When Bill Daly flipped over the card that had the logo of the Arizona Coyotes for the fifth overall pick, fans of the Montreal Canadiens felt a win that they haven’t felt in months, maybe longer.
It meant that the Canadiens were guaranteed a selection in the top three.
Due to the funny nature of the Draft Lottery, the Canadiens, who finished fourth from the bottom in the NHL standings, actually had a higher chance of moving down (68.4%) in the Draft than staying put or moving up.
So when the card showed the Coyote, it was already a win.
The only reason it doesn’t feel like it is that it meant everyone had two periods of hockey to dream about Rasmus Dahlin or Andrei Svechnikov. If it had been a mere commercial break, ending up in third wouldn’t have seemed as disappointing as it did for many fans.
But let’s be clear. Although it’s a let down to be revealed third after waiting for hours, it should not be a disappointment. Filip Zadina is great. He put up very similar numbers to Nico Hischier at the same age. He would be in the conversation for top spot in most drafts. He’s the type of dynamic offensive talent you don’t get to take when you make the playoffs. Heck, he’s not the type of player you get to draft when you’re outside the top five.
The Canadiens may not have the choice of who they want from the top three, but when the top three is this strong, that’s not a problem. And it sure beats the alternative of picking at the end of the top five or seven.
This is a very deep draft, and there is top end talent well into the top 10. The results of the draft lottery aren’t so much about the Canadiens moving up into the top three, which, let’s face it, is a nice bonus. It’s also about not dropping down. In 2016, they got Mikhail Sergachev at nine, who has turned out to be a great pick.
Now they don’t have to get lucky. At third overall, they get their pick of who they want, and if Carolina goes off the board, it becomes even more attractive. And if they like a lot of players, they can even trade down and get more assets.
All in all, it was a positive night for the Canadiens organization and after the season they had, it’s nice to be able to smile a bit.
4+5+6+8 = 3
It was the four ball combination of 4-5-6-8 that gave the third pick to the Canadiens, and it was actually the second draw the NHL completed for the third pick. The first draw came out as a Buffalo Sabres win, but they had already won the first pick so a redo was necessary.
It will be the second time in six years that they will pick third overall. In 2012, they took Alex Galchenyuk. These are the only two times the Canadiens will select third overall in the modern era of the NHL Draft that started in 1969.