For Wild, getting lucky at NHL Draft Lottery is best way to avoid a rebuild
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 They have been replaced by Victor Rask, Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala.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
2004: A.J. Thelen
2005: Benoit Pouliot
2006: James Sheppard
2010: Mikael Granlund
2011: Jonas Brodin
2012: Matt Dumba