How NHL draft lottery will affect Detroit Red Wings’ Steve Yzerman offseason plans

Detroit Free Press

When he spoke a few days after the season ended, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman noted his first obstacle to making summer plans.

“We’ve got a draft coming up in two months and I don’t even know if we’re picking eighth, first, second, ninth or 10th, to let alone tell you, OK, we’re picking this position and that player is going to play on our team and that’s going to project us to finishing (here) in the standings next year,” Yzerman said May 2. “There’s so much uncertainty.”

Some of that uncertainty will be resolved Tuesday when the NHL holds the draft lottery (6:30 p.m., ESPN) at NHL Network’s Secaucus, New Jersey, studio.

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The Wings can wind up picking first, second, eighth, ninth or 10th. The NHL instituted changes to the lottery that went into effect this year, limiting the number of selections a lottery team can move up in the event it wins one of the draws to 10. Only 11  teams are eligible to receive the first overall selection in the 2022 NHL draft. In order of odds, those teams are the Montreal Canadiens (18.5%), Arizona Coyotes (13.5%), Seattle Kraken (11.5%), Philadelphia Flyers (9.5%), New Jersey Devils (8.5%), Chicago Blackhawks (6.5%), Wings (6%), Buffalo Sabres (5%), Anaheim Ducks (3.5%), San Jose Sharks (3.0%), Columbus Blue Jackets (2.5%), New York Islanders (2.0%), Winnipeg Jets (1.5%), Vancouver Canucks (0.5%), and Vegas Golden Knights (0.5%).

The odds for the second lottery draw will be based on which team wins the first lottery draw.

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Getting the first pick would mean a chance to draft Shane Wright, a forward out of the Ontario Hockey League who projects to be a top-line NHL center, or Logan Cooley, a center out of the US National Team Development Program. The Wings need a bona fide No. 1 center, though neither may be able to step in and help the Wings right away. The 2022 draft class’ development suffered a setback because of the lengthy layoff incurred by the pandemic.

This is the Wings’ sixth straight dive into the lottery. Since missing the playoffs in 2017, they’ve either been pushed back or held steady. Most egregiously in 2020: the Wings were the sole team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention just before the pandemic shut down the NHL, the Wings were pushed back to fourth, while the New York Rangers went from the playoff bubble to picking first.

Yzerman did at least get a gem: Lucas Raymond’s career numbers are 34 goals among 57 points in 82 games, a 0.70 points-per-game average that’s nearly double that of 2020 No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere, who has 23 goals among 57 points in 135 games, a 0.39 average.

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In 2017, the Wings finished seventh from the bottom and were pushed back to ninth, selecting forward Michael Rasmussen. In 2018, they went from fifth to sixth and chose forward Filip Zadina. (Back then, every team in the lottery would have a representative witness the behind-the-scenes draw, requiring an afternoon of sequestering. Daniel Cleary, who works with the Wings in player development, was the rep in 2018, and brought rosary beads that had been blessed by Pope John Paul II for luck.) 

In 2019, the first year under Yzerman, they moved from fourth to sixth and chose defenseman Moritz Seider. In 2021, they sat steady at sixth, drafting defenseman Simon Edvinsson.

Yzerman certainly has demonstrated that not picking first can still yield a player who can move the needle on the rebuild — but having the first or second choice would be a nice change for the Wings.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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