It was bad enough that the Islanders were a lottery team after advancing to the second round last season for the first time in 23 years. Every NHL team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs (including the Vegas Golden Knights) had a chance at the first overall pick last night. Given that the Isles fell a point shy of the playoffs, their percentage at landing the #1 overall pick was the lowest out of all of the teams eligible, around .9%. So not only did the Islanders not make the playoffs, they also had the worst chances at getting the number one pick in the draft (or a top three pick at all). So when the lottery started a little after 8:00 pm ET, sure enough the first card that was flipped had the number 15 on the front of it and the Islanders’ logo on the back of it. So the Islanders, who had a 97% chance of keeping their position at 15th overall did indeed keep it. I kept watching like I’m sure most Islander fans did and the final results of the lottery proved that when Islander fans thought that things couldn’t get any worse, it did.
Things started getting worse with the Philadelphia Flyers who had an 84.4% percent chance at the 13th overall pick. When the card with number 13 on the front of it was flipped, the Winnipeg Jets’ logo was on it, not the Flyers’ logo, guaranteeing a top three pick for Philadelphia. This situation occurred again when the card with the number eight on it was flipped. The Flyers only had six less points than the Flyers and were one spot behind the Isles in the Metropolitan standings.
The Dallas Stars had a 33.7% percent chance at retaining their position at eight but when on the back of the #8 card was the Buffalo Sabres’ logo signifying that Dallas also would get a top three pick. The New Jersey Devils looked like they’d pick fifth overall but when that card was flipped, the Canucks’ logo was on the back. After all but the top three picks had been determined, there was a commercial break and that’s probably the moment when it clicked for every person watching.
The Metropolitan Division, the league’s best and most competitive division was going to get even better with two of the best three players in the draft going there. When the lottery returned, the number three card was flipped and Dallas was on the back meaning the top two picks in the NHL Draft would be members of the Metropolitan Division.
They went straight to the number one card after that because obviously the team that wasn’t on the number two card would have the top pick. At this point it didn’t matter who was on the other side of the card for fans of any Metro team not named the Devils or the Flyers. But of course, they flipped the card and the New Jersey Devils will be picking first overall with the Flyers right behind them.
The projected top two picks are Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier. Most mock drafts and rankings have Patrick as the first pick but Hischier has made it so close that many will argue that it could be Hischier going first instead. Regardless, those two are likely on the way to the Metro Division and will help two teams that aren’t even that bad get even better in the most competitive division in the league. In addition, the Penguins, Capitals, and Rangers are all in the second round of the playoffs. The Hurricanes, who made an admirable late-season push with a relatively young roster have just made their most recent attempt at fixing their goaltending issue by trading for the rights to Scott Darling. The Blue Jackets just had their best season in franchise history. So the Metropolitan Division keeps getting better and better while the Islanders stay put.