The Canucks have had six top-ten draft picks over the last eight years. Three have been unqualified successes — Bo Horvat is the captain, Elias Pettersson the franchise forward, and Quinn Hughes the number one defenceman.
Two of their other top-ten picks — Jake Virtanen and Olli Juolevi — haven’t panned out as planned, while the jury’s still out on Vasili Podkolzin, who will make his debut next season.
Will the Canucks add another top-ten pick to the team at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft? They’ll find out on Wednesday.
The NHL draft lottery will take place on June 2, with the league drawing the names of two teams to pick first and second overall out of the 15 teams that missed the playoffs and the expansion Seattle Kraken. The announcement of the draft order will be aired in Canada on Sportsnet at 4pm PST.
There are five different outcomes for where the Canucks could pick, ranging from first overall to 11th. To help you prepare for the draft lottery, I’ve put together the odds of the Canucks getting each pick and presenting a guide for an appropriate reaction to the news.
1st — 5.4%
Appropriate reaction: Bridled excitement and unbridled dread
Getting the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft should be a cause for raucous celebration. It’s something Canucks fans have been dreaming about for over 50 years. The Canucks have never picked first overall — though they briefly held the first-overall pick in the series of trades that netted them the Sedin twins in 1999.
But that excitement will be tempered by a few different things. One is that there’s no clear cut superstar in this draft. There’s no Nathan MacKinnon, Rasmus Dahlin, or Auston Matthews. There’s definitely no Connor McDavid.
There’s also a ton of uncertainty heading into this draft because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scouts faced travel restrictions that prevented them from getting in-person viewings, while some prospects saw parts or all of their seasons cancelled. That presents a unique challenge for scouting, with many teams having to depend far more on video scouting than they would normally, and could result in wildly different drafts lists from every team with little certainty, even at the top of the draft.
The Canucks getting the first overall pick for the very first time in such a turbulent environment seems almost inevitable, whatever the probability actually says.
Of course, the first time ever for the Canucks to get the first overall pick is when there’s so much uncertainty and there’s no clear-cut superstar. Of course.
That’s when the dread sets in. Mess up the first overall pick and that mistake will haunt you for years to come.
Still, picking first overall is a good thing. Right?
2nd — 5.7%
Appropriate reaction: Comfortable joy
There’s something that just feels right about the Canucks picking second. They picked second in their very first season after losing a spin of the wheel to the Buffalo Sabres. They picked Trevor Linden, Petr Nedved, and Daniel Sedin second overall. Second overall is a pretty good place to be.
If the Canucks pick second, it means they won the draft lottery! Sort of. Two teams will be picked, one for first overall and one for second overall and getting picked at all is pretty great.
Picking second avoids the sheer dread of picking first — what if the first overall pick is more of a Nail Yakupov or Patrik Stefan! — and also sheds any pressure to pick the “consensus” first overall pick, if there even is one this year. Instead, the Canucks could feel free to lean right into their draft board and pick the guy they like the most.
Honestly, there’s unlikely to be much differentiation between first and second overall in this draft, so picking second is like picking first, just without all the pressure.
There will still be a top-tier defenceman or centre at second overall. It’s a good place to be.
9th — 58.6%
Appropriate reaction: Either a resigned sigh or frustrated regret
Picking ninth is the most likely outcome for the Canucks, which makes sense. They finished 24th in the NHL this season, eighth-last. Add in the Kraken and you get ninth overall.
The reaction to this very likely event could vary depending on who gets those first two picks.
If some combination of the Kraken, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, and New Jersey Devils get the first two picks, a resigned sigh is appropriate. Sure, the Canucks didn’t get a top pick, but the four teams most likely to get those picks did. What are you going to do?
If one of the other four teams who finished behind the Canucks gets one of the top two picks — the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, and Los Angeles Kings — then the reaction will involve a lot more regret.
The Canucks went 2-1-1 over their last four games of the season. They were meaningless games — the Canucks were not only already eliminated from the playoffs, the playoffs had already started for other teams — but those five points caused the Canucks to leapfrog from 28th up to 24th.
If one of those teams from 25th to 28th gets the first or second overall pick, then it will be hard to dismiss the thought that one or two fewer wins would have put the Canucks in position to get a top pick.
10th — 28.0%
Appropriate reaction: Annoyed grunt
This is the second-most likely result and it’s a frustrating one. Falling from ninth to tenth means that one of the seven teams that finished ahead of the Canucks in the standings won the draft lottery and will pick first or second.
That includes a team like the New York Rangers or Dallas Stars, who just barely missed the playoffs and will now be able to add a top-tier, potentially NHL-ready prospect to an already good team. That's certainly worth an annoyed grunt or one of those "hmmm" sounds that Marge Simpson makes when she's angry.
Worse, the team could be a Canucks rival. If the Calgary Flames or Chicago Blackhawks get the first or second-overall pick, you have my permission to add a cuss word to your annoyed grunt. I also recommend keeping a small stack of papers nearby that you can then throw into the air dramatically.
11th — 2.4%
Appropriate reaction: RAGE
TWO TEAMS THAT FINISHED AHEAD OF THE CANUCKS PICKING FIRST AND SECOND, KNOCKING THEM OUT OF THE TOP TEN????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!! IT’S A CONSPIRACY!!!! IT’S ALL RIGGED, I TELL YOU — RIGGED!!!
THERE WAS ONLY A 2.4% CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING, WHICH MEANS IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!! THE NHL HATES VANCOUVER!!!! THIS IS 2011 ALL OVER AGAIN!!!
I AM NEVER WATCHING ANOTHER NHL GAME IN MY LIFE!