By Allan Madriaga
If only the Winnipeg Jets had the same lottery luck I had when I ran the NHL Draft Lottery simulation online.
I kid you not, three of the first six times I simulated the draft the Jets came away with the first overall pick!
Last Saturday, however, the Jets weren’t as lucky. When the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery was completed the Jets dropped one draft position, falling from 12th to 13th.
This is the second year the NHL used the new draft lottery system. The top three draft picks are determined by three separate lotteries. In previous years, only the first overall pick was determined by a lottery. This new system was put in place to further discourage teams from ‘tanking’. Tanking is intentionally losing regular season games to finish lower in the standings. Since the lottery system is weighted, the lower you finish in the regular season standings, the better your odds are at winning one of top three overall picks.
At the end of the regular season the Jets finished in 20th place. In a 30 team league, this would have gotten the Jets a tentative 11th overall pick. As a result of the league expanding next season, the NHL granted the Vegas Golden Knights a tentative third overall pick. This bumped the Jets down to tentatively select 12th overall. The 12th spot gave the Jets 2.7% odds to win the first overall pick, and an 8.8% chance to pick in the top three. After last Saturday’s lottery results, the Jets wound up with the 13th overall pick.
Drafting in the 13th spot is not bad at all. The last time this happened was in 2013. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff selected a defenceman named Josh Morrissey.
Morrissey finally cracked the Jets roster this season and has been an excellent player for this hockey club. No doubt, it would have been nice to get a higher pick, especially with two Winnipeggers, Nolan Patrick and Cody Glass, ranked in the top five. On the other hand, the Jets scouting department has a great track record and I have full faith Cheveldayoff will pick the right player at the 13th spot.
In my opinion, the Jets GM should address this hockey club’s immediate needs. The Jets are only a few players away from being playoff contenders. The team’s fan base is also getting antsy. To add more pressure, Cheveldayoff only has one year remaining in his current contract. He has the assets, both in draft picks and players, to acquire the players this team needs to get to the post season next year.
So what should Chevy do at this upcoming draft? Some pundits are describing the 2017 draft class as weak. Should he trade a few draft picks and some forward players to add some defensive depth? Or will he trade a pick to acquire a veteran goaltender before the draft, similar to what the Carolina Hurricanes did to get Scott Darling? My instincts tell me Chevy will do what he does best – draft players for the long-term future.
Stay tuned. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft takes place on June 23 and June 24 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
What would you do with the Jets’ first round pick? Let us know on Twitter: @FJAllanMadriaga and @FJHockeyCorner