The NHL Draft Lottery used to be appointment viewing for Colorado Avalanche fans.
The Avalanche have been too busy winning, so they haven’t been involved in the draft lottery since 2019. Even that draft pick wasn’t their own, as it came from the Ottawa Senators. It eventually was used on Bowen Byram. I’d say that turned out alright.
Recent drafts haven’t come with much fanfare. There have been good players available, but no one that looked like they could singlehandedly alter the course of a franchise.
That changes this year.
Connor Bedard, who will absolutely go first overall, looks to be a generational superstar. He put up an absurd 143 points in just 57 WHL games this year, and led Canada at the World Junior Championships to a gold medal. He’s a game changer, but he’s not alone. It’s a strong draft at the top, and unfortunately for the Avalanche, the odds are pretty good they’re going to be seeing a lot of some of those players. They benefited from some high draft picks, and now other teams will do the same.
Let’s take a peak at what to look for in Monday night’s NHL draft lottery from an Avalanche perspective.
Stay Out Of The Division
Three teams in the Central Division have a chance to land Connor Bedard – Chicago (11.5%), Arizona (7.5%), and St. Louis (3%). Arizona also has an additional pick in the lottery that has a 2.5% chance of moving up, but the highest that pick can go is sixth overall. Ottawa made sure that pick is top five protected.
While all these teams have holes to fill beyond a generational player, a rebuild gets a heck of a lot easier if you land someone who looks like a surefire star. The Avalanche, like every other team in the league, don’t want to see him land in their division.
Chicago is just exiting the Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews era, so to see another superstar fall into their laps would probably sting a little bit for fans of opposing teams.
There are a lot of good players in this draft, and given the odds, a high draft pick is probably going to end up in the division, but avoiding Bedard would be ideal.
Bedard To The East
There are more Western Conference teams that have a shot at Bedard than there are Eastern Conference teams. In fact, three of the four teams with the best odds are in the West. If you’re the Avalanche, you’re hoping it’s one of those East teams that jumps to the top of the line.
Also, there would be some fun combinations in the East. Imagine Washington grabbing Bedard, and pairing him with Ovechkin at the end of his career. Does Ovechkin suddenly break that NHL goal scoring record a little quicker?
Columbus getting a star to pair with Gaudreau would be a lot of fun. They’ve had trouble keeping good players, but that’s a solid hockey market with a fan base that is dying for some success.
We won’t talk about the Red Wings…
Could Anything Change The Trade Market?
Arizona was already rumored to be open to dealing a Nick Schmaltz or a Lawson Crouse at the trade deadline. If they did move up and snag a Bedard or a Fantilli, does that change what they want to do with those two?
Evgeny Kuznetsov’s time in Washington may be coming to an end. He makes a lot of money and is signed for two more years, but there have been rumblings a change may be needed. A jump up the draft board could expedite that. And if they can replace him with someone on an entry-level deal, could they be willing to retain some salary to make it happen?
Same goes for Philadelphia and Kevin Hayes, who the Avalanche were linked to at the trade deadline.
Where Bedard lands could change the entire landscape of the league. The Avalanche, along with every other team, will be watching closely.
The NHL Draft Lottery takes place May 8 at 6 PM MST.