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For Wild, getting lucky at NHL Draft Lottery is best way to avoid a rebuild

Minnesota Wild defensemen Matt Dumba (24) skates during warmup against Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Dec. 7, 2018. Dumba was a 2012 Minnesota Wild lottery pick. Perry Nelson / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL -- Less than 12 months ago, Wild owner Craig Leipold wrote and sent a letter to season-ticket holders following the firing of former general manager Chuck Fletcher.

His main point? He had no interest in a rebuild.

“I’m not patient enough for that,” Leipold wrote. “You should not be either.”

Yet here the Wild are, preparing for the NHL Draft Lottery instead of the Stanley Cup playoffs, looking very much like a team well on its way to a rebuild.

Gone are the familiar faces of Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund. They have been replaced by Victor Rask, Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala.

That youth movement, which occurred right around the NHL trade deadline this winter, was first-year general manager Paul Fenton folding his hand on this season with an eye toward the future.

While the Wild will return a good chunk of veteran players next season, the rest of the the lineup will be filled out by youngsters, some of whom might have to learn some hard lessons before flourishing.

It’s not impossible for the Wild to get back into the playoffs as soon as next season. But getting lucky in the NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, April 9, in Toronto certainly would expedite the process.

The question is: How lucky do the Wild have to get?

Thanks to a change implemented a few seasons back, every team that does not make the playoffs is eligible to win the No. 1 pick.

While the process itself is rather complex — it involves ping-pong balls forming a series of numbers followed by teams cross-referencing that series of numbers to see if it matches theirs — the Wild have about a 3 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick.

If that happened, the Wild almost certainly would use it on either American prospect Jack Hughes or Finnish prospect Kaapo Kakko. Both players have the potential to become bonafide superstars at the next level, something the Wild desperately need with their roster getting staler by the day.

There are actually three separate drawings to determine the top three picks, so if the Wild don’t snag the No. 1 pick, they also have a shot at either the No. 2 or No. 3 pick. All of this happens off-camera before the results are revealed on-air.

If the Wild don’t move up at all, and if none of the teams ahead of them in the standings move up, the Wild will have the No. 11 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

It’s not unheard of for a team to move up in the NHL Draft Lottery, evidenced by the New Jersey Devils winning the No. 1 pick a couple of seasons ago after entering with an 8.5 percent chance.

If the Wild don’t luck out, there will still be more excitement than usual draft day with the team picking in the lottery for the first time since the 2012 NHL Draft when they selected defenseman Matt Dumba, now a star player for the Wild.

Wild lottery picks

2000: Marian Gaborik

2001: Mikko Koivu

2002: Pierre-Marc Bouchard

2003: none

2004: A.J. Thelen

2005: Benoit Pouliot

2006: James Sheppard

2007: none

2008: none

2009: none

2010: Mikael Granlund

2011: Jonas Brodin

2012: Matt Dumba

2013: none

2014: none

2015: none

2016: none

2017: none

2018: none

randomness