Prior to the Washington-Pittsburgh playoff game tonight, the National Hockey League announced the results of the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery. With the fourth worst record in 2016-17, the New Jersey Devils entered the evening with an 8.5% chance of winning the first overall pick. The numbers were in their favor. For the second time in franchise history and the first time in New Jersey, the New Jersey Devils won the first overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, which will be held on June 23.
I am ecstatic. The New Jersey Devils crashed hard into 27th place this season with a whopping three wins in their final 24 games. The run was so bad, I came up with a fictional character - Sherman Abrams, the pro-tank enthusiast - to try to communicate whatever value there was in losing. Mr. Abrams is beaming right now. And so am I. While I would have preferred the Devils to be a good, watchable hockey team; being awarded the first overall pick in 2017 does sooth some of the pain from enduring last season.
How It All Went Down
NBC came on at 8 PM and a few minutes was spent as a preview for the lottery. The broadcast opened with a tie-less Gary Bettman standing by a lottery machine almost unaware of a camera. A representative of the third party for oversight brought the cards - the results of the lotteries to the studio. The odds for first overall were reviewed again. A quick word with Joe Sakic of Colorado where he stated that no matter where they finish from one to four, they’ll find a good player. The 30th place team would indeed end up at four by the end.
At 8:08, deputy commissioner Bill Daly began to reveal the results of the lottery.
At 8:10, my heart sank as Winnipeg moved down a spot to 13th. This meant Philadelphia - the Second Rate Rivals - won one of the three lotteries. Their odds of winning either of the three were rather low; but a non-zero probability means it can still occur - and it did.
At 8:11, Detroit was revealed to move down a spot themselves. That meant Dallas won one of the three lotteries. With Philly and Dallas winning lotteries, the Devils needed Buffalo to not be a winner to avoid sliding to their lowest possible spot: eighth place.
Buffalo was not a winner. Seventh was still a real possibility with two teams below the Devils jumping up to the top three. At 8:12, Mr. Daly revealed the most glorious card for seventh overall: Arizona.
This meant the Devils won one of the three lotteries. The Devils were guaranteed a top three pick. I was pumped. Devils fans on this site were pumped. Devils fans elsewhere were surely pumped. The team names ran up: Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Colorado. A commercial break was taken before revealing the top three teams.
The lottery broadcast returned and at 8:16, third overall was announced: Dallas. New Jersey and Philadelphia would split the top two picks. I was hoping New Jersey would get one over on Philly. The Devils absolutely, positively stunk for most of this season but they styled and profiled on the woo-hating Flyers. It would be cruel to see a rival get to pick over them as a last bit of revenge.
Daly held up the #1 card and flipped it over just before 8:17 PM EDT: the greatest logo in the world appeared. The Devils won first overall. Cheers and jubilation from all of the Devils fans following along all over the world.
Speaking of post-lottery reactions, I received word of this video from NBC Universal. It’s Ray Shero’s reaction to the lottery win. Thanks to their producer, Brittany Burke, for passing this on:
What Does This Now Mean?
We can start speculating who should go first overall! We will do plenty of prospect profiles ahead of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in June. We will attempt to cover the players we think may end up when the Devils have their picks. You’ll see them begin later in May. For the moment, there are two players in mind for this pick. Brandon center Nolan Patrick has been the top-rated prospect for this draft class from the start of this season to the end of it. It’s been a rough season due to multiple injuries, but his talents are unquestioned. The other name that has shot up to contention is Halifax center Nico Hischier. The Swiss-born forward has dazzled many with his offensive skill set at the major junior and international levels. There are some other intriguing names that may be considered. It wouldn’t be the first time where the consensus #1 guy for a season falls as the actual draft gets closer. For now, it’s Nolan vs. Nico.
As for Ray Shero, Paul Castron, and their groups, they just have to make sure this pick is a success. While the 2017 NHL Entry Draft class doesn’t have a McDavid or Matthews like player, they absolutely have plenty of young, talented players that can help build a team in the future. With the first selection in their possession - especially since it’s the first time the Devils will be picking first overall - there is no excuse. The Devils have to get it right and get a player that will help in the future.
For now, let me know who you’d like the Devils to draft at first overall in the following poll. And share your thoughts on who the Devils should pick at first overall in the comments as well as your reaction to the Devils’ big lottery win. Thank you for reading!
Who do you want the Devils to draft first overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft
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