Detroit — The Red Wings haven’t been particularly fortunate when it comes to the NHL Draft Lottery.
Is Wednesday going to be different?
They’ll get another opportunity in what has become one of the most intriguing evenings of the offseason for Wings fans.
By virtue of season records, the Wings have the sixth-best odds — 7.6% — of upsetting the field and getting the first pick overall. But, don’t bet on it.
Just consider the last four draft lotteries, which have seen the Red Wings drop back each and every disappointing time.
In 2020, the Wings had the NHL’s worst record, by far, had the best odds of picking first and fell back to fourth overall (Lucas Raymond).
In 2019, they dropped from fourth to sixth (Moritz Seider). In 2018, from fifth to sixth (Filip Zadina). And in 2017, they fell from seventh to the ninth pick (Michael Rasmussen).
This year’s draft lottery will consist of two drawings. The first draw will determine the club selecting first overall and the second draw will who will pick second overall.
The NHL’s Entry Draft will take place virtually, with the first round on July 23 and Rounds 2-7 on July 24.
Given the new tweaks to the draft lottery after last season’s much-vilified ending — the Wings dropped to fourth, while the play-in qualifying New York Rangers won the first overall pick — the Wings cannot pick third, fourth or fifth overall in this year’s draft.
They have a 7.6% chance at first, 7.8% at second overall, 30% at sixth, a 43.8% chance of dropping to seventh and a 10.9% chance of falling to eighth, according to Tankathon.com.
With 12 selections overall — the Wings also have Washington’s first-round pick and three picks in the second round — this is shaping to be another important opportunity for the organization to stockpile young talent.
The Wings have been undergoing a massive rebuild since the arrival of general manager Steve Yzerman, fortifying an organization that was lean on quality prospects after having the made the playoffs 25 consecutive seasons.
The Wings have missed the playoffs the last five seasons, but they are gradually showing signs of coming out of their rebuild thanks to recent draft picks such as Raymond, Seider, Zadina, Rasmussen and Joe Veleno (2018 late first-round pick).
And that’s not to forget a long line of prospects drafted from the second round onward in recent years.
Yzerman repeatedly has said the Entry Draft is the most important way to rebuild, rather than free agency or trades.
Yzerman expects more of the same path this summer. He doesn’t foresee the Wings being aggressive in the free agent or trade market, preferring to cultivate their own talent.
“My approach has been you look for opportunities, you wait for opportunities to come along,” Yzerman said during his end-of-season media call. “When I have tried to force something (trades) and chase something, it hasn’t really worked out. Along the way, I have never really tried to do something to make a splash. There has to be a reason for it, a good reason, thinking you’re going to be a better team.
“I don’t want it to just look good, it has to actually be good. Anything along the way that might make sense, I am not opposed to signing a free agent. Any particular trade that may come along, you have to find a partner first. There are a lot of players around the league that I would like to add to the Red Wings. I just can’t convince another GM to give them to me.
“In general, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense for us to be trading draft picks and prospects for players that might not be here in three, four, five years.”
Another interesting aspect of this year’s draft, much like last year, is how the pandemic has affected junior hockey and NHL scouting of young talent.
Many junior leagues saw their seasons scrapped or severely limited by the pandemic — be it North America or Europe — limiting exposure for those young players who could be drafted.
The Entry Draft is always a bit of a crapshoot, but it rarely will be as unpredictable as this year’s event.
“It’s been an interesting year as far as scouting,” Yzerman said. “Kris Draper (Wings’ amateur scouting director) and I talk a lot and I ask him about this year’s draft and next year’s draft. At least they (scouts) are watching the majority of the kids for this year’s draft, or they watched them last year.
“The ones that have played this year, with technology now, if you can’t get there, you can see it on video and you do the best you can. Some kids didn’t play, there’s nothing we can do about that. Either you don’t pick those kids or you rely on what you saw last year.
“The draft is very unpredictable, hit and miss, (and) it probably is more unpredictable this year. You can look at it two ways in that you just may get really lucky or you may get really unlucky. Time will tell. Our scouting staff is doing the best they can to evaluate and look for prospects.”
Buffalo, given its NHL-worst record, has the best odds of landing the first overall pick at 16.6%, followed by Anaheim (12.1%), expansion Seattle (10.3%) and New Jersey (10.3%).
NHL Draft Lottery
► When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
► TV: NHL Network
► Red Wings: The Wings have 12 picks overall and two in the first round (own and Washington’s). They have a 7.6% of winning the lottery and selecting first.
► Odds of picking No. 1: Buffalo 16.6 %, Anaheim 12.1%, New Jersey 10.3%, Seattle 10.3%, Columbus 8.5%, Detroit 7.6%, San Jose 6.7%, Los Angeles 5.8%, Vancouver 5.4%, Ottawa 4.5%
► Likely top pick: Michigan D Owen Power
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