The Colorado Avalanche lost the draft lottery in 2017 — and won the best player of that class anyway.
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On June 23, 2017, Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic stomped up to the mic at the NHL draft in Chicago and selected Cale Makar. He didn’t thank the city of Chicago or the hosting Blackhawks. He just blurted his pick.
It’s not that he was disgruntled about the locale or the host city — though it would be understandable if he looked a little askance at a division rival. Rather, it was that he was selecting at the #4 position. And the player he’d wanted had just gone third-overall.
The 2016-17 season was a total and utter disaster. The Colorado Avalanche had the worst record in the salary cap era as they eked out just 48 points. It was a tough year to be an Avs fan. By the midway point of the year, you didn’t even get mad at losses anymore. There was no more passion.
Oh, how we dreamed of those players. Such generational talents! Our historically bad season could be wiped away with this great pick.
Enter the draft lottery and the hockey gods who seemed to hate us. Our historically bad season was followed by an historically bad draft selection. The Colorado Avalanche literally lost the lottery. They dropped all the way to the #4 position.
Watch Joe Sakic’s reaction at the Draft Lottery. You can’t really see the moment when the announcer calls Arizona — and he realizes three teams have been skipped, so the Avs have fallen. However, there’s a small tightening of the face:
Unbelievable. I was so angry. I was beside myself. The team that won the draft lottery, the New Jersey Devils, had 22 more points than the Avs. The Dallas Stars, who got the #3 position, had 31 more points! And the team that selected second overall, the Philadelphia Flyers? They had a whopping FORTY MORE POINTS!!! Almost double what Colorado had.
Fast forward to draft day. The numbers one and two selections were no surprise except to see who would go first and who second. Hischier went to the Devils, while Patrick went to the Flyers.
It was the third-overall selection that was the dagger in the heart, though. Sakic tried to keep the information secret, but he wanted Miro Heiskenan.
And that’s who the Dallas Stars went and selected. So that’s why I believe Sakic dispensed with pleasantries and just announced his selection with the fourth-overall pick — Cale Makar.
It may not seem like much, but in previous drafts Sakic was more polite.
Cale Makar. I thought he was just a flash in the pan. I didn’t think he was the best the Avalanche could do after that horrendous season.
Fast forward to today, and I’m all “Miro who? I don’t know her.” I wouldn’t trade Makar for any of the three players who went before him.
The Colorado Avalanche got just the player they needed. He’s a leader on and off the ice. And, boy, his play is amazing — right in the team’s style.
We’re pretty much just a stan site for Makar now. Witness:
- Brilliance of Makar’s Wrist Shot
- Makar Could Be Captain
- Graves Raves about Makar
- 10 Fresh Facts about Makar
We’ll also duel to the death that Cale Makar deserves the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.
So, a revisit of the 2017 NHL Draft finds that the Colorado Avalanche got the best player of the lot. It was our consolation prize for the 48-point season and loss of the draft lottery.