The NHL Draft Lottery is scant hours away, and the fortune of one NHL team is about to change. The consensus number-one pick, Connor Bedard, is a special player who could transform a franchise. The Capitals have a six-percent chance of being that lottery-winning team — about the same chances you have of rolling a crit on your d20 — which means probably someone other than you is going to have a good night. And in some cases, that’ll be bad news.
We have already prepared for you a comprehensive primer on how the lottery will run, but here now is what I think Bedard would do for each team in the running, whether or not them getting him would be a good thing for the universe, and — naturally — what J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings thinks of each situation.
Chance of winning: 18.5%
The Ducks were by far the worst team in the league last season. Bedard won’t fix them, but a top-six anchored by him and Zegras would at least be fun. Fun is good, even if it’s futile.
Tolkien Rating: Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Columbus Blue Jackets
Chance of winning: 13.5%
The Blue Jackets were not trying to be a lottery team last season, which is sad really. They signed Johnny Gaudreau in free agency last summer, and he’s gotta be thinking he made a mistake now. The Werenski injury was a catastrophe for them, but that shouldn’t obscure the truth that they’re bad. Bedard will make them better, but they’ll still be a bad team lost in the wilderness of wherever in Ohio they are; I refuse to look at a map of Ohio.
Tolkien Rating: All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with light.
Chance of winning: 11.5%
Absolutely not. The Hawks are one of the worst-run teams in the league with a past they refuse to reckon with and a wretched owner. Great city though, especially this time of year. I’d love to be in Wicker Park eating a hot dog today.
Tolkien Rating: Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them.
San Jose Sharks
Chance of winning: 9.5%
I’m curious what kind of GM Mike Grier will be for San Jose. Landing Bedard would be a warp-zone shortcut to the “oh he’s elite” conversation, but he’d have to build around him. In the meantime, any shift with both Bedard and the rejuvenated Erik Karlsson would be blast.
Tolkien Rating: I bid you stand, men of the West.
Chance of winning: 8.5%
The Habs had a false spring in 2021, when they made it to the finals in the fake playoffs, fake season, fake Cup. They’ve been in the basement ever since, even with longtime fave Martin St Louis behind the bench. I think he’d have the right attitude for young Connor, plus Bedard is a French name, so this could work. Allons-y.
Tolkien Rating: Forth Eorlingas.
Chance of winning: 7.5%
Less a hockey team than a money-laundering scheme, sending a star player to the desert is the same as sending them to a penal colony never to be heard from again.
Tolkien Rating: We forgot the taste of bread… the sound of trees… the softness of the wind.
Chance of winning: 6.5%
Somehow worse than going to Arizona would be Connor Bedard toiling under John Tortorella to begin his NHL career. It’s my firm opinion that there is no club more lost in the woods than this one. Getting one superstar player will convince them they can compete for a few years, so perversely I bet it’ll keep them bad for even longer. Nonetheless, I’m against it.
Tolkien Rating: There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men.
Chance of winning: 6.0%
I admit I’m a partisan. Bedard would be the clarion call to re-youth-ify the Caps while also supporting Ovechkin in the chase and encouraging the team to hire a youth-friendly coach. It’ll also return a once-marquee NHL team to the limelight. This is the ideal outcome in my humble opinion.
Tolkien Rating: Yes, I wish that.
Detroit Red Wings
Chance of winning: 5.0%
After one year of overperformance followed by one year of disappointment, it’s hard to get a reading on Steve Yzerman’s plan to return the Red Wings to glory. Bedard would make their forward ranks ridiculously stacked, and they’d have a lot of opportunity to upgrade their defense. It’d be huge.
Tolkien Rating: Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.
St. Louis Blues
Chance of winning: 3.5%
I don’t like the Blues. I don’t like how they’re constructed or how they play. I don’t like their goalie. I think they deserved their fall from grace. No Bedard, no mercy.
Tolkien Rating: You shall not pass.
Chance of winning: 3.0%
Maybe I’m wrong about the Flyers being the most lost team in the NHL. No NHL team has fumbled the bag as splendidly as the Canucks. If they win the lottery, which their incompetence to even lose effectively has made unlikely, some fans will rejoice, but others will know that the team will just blow this chance too.
Tolkien Rating: You cannot always be torn in two.
The Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, and Pittsburgh Penguins could win the lottery (their combined chance is the same as Washington’s), but they could only move up ten spots, so they’d still miss out on Bedard. In the case of the Senators, they’re trending in the right direction since March 28, 2002. They will eventually get a new owner and a new arena. Things are looking up either way. The Sabres are a promising, young, fun team who could have snuck into the playoffs if not for a bad stretch. They’ll be fine without Bedard. The Penguins are a mess, having squandered perhaps the last viable years of Malkin, Crosby, and Letang as a trio under the Hextall administration. An early pick would help them in their… ahem… retool, but they need a lot of help. (So do the Caps.)
The Predators and Flames have a less than one-percent chance of winning the lottery and a zero-percent chance of landing Bedard, and anyway I am out of Lord of the Rings quotes.
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