The big news we've been waiting a month for was which play-in team would end up with the first overall pick in the lottery. Because of the abbreviated season, teams agreed to allow the play-in franchises to the lottery draft, and they won. The lottery for first overall was Monday night and as hockey fans will know by now, it went to the New York Rangers.
I imagine there are a lot of hockey fans out there that may not be happy but are at least relieved. It would have been a game-changer had it gone to a team like Pittsburgh or Toronto. It's still a game-changer for the Rangers, obviously, but those are teams at various points of their Cup window who could use top-end talent for cheap. The Rangers don't have the same cap issues, but now they get to add a top-6 forward on an ELC and can focus on their blue line.
One thing I wonder about is if the Rangers will draft Lafrenière with their first overall pick. There are prospect people – our Cam Robinson being one of them – who have Byfield over Lafrenière on their board. The team also has Panarin and Kreider, two left wingers, under contract for most of the upcoming decade. The Rangers have a glaring hole down the middle that they've been plugging with Ryan Strome, and they have hope for Filip Chytil being that guy, but that spot needs an upgrade. Do they entertain adding Byfield instead of Lafrenière? Teams have gone a bit off the board in the last couple seasons with high picks to draft for need, like Montreal with Kotkaniemi and Detroit with Seider. Could the Rangers do something similar? We'll have to wait and see.
In a normal year, making decisions based on playoff performance is usually a bad idea. Just think of the legacy contracts given out by Los Angeles and Chicago over the last decade and readers will get real close to the basic premise here: decision-making on small samples of pressure-cooked hockey will, most often, leave a Warheads-esque taste in the mouth.
That makes the upcoming off-season even more delicious. Teams aren't only going to make bad decisions based off a small sample, but they'll do so from an even smaller sample in very difficult c