2023 Playoffs A Reminder That The NHL Draft Lottery Means So Much

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2023 Playoffs A Reminder That The NHL Draft Lottery Means So Much

Chicago Blackhawks, NHL

When the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery takes place on Monday evening, Blackhawks fans are hoping to land the rights to the number one overall pick, where Connor Bedard is waiting for them. Unfortunately, they have just an 11.5 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick. Whether the Blackhawks land at 1 or 5 on Monday night, the lottery still has a great deal of importance to the rebuild of the franchise.

The only time the Blackhawks won the No. 1 overall pick, this was their warm-up to selecting Patrick Kane. The rest, as the kids say, is history.

Why does the draft lottery matter?

Look around the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It should be painfully obvious that having — and hitting on — a top pick is critical to winning in the NHL right now. But since it isn’t let’s roll through a brief reminder of how some of the teams that remain were constructed.

You’ll notice that every single team in the final eight this season has a former No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick on their roster. Five of the teams has a former top pick; Vegas didn’t select Jack Eichel, however.

In the Eastern Conference, no team hoarded early picks as much — or as well — as the New Jersey Devils. They had two No. 1 overall picks in a three-year span and hit on both; I think we all hope the Blackhawks aren’t bad enough to duplicate that feat. But three of the four remaining teams in the East have a former No. 1 overall pick on their roster that the organization selected.

New Jersey Devils

2015: 1 (6) — Pavel Zacha
2016: 1 (12) — Michael McLeod
2017: 1 (1) — Nico Hischier
2019: 1 (1) — Jack Hughes
2020: 1 (18) — Dawson Mercer*
Mercer was the Devils’ second pick in the first round in 2020. They selected Alexander Holtz 7th.

Toronto Maple Leafs

2012: 1 (5) — Morgan Reilly
2014: 1 (8) — William Nylander
2015: 1 (4) — Mitchell Marner
2016: 1 (1) — Auston Matthews

John Tavares was the No. 1 overall pick by the Islanders in 2009.

Florida Panthers

2013: 1 (2) — Alexander Barkov
2014: 1 (1) — Aaron Ekblad

The Panthers also have Sam Reinhart (No. 2 — 2014), Sam Bennett (No. 4 — 2014) and Matthew Tkachuk (No. 6 — 2016) on their roster via trade.

Carolina Hurricanes

2017: 1 (12) — Martin Necas
2018: 1 (2) — Andrei Svechnikov
2020: 1 (13) — Seth Jarvis

In the Western Conference, there are a number of former lottery picks on rosters, but it’s a little more tricky drawing the direct line from the lottery to the playoffs because two of the four teams remaining are young franchises. Vegas and Seattle are the most recent expansion teams, but they have taken vastly different paths to their current rosters. Vegas spent big right away; Seattle opted to develop their roster. But both have lottery picks impacting their rosters — even if, in the case of the Golden Knights, they aren’t their own selections.

No team has been at/near the top of the draft as frequently over the past decade as the Oilers. And it appears they’re finally seeing the dividends of those picks in the playoffs now after having a few top picks not work out and depart.

Edmonton Oilers

2011: 1 (1) — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2013: 1 (7) — Darnell Nurse
2014: 1 (2) — Leon Draisaitl
2015: 1 (1) — Connor McDavid
2018: 1 (10) — Evan Bouchard

Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas hasn’t had a lottery pick since their first draft in 2017, when they selected Cody Glass at No. 6 overall. But they have former lottery picks Jack Eichel (No. 2 — 2015), Phil Kessel (No. 6 — 2006) and Alex Pietrangelo (No. 4 — 2008) on their roster through acquisitions.

Dallas Stars

2011: 1 (14) — Jamie Oleksiak
2012: 1 (13) — Radek Faksa
2017: 1 (3) — Miro Heiskanen

Dallas also has Tyler Seguin (No. 2 — 2010) and Ryan Suter (No. 7 — 2003) on their roster.

Seattle Kraken

2021: 1 (2) — Matty Beniers

Seattle has only been part of two NHL drafts; they selected Shane Wright No. 4 overall in 2022.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab