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Eight current NHL franchises have never picked first in the NHL Entry Draft. As every Vancouver Canucks fan knows, the Canucks are part of that unfortunate group.
Granted, the team has picked second a few times. The team drafted Dale Tallon in 1970 after losing a roulette wheel to their expansion brethren Buffalo Sabres (who would of course take Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault). The Canucks had some better fortune with their other second overalls, including getting Trevor Linden in 1988 and being the benefactor of some Brian Burke magic in 1999, when the former general manager drafted a pair of identical twins.
But that elusive first overall pick would have come in handy sometime in the last several years, in which the Canucks have been bottom dwellers.
Alas, the Canucks have routinely been jumped over by teams that finished higher than them in the standings. And while Vancouver has slim odds of coming up in the lottery and picking first (5.4 percent) in tonight’s draft lottery, we can’t help ourselves to think of a couple reasons that it would just be so classic Canucks to win the lottery this year.
The first is that the team won a bunch of meaningless games down the stretch to improve their position in the standings and tank their draft lottery odds. With a plethora of fans rightly complaining that this was a bad development for a team that theoretically should be losing games, it would be very karmic for playing hard down the stretch to actually reward a team.
There’s also the matter that this draft is one of the hardest to judge in recent history, mostly due to the fact that many junior players had their seasons cut short or didn’t play much at all thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. There also isn’t a homerun, can’t-miss prospect the likes of a Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews or Nathan MacKinnon in this draft. For the seasoned, sky-is-always-falling Canucks fan, this would of course be the year the team gets first pick.
Another thing that would make getting the top pick hilariously ironic is that rearguard Luke Hughes, younger brother of Canucks’ defenceman Quinn, is one of the higher rated prospects on the board. But most pundits have big defenceman Owen Power (what a name) going first.
What a decision that would be if the Canucks got first pick: How do you not pick the brother of one of your star players? And as enticing as it would be to have two Hughes brothers on the blueline, what if Power is actually the better pick? Then Quinn decides he’d rather join his brothers in New Jersey in a couple years. (Years of Canucks fandom has done damage to my brain, clearly.)
So yeah, this of course would very much be the year the Canucks win the draft lottery.
Or, you know, a much more likely scenario happens and the Seattle Kraken get the first overall choice (they are tied for the third-best odds at 10.3 percent) and use it as the foundation to dominate their cross-state rivals for years to come.