It’s been a most unusual year. But one thing that’s very normal is the jolt of excitement that’s generated by the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This season, the return of more fans in many arenas seems to have raised the intensity by another notch.
For the teams like the Philadelphia Flyers that didn’t make the playoff dance, the first big date of the offseason is Wednesday, June 2 — the draft lottery.
How The 2021 Draft Lottery Works
The Flyers finished 19th overall in the 2020-21 regular-season standings. But there are three things to note about where they’ll stand when the draft lottery balls drop next week:
- The expansion Seattle Kraken will be given the third-best odds, just like what the Vegas Golden Knights received when entering the league in 2017.
- The Arizona Coyotes are forfeiting their first-round pick as part of their 2020 punishment for draft combine violations.
- The lottery format has changed this year. Instead of the top three picks being drawn, only the top two picks are up for grabs.
With all that in mind, here are each team’s odds of being awarded the first-overall pick:
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 19, 2021
Rather than deleting Arizona and adjusting the odds accordingly, the NHL is leaving the Coyotes in the mix. It will re-draw if the club happens to receive either the first or second selection, so the odds are slightly higher than posted for all 15 clubs.
Where The Flyers Stand
With one less lottery pick up for grabs, the potential outcomes for the Flyers are pretty simple. Tankathon has also left the Coyotes in the mix as it breaks down the relative odds of each possible outcome:
- 1st: 1.8%
- 2nd: 2.0%
- 14th: 91.3%
- 15th: 4.9%
- 16th: essentially 0%
In essence, these numbers tell us that there’s a 3.8% total chance that the Flyers could move up in the lottery, and a likelihood of just under 5% that a team with lower odds (Dallas or the Rangers) will move up and bump them down a spot. It’s almost impossible that both the Stars and the Rangers would win, pushing the Flyers down two places.
Take the Coyotes out of the mix, and the odds of the Flyers picking 13th at the draft are well over 90%.
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What Can A Win Bring?
Of course, Flyers fans have first-hand experience with unexpected draft-lottery wins. In the 2016-17 season — with a new expansion team coming in — the Flyers also finished 19th overall. Off just a 2.4% probability, they moved up to the No. 2 slot in the draft and selected forward Nolan Patrick — banking on his strong pedigree and top ranking among North American skaters by Central Scouting, despite the fact that he played just 33 games in his draft year due to groin issues.
When the New Jersey Devils opted for No. 2 ranked Nico Hischier with the first pick, it seemed like the Flyers had landed a golden opportunity. Four years later, the club and Patrick might be at a crossroads following a healthy but disappointing 2020-21 campaign. That’s a story which will get plenty of attention as the offseason rolls along.
Every year has its share of draft surprises, busts and late bloomers. Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks is currently the top point-producer from the Class of 2017; he was ranked second among European skaters behind center Klim Kostin, who has played just six games to date with the St. Louis Blues and spent most of last season with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL.
Now one of the top stars of his draft class, Central Scouting ranked Cale Makar ninth among North American skaters in 2017. And Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars is showing that he may have deserved even more than a move from 34th at mid-term to 14th in the final rankings. With 46 points in his first 54 NHL games, the 39th pick by the Dallas Stars is quickly charging up the points list from the 2017 group.
Owen Power: Top Prospect
There’s no clear generational superstar set to come out of the Class of 2021. Big Canadian defenseman Owen Power seems to be the consensus No. 1 pick at this point. After that, it’s pretty wide open.
A month ago, Power topped the mid-season draft rankings from Bob McKenzie of TSN, which is compiled from a survey of NHL scouts.
In addition to having a superhero name, Power is a two-way defenseman, listed at 6’5″ and 213 pounds. He spent this season with the University of Michigan, where he put up 16 points in 26 games, but the Wolverines were not able to participate in the NCAA’s Frozen Four tournament in March because of Covid issues. Michigan elected not to release him to join Team Canada for the U20 World Junior Championship last Christmas, and as a 2002 birthday, he was about six weeks to old to join Canada’s gold medal-winning team at U18s in April.
Owen Power is 👀 pic.twitter.com/osc8B02zP3
— Christopher (@ChrisStumps) May 21, 2021
This month, Power is finally making his debut on a Canadian national team, at the men’s World Championship in Latvia. Though the Canadians are off to a tough start with losses in their first three games, he has quickly gained the trust of head coach Gerard Gallant. He played 16:15 in Canada’s 3-1 loss to Germany on Monday, including power-play time.
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Drafting For A Defenseman?
After finishing last in the league in goals-against this season, the Flyers must be thinking about how they can shore up their blue line. As precocious as his build and his talent seem to be, it’s unlikely that he’d be able to step directly into the NHL. And even if he did, his game would need time to evolve.
So don’t fret too much about whether or not the Flyers can hit the jackpot with a lottery win. Regardless of where they pick, a top-15 selection should help the ongoing process of building out organizational depth. That yielded a nice late-season harvest of prospects this year, as players like Wade Allison and Cam York made their NHL debuts.
Also at the World Championship, Ivan Provorov is playing a No. 1 role for the Russian team, anchoring their blue line along with Nikita Zadorov of the Chicago Blackhawks. Russia has two wins in its first three games and sits second in Group A. The top four teams in each group will advance to the medal round after the seven-game round robin is complete.