Tuesday evening the NHL will hold its annual Draft Lottery and for the first time in seven years, the Minnesota Wild will be taking a part of the lottery festivities. Minnesota missed the postseason with only 83 points this season and finished dead last in the Central Division.
Entering Tuesday evening, the Wild hold the 11th-best odds of landing the top overall pick with a 3.0 percent chance. And just to land inside the top three, the Wild hold a slim 9.9 percent chance. In other words, not exactly great odds to move up if you are hoping for some good news when the envelopes are opened.
Only once in its history has Minnesota drafted inside the top three, and that was the third overall pick in the 2000 Draft — Minnesota’s first ever — where it drafted Marian Gaborik. Ironically, the Wild have never been able to draft a scorer since Gaborik’s pick 19 years ago.
While the odds suggest the Wild will get the 11th pick, one is left daydreaming about what it would be like for them if they did indeed have the odds in their favor and they were the lucky ones to have their logo inside the No. 1 envelope at NHL headquarters?
Well, let’s imagine this alternate reality…
In front of television cameras, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has just two envelopes left. The two remaining teams in contention for the first overall pick are the Minnesota Wild and the
Ottawa Senators Colorado Avalanche.
After a commercial break, Daly finally steps up and reveals the team that is in the #1 envelope.
“And the first selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft goes to…
…the Minnesota Wild!”
For the first time in their history, the Wild have won the first overall pick. Owner Craig Leipold is elated and general manager Paul Fenton has a huge sigh of relief as he gets to draft potentially a high skill forward that the team is badly needing.
Wild fans finally cheer out, “WE GOT A BREAK! WE GOT A BREAK!” Their team is about to draft potentially a savior as the team potentially was going to descend into a period of below average play after Fenton took a blow torch to former general manager Chuck Fletcher’s core players. Just to make things sweeter for Wild fans, the Wild edged out the Avalanche for that top pick as there is no love lost between the two fan bases.
Now you fast forward to draft night. After over two months of speculation and analysis the Minnesota Wild brass — Fenton and the scouting department — step up to the podium in Vancouver to make their selection.
Fenton steps up to the microphone and declares, “With the first selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Minnesota Wild are proud to select Jack Hughes, center, from the United States National Team Development Program.
“An electrifying player of speed and skill that projects to be a true No. 1 center and one of the top players in the NHL one day,” says the draft pundits on your television. “We have our franchise player, our franchise center in Jack Hughes. A player that will electrify our fans for a long time to come,” Fenton will tell the media afterward.
Then you add Hughes to the Wild roster after they sign him to his three-year entry-level contract, and you have the following as the team’s depth chart before Fenton begins to work the phones in the offseason.
You figure Hughes would start the season at center ahead of Mikko Koivu coming off his injury and behind Eric Staal who will start the year — and his new contract — as the top center. Should Hughes live up to the hype, his days as the second center certainly won’t be for long.
Now you come back to reality and realize that was all just a dream. It still could come to reality, but the truth of it is the odds are severely against Minnesota from having that happen.
As the draft lottery unfolds Tuesday evening, you will find out fairly quickly if the Wild even get bumped up into the top three as the order gets revealed inversely. So if the Wild are not in their projected No. 11 spot when that envelope is opened and it is the team ahead of them — Philadelphia — you know they will at least be selecting in the top three for the first time since 2000.
Again, it is not a likely outcome, but something to daydream about as the Wild are lottery participants for the first time in seven seasons.