The Montreal Canadiens will not make the playoffs this year. They also aren’t likely to end up with the first overall pick. What are their chances of winning the lottery and grabbing Alexis Lafreniere?
The Montreal Canadiens are going to miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Usually, when a team’s fans know they are not going to have playoff hockey to cheer for, they want their team to lose as many games as possible late in the season so they secure a better draft pick.
This isn’t necessarily the most exciting part about being a fan, but it does make sense that the worse a team does in the regular season, the more it will pay off in the long run because they will draft a better prospect.
The Habs missed the playoffs two years ago and had the fourth worst record in hockey. They received a little lottery luck and moved up to the third slot and took center Jesperi Kotkaniemi with that pick. Last year, the Habs were supposed to be in the worst place an NHL team can find itself. They just missed the playoffs so there was no chance at a Stanley Cup run but they also didn’t make a selection until the 15th overall pick, so they shouldn’t have been able to get an excellent prospect.
Well, they didn’t really adhere to the latter part of that statement because they drafted Cole Caufield in the first round. He was the best goal scorer in the history of the United States National Development Program and went on to lead the Big Ten Conference in scoring as a freshman at Wisconsin this season.
Adding a terrific left winger early at this draft would give the Habs quite a trio to build around up front. It just so happens that there is a phenomenal left winger at the top of the draft and he is from the province of Quebec.
Alexis Lafreniere is going to be the first overall selection at this year’s draft which is being held at the Bell Centre in Montreal. What a major coup it would be for the Habs to finish their this consecutive season without playoffs by drafting Lafreniere to reinvigorate the fanbase.
But what are the chances? With the draft lottery scheduled for April 9th, there is a chance someone not named the Detroit Red Wings jumps up and drafts Lafreniere even though the Wings have already locked up the final place in the standings with their putrid season.
In fact, chances are that Detroit will not be the team selecting Lafreniere. They will finish last in the standings and thus, have the greatest chance at winning the first overall pick. However, they only have an 18.5% chance of winning that selection. The NHL has changed the weighting to discourage teams from trying to lose late in the year, so this gives everyone that misses the playoffs a chance of winning the first overall pick.
Right now, the Habs are in 23rd in the overall standings, which gives them the ninth best chance at winning the first overall pick. If they finish the year in this position, they would have just a 5% chance of winning the lottery and selecting Lafreniere.
They do have 11 games left to play and there are teams behind (ahead?) of them in the overall standings that could jump them and give the Habs a better chance. The Chicago Blackhawks are just one point back of Montreal and have two more games to play. The Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils have three less points and have played two less games so they could conceivably jump over the Canadiens as well.
The Anaheim Ducks are four points back and have played one less game so they have a chance of passing the Habs as well. The San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings are all at least eight points back and will not be passing Montreal.
If all of the other teams do, Montreal would have the fifth best chance of winning the lottery. This is really best case scenario for the Habs right now as there is no way San Jose goes on a ten game winning streak to end the year and jumps over a handful of teams in the standings.
If the Canadiens end up with the fifth best odds at winning, they would still only have an 8.5% chance of drafting Lafreniere. That barely improves things from their current odds of 5%.
It is also possible the Habs go on a hot streak but they won’t be passing many teams in the standings. They are three points behind the Arizona Coyotes and have played one more game. The next team in front of them is the Minnesota Wild and they are six points up on the Habs and have played two less games.
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The Canadiens are not having a great season, but it looks like they will only have between a 5% and an 8.5% chance of turning this lost season into a positive by winning the lottery and drafting Lafreniere.