Why Montreal Canadiens Fans Should Be Cheering for All The Wildcard Teams

Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens season ended when the regular season came to a close. But that doesn’t mean the month of May is going to be a quiet one for the Habs. There are former Habs to watch in the playoffs, the World Championships, and a few first round pick details to sort out.

First, we have the NHL Draft Lottery which is coming up in just two days. The Canadiens finished 32nd in the NHL standings this season, so they have the best odds of winning the top pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

A lottery is held for each of the top two picks, and even though the Canadiens have a better chance than any other individual team of earning the top pick, it is still just a 25.5% chance of happening. Their most likely outcome if still to drop to third overall, and we will find out on Tuesday evening.

While the lottery will determine where the Habs first pick will end up, their second pick in the first round is worth keeping an eye on in the first couple rounds of the playoffs as well. The Habs added a first round pick from the Calgary Flames in the trade that sent Tyler Toffoli west. That pick could be as late as 32nd overall, but it might be much earlier if the Flames…. flame out early.

The way the final draft rankings are determined go like this:

The top two picks are chosen via a lottery. The rest of the non-playoff teams are slotted in according to regular season standings. That will determine the first 16 picks of the opening round. The next 16 picks go to the playoff teams and are determined by playoff success as well as regular season standings.

Picks 17 through 28 will go to teams that lose in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The final four picks of the first round go to teams that make it to the conference final. The Stanley Cup winner picks 32nd, the Stanley Cup finalist selects 31st and the two conference final losers pick 29th and 30th with the team that had more regular season points picking 30th.

Picks 17 through 28 go to the teams that didn’t make the conference final, with one stipulation. Any team that won their division in the regular season but didn’t make the conference final, picks directly before the conference finalists.

The Flames won their division, running away I might add but that really doesn’t matter, but it means they will pick later than teams that lose in the second round, even if they lose in the first round.

What is all means is this: if the Flames win the Stanley Cup, the pick they send to the Habs will be 32nd overall. If they lose in the Cup final, the pick is 31st. If they lose in the conference final, it is either 29th or 30th, depending on whether the other conference final loser had a better regular season.

But, if they don’t make the conference finals at all, it could be significant earlier.

The Flames had the worst record of all four division winners, so if all division winner lose in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Flames pick would be 25th overall. Right now, the Florida Panthers are trailing their opening round series 2-1 to the Washington Capitals. The Carolina Hurricanes are up 2-1 in their series against the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche are dominating 3-0 over the Nashville Predators.

The Flames themselves have fallen behind the Dallas Stars 2-1 in their opening round playoff series. As a Habs fan, you want that trend to continue and you want the Capitals and Bruins to win their series as well. Then, you want the Avs to lose in the second round, moving the pick the Habs are acquiring up to 25th.

In the end, drafting 25th instead of 32nd may not prove to be a huge difference. But trying to move up seven spots on draft night is pretty costly. Obviously, the higher the pick the better, and the Canadiens late first round pick could be quite a bit higher if the playoff series play out the right way.

With no Canadiens games to watch in the playoffs this year, cheering for wildcard teams to knock off division winners gives Habs fans a reason to tune in every night in the first two rounds.

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