one of Reinhart, Ekblad, or Bennett. However, if the Canucks can squeeze into the fourth or fifth overall spot, they may have a shot at Leon Draisaitl.
The shifty, speedy German forward plays for the Prince Albert Raiders and put up 105 points in 64 games this year, playing on an eighth-place Raiders team.
Some pro scouts and executives – like Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray, who will most likely pick first – believe Draisaitl is right up there with the project top three.
“Draisaitl, I saw him out there, he probably played the best game for me out of the five I’ve seen him in the last game,” Murray told his local WGR550 radio. “A big, strong centre iceman, a tremendous offensive zone player, great hockey sense, great vision, protects the puck really well, sticks his ass out, guys roll off him, he knows where they are without looking at them; he just knows that.”
VIDEO: Leon Draisaitl Highlights – Hat Trick vs Swift Current (2014)
VIDEO: Sam Reinhart Highlights and Story from Shaw TV
VIDEO: Sam Bennett Highlights (from bigwhite06)