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Canucks can’t get the first-overall pick in the 2022 draft lottery

…which means this is probably the year they win it.
Buffalo Sabres win the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announcing the winner of the 2021 NHL draft lottery.

The Vancouver Canucks have never picked first overall in the entire history of the franchise. They won’t be breaking that streak this year.

The Canucks will find out exactly where they’ll be picking in the first round later today. The results of the NHL Draft Lottery will be broadcast live on Sportsnet at 3:30 p.m. ahead of the evening’s playoff games.

Since they finished with the 18th-best record in the NHL — 15th-worst — they don’t have particularly good odds of winning the draft lottery but, even if they do, they won’t move up to the first overall pick.

Unlike in previous years, the winner of the draft lottery won’t necessarily get the first-overall pick. Instead, teams can only move up a maximum of 10 spots. The lottery will be run twice for the first and second-overall picks, but even if the Canucks win either one, they won’t be picking first or second.

The highest the Canucks can pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft is fifth overall. As Canucks luck goes, this would be the year they actually win the Draft Lottery.

Of course, the odds are significantly against that happening. The Canucks only have a 1.1 per cent chance of winning either lottery and moving up. The Vegas Golden Knights have the same odds of winning and moving up to the sixth-overall pick, giving the Canucks a 1.1 per cent chance of being bumped down to the 16th-overall pick.

I take it back, the most Canucks luck thing to happen would be dropping down from 15th overall to 16th overall.

The most likely result is that the Canucks stay exactly where they are — 15th overall. There is a 97.9 per cent chance of that happening. 

You might notice that 97.9 plus 1.1 plus 1.1 equals 100.1 per cent. Now, you could chalk that up to rounding to one decimal place or you could believe that there’s a secret negative 0.1 per cent chance that the results of the draft lottery somehow send the Canucks’ first-round pick into a void of darkness from which nothing can escape.

At least this year the Canucks have their first-round pick. They haven’t picked in the first round the last two years, sending their 2020 first-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the trade for J.T. Miller and the 2021 first-round pick — ninth overall — to the Arizona Coyotes as part of the trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.

New Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford has a track record of trading away first-round picks. In his seven seasons as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, he traded away six first-round picks, albeit in a very different situation than where the Canucks currently find themselves, but he's pledged the Canucks won't do the same.

“I want to be careful with our trades,” said Rutherford when he was initially hired by the Canucks. “I don't want to trade draft picks, unless they're later round picks. It's not the cycle we're in to trade high draft picks.”

The Canucks need to build around and add to their young core. The best way to do so is by draft more young players, who can come into the organization on cheap, entry-level contracts.

“For us to become a consistent playoff team and a consistent contender, we need to build up the depth of the organization,” said new Canucks GM Patrik Allvin. “And that’s through the draft and signing of European and college free agent players.”

Moving up in the draft and picking 5th instead of 15th would certainly help. Allvin, Rutherford, and the rest of Canucks nation will be waiting anxiously to see if that will happen.