Colorado Avalanche: Evaluating the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 29: NHL official loads the lottery ball machine during the NHL Draft Lottery at the CBC Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 29, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 29: NHL official loads the lottery ball machine during the NHL Draft Lottery at the CBC Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 29, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche have the best odds for securing a top-three pick in the 2019 NHL Draft thanks to owning Ottawa’s first-round selection.

The Colorado Avalanche will have two first-round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft. Their own pick is only semi-interesting. They finished #17 in the NHL, so they should have the #15 pick (I’m basing that on My NHL Draft). Because they made the playoffs, that pick is not eligible for the draft lottery.

The NHL’s draft lottery consists of a weighted system that determines the selection of picks #1 through #15. The top three picks are up for lottery, and a team’s chance at those three picks depends on their final standings.

Final standings determine the remaining picks, #s 4 through 15. Making the playoffs renders a team ineligible for the draft lottery, which is where the Avs are. So, even though they finished in the bottom-15 of teams, they reached a playoff berth in the Western Conference. The Montreal Canadiens, with a better record, did not earn a berth in the Eastern Conference. Montreal will have a chance at the draft lottery.

The Avalanche will have a shot at the draft lottery, too, though. They own the Ottawa Senators’ pick as part of the Matt Duchene trade.

The Senators finished last in the NHL, so the odds of their pick being the first-overall is 18.5%. There’s a 16.5% chance the pick will be a second-overall selection and a 14.4 percent chance it’ll be the third-overall.

So, in other words, the Colorado Avalanche have just under 50% odds (49.4%) of winning a top-three pick. As we well remember from the 2017 NHL Draft, though, that’s no guarantee. Colorado finished with the worst record in the salary cap era and fell to the fourth-overall position:

  1. New Jersey (finished #27 with 70 points)
  2. Philadelphia (finished #19 with 88 points)
  3. Dallas (finished #24 with 79 points)
  4. Colorado (finished #30 with 48 points)

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Even though the Avalanche got a fantastic prospect in Cale Makar with that fourth-overall pick, I’ll never completely get over losing the draft lottery. Colorado wanted Miro Heiskenan and deserved Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick.

Anyway, that year was different, though. The Avalanche had endured that painfully bad season only to be further smacked with losing the draft lottery. This year, they have a chance in the playoffs and at a top-three draft pick. Even if the ridiculous happens again, fourth-overall for a team that made the playoffs is still gravy — much more palatable than enduring first the 48-point season then the draft lottery loss.

Moving back to the 2019 NHL Draft. The top two draft prospects are center Jack Hughes and right wing Kaapo Kakko. While Hughes is the fan favorite to go first-overall, there is some discussion of whether Kakko should go first. If Colorado wins the first-overall, we’ll explore that issue.

You also want to ask yourself a Hindsight is 20-20 question. Should the Ottawa Senators have given the Avalanche last year’s first-round pick?

Last season Ottawa dropped two spots to get the fourth-overall. They could have given Colorado that pick as part of the trade deal, but they chose to keep it and draft Brady Tkachuck. Now, they have no choice but to give their first-rounder to Colorado. If they “win” the draft lottery, it’s the Avs picking first- or second-overall.

Finally, if Ottawa’s pick falls to #3 or lower, who should Colorado select? After Hughes and Kakko, there is no clear consensus on who the third-best prospect will be.

Sportsnet has right wing Vasily Podkolzin at #3 and center Dylan Cozens at #4. My NHL Draft also has Podkolzin at #3 but defenseman Bowen Byram at #4. Again, though, that’s a topic we’ll explore once we know at what position Colorado will be choosing with Ottawa’s pick.

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The 2019 NHL Draft Lottery takes place on Tuesday, April 9 starting at 6 pm MT. The lottery takes place in Toronto, but it will be televised an hour-long show on NBCSN, Sportsnet and TVA Sports.