For the 52nd time in franchise history, the Vancouver Canucks will not be picking first overall in the NHL Entry Draft.
That was decided on Wednesday, when the results of the draft lottery were announced. There were two drawings in the lottery for the first and second-overall picks and the Canucks won neither draw. On the plus side, the Canucks didn’t exactly lose the draft lottery either.
In the four previous draft lotteries the Canucks have been involved in since 2016, the Canucks have fallen down the draft order, with teams passing them for the first, second, or third overall picks in the draft lottery. As a result, the highest the Canucks have picked in the last seven years is fifth overall.
This year, at least, the Canucks didn’t move down. They had the ninth-best odds in the draft lottery and will pick ninth overall. That was the most likely result for the Canucks at 58.6% odds.
In fact, the entire draft order was almost entirely unchanged. The Buffalo Sabres, who were by far the worst team in the NHL this season, had the best odds to win the first-overall pick. Suure enough, they won the first-overall pick. It’s the second time in the last four years they will pick first in the draft, taking Rasmus Dahlin first in 2018.
The only change to the draft order is that the expansion Seattle Kraken bumped up one spot from third to second, giving them a slightly higher chance of getting a player that can immediately help them compete in their first season.
The Canucks have picked ninth overall three times in their history, getting three great players: Bo Horvat, Cam Neely, and Bob Dailey. Regrettably, two of those great players spent their best years on other teams after lopsided trades: Neely became a Hall-of-Famer with the Boston Bruins while Dailey was the Philadelphia Flyers number one defenceman until a freak ankle injury ended his career.
Dailey at least got the Canucks the loveable Jack McIlhargey, leading to a long association with the Canucks as a coach, scout, and alumnus.
Canucks and the first-overall pick
The Canucks have held the first-overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft just once in franchise history.
It was in 1999 and they held the pick for a very brief period of time. It was part of a series of trades that led to the Canucks picking both Daniel and Henrik Sedin at second and third overall.
The Canucks had the third-overall pick and executed several trades to get the first-overall pick from the Chicago Blackhawks. They could have used the first-overall pick to take Daniel Sedin and the third pick to take Henrik, but they wanted to be able to call both of them to the stage at the same time. So, they traded the first-overall pick to the Atlanta Thrashers, with the understanding that Atlanta would take Patrik Stefan — the consensus top prospect in the draft — leaving both Sedins for the Canucks.
Trading out of first overall worked well for the Canucks. Stefan was one of the biggest draft busts in NHL history, netting just 188 points in 455 NHL games — not what you would expect from a first-overall pick — and the Sedins turned into franchise forwards and future Hall-of-Famers with the Canucks.