Montreal Canadiens Now Guaranteed a Top 4 Pick in 2022 NHL Draft

NEW YORK - APRIL 07: The balls in the lottery machine during the 2008 NHL Draft Drawing (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images for the NHL)
NEW YORK - APRIL 07: The balls in the lottery machine during the 2008 NHL Draft Drawing (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images for the NHL) /

The Montreal Canadiens lost their 8th straight game game last night, this time a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the also struggling Ottawa Senators.

Both teams have known for a long time that they won’t be participating in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Perhaps no one has been resigned to that fate as long as the Montreal Canadiens this season.

The team fired its head coach, Dominique Ducharme after 45 games resulted in a putrid record of 8-30-7. They sat last in the standings when they hired Martin St. Louis to replace Ducharme behind the bench and after last night’s loss, they find themselves at the bottom once again.

Later last night, the Arizona Coyotes stormed back from a three goal deficit in the third period to tie things up against the St. Louis Blues. The game went to overtime and the Blues quickly ended it to get their two points in the standings. The overtime loss gave the Coyotes another point which ties them with the Canadiens at 51.

The Canadiens have fewer regulation wins than the Coyotes (14 compared to 16) so that gives the tiebreaker to the Coyotes and puts the Canadiens last in the NHL standings.

With just three games left to play, the Canadiens dreadful season looks like it could give them the best odds at winning the draft lottery and selecting first overall in the 2022 NHL Draft. That would be quite the silver lining, especially considering the draft will be held in Montreal and the prize is a terrific all-around centre named Shane Wright that could form a formidable one-two punch with Nick Suzuki for the next decade (or more).

The Seattle Kraken lost last night, but their 58 points put them seven ahead of the Habs with just three games to play. That means last night’s loss to the Sens guarantees the Canadiens will finish either last or second last in the final standings.

Now, finishing last is no guarantee of picking first overall. But, with lotteries held for just the top two picks, the team with the worst record can fall no lower than third. So, finishing last guarantees a top three pick and finishing second last ensures the team will pick fourth overall at worst.

If the Canadiens finish last overall, their chances of landing the top pick via the lottery are just 25.5%. They would have an 18.8% chance of falling to second overall and a 55.7% chance of ending up with the third overall pick.

If the Coyotes finish last, the Canadiens will have the second best chance of winning the lottery, which is only a 13.5% chance of moving up one slot and grabbing the first overall pick. They would have a 14.4% chance of staying at second, a 32% chance of falling to third overall and a 40.2% chance of selecting fourth overall.

The lottery system ensures no team has a really great chance of landing a first or second overall pick. This ensures teams don’t enter a team looking to tank, though the existence of the Arizona Coyotes would prove teams do still begin a season thinking about the draft reward at the end of the year.

The Canadiens surely didn’t intend on being this low in the standings at the outset of the season. However, since we knew for months that the playoffs were out of the question, it is an added bonus that the team will end up with at least a top four pick instead of a late season run that moves them down to a 9th or 10th overall selection after a lost season.

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