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So, the NHL draft lottery wasn’t another guilty pleasure for the Edmonton Oilers.
They didn’t win for the fifth time in the last 11 years, starting with Taylor Hall in 2010 when they had a run of four in six years (Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Connor McDavid), which meant no screams of, “You gotta be kidding!” from the rest of the league.
They had a 12.5 percent chance, same as the other seven teams — Pittsburgh, Toronto, Winnipeg, Nashville, Minnesota, New York Rangers and Florida, all losers in the play-in qualification series round — to get to No. 1 so they could take left-winger Alexis Lafreniere at the NHL draft Oct. 9.
But the Rangers, who had the fourth-worst points percentage of the teams in the lottery at the March 12 pause (.564), got the right bingo ball with their team logo on it. They already have Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider on left wing and they need a centre like Quinton Byfield (Sudbury) or German-born Tim Stutzel more, but Lafreniere is ready right now.
If the Oilers, the Penguins or Leafs had won, there would have been major howling with Lafreniere getting the shot at playing with McDavid or Leon Draisaitl here, Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh or Auston Matthews or John Tavares in Toronto.
But, it’s the Rangers who have better success at the lottery than on the ice. Last year they went from sixth to No. 2 in the lottery and took Finnish right-winger Kaapo Kakko. This year, they get No. 1.
“The seven teams that didn’t win the lottery today … it’s another disappointment,” said Holland. “If you lost the first series, you always had some hope you would be the lucky team in the lotto.”
Holland is certainly a fan of Lafreniere, knowing he might have been a top-six guy right away.
“He’s got good hockey sense, he can make plays, he competes. He’s won two CHL MVP awards and the last guy to do that was Crosby. And MVP in the world junior. Very impressive resume. Appears to be a very good package,” said Holland.
But, the Oilers will still get the 14th pick in the draft because they left the Stanley Cup tournament so early, far better than the selection they were getting at the NHL pause on March 12, based on points percentage. That was No. 20. And depending on how far they had gone in the playoffs, maybe it would have been the 22nd or 23rd pick. So, 14 is a solid spot, where maybe winger Jack Quinn, who had 52 goals in 62 games this past season in Ottawa, might still be there.
“We’re moving up a number of spots,” said Holland.
“Your hope is you draft a player at No. 14 and he plays in the NHL in 2021-22 or 22-23 at the latest.”
Button had a mock draft on TSN Monday and he had the Oilers taking Quinn.
“They’ll get a really good player at 14 and if Quinn is there, I would take him in a second,” said Button. “He’s a right-winger who can score. Best goal-scorer in the draft, so I’m not so sure he’ll still be there.”
Only Nick Robertson (55), who got into three play-in games for the Maple Leafs against Columbus, had more goals than Quinn this past season. In a vote of OHL coaches, Quinn had a better shot than Robertson and Los Angeles 2019 first-round Arthur Kaliyev.
Quinn (six-feet, 179 pounds) is the same size as another junior shooter, Jordan Eberle, but Button is aiming higher than that as comparisons go. “Quinn has a lot of (David) Pastrnak in him,” he said.
“By 14, I think the Swedes (Lucas) Raymond and (Alexander) Holtz will be long gone. At 14, we’re getting into the Jack Quinn, Dylan Holloway, Connor Zary territory, in my opinion. I guess the Oilers could look at a defenceman there but they need forwards.”
Zary (Kamloops) and Holloway (U of Wisconsin) are centres, although Holloway, who was on the winning Hlinka-Gretzky Canadian team in 2018, has played left wing, too. Zary (83 points, 38 goals) plays a Bo Horvat-type game. Holloway certainly didn’t put up big numbers (17 points in 35 games as a freshman at Wisconsin) but most scouts love his skating; he probably equates to Mikael Backlund.
The Oilers need wingers more than centres, obviously, with McDavid and Draisaitl, but they have a glaring need for a No. 3 C. Farmhand Ryan McLeod is a possibility there but he’s no lock.
And did Holland have any lucky socks for the draft lottery like Minnesota GM Bill Guerin?
“Nah, I didn’t wear anything,” said Holland.
This ’n that: Oilers winger Tyler Ennis broke his leg when he caught a rut along the boards as Kirby Dach hit him in Game 3 … With the Oilers going out so early, they’ll likely be keeping their third-round pick in the Milan Lucic/James Neal compensation for this Oct. 9-10 draft because it’ll be in the No. 75 range, and they’ll give Calgary their 2021 third-rounder, instead. They don’t have a second (because of the Andreas Athanasiou trade) or a fourth (in the Mike Green deal) in 2020. If they keep the third-rounder in 2020, they’ve got a year to get the pick back in a trade.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020