After a rough season, there is some positivity for the Montreal Canadiens as they have won the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery and have the opportunity to select the top prospect in this year’s class, Kingston Frontenacs centreman Shane Wright.
The Canadiens had the best odds going in to win the lottery at 18.5 per cent. This will be the first they will be selecting first overall since they selected Doug Wickenheiser in 1980.
After reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2021, the Canadiens finished with a 22-49-11 record along with the lowest point percentage with .335. While they have some key pieces already in the lineup and in the system, the notion of adding a top centreman in Wright gives them a very crucial piece for the rebuild.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
A smart two-way centreman with a lethal shot and strong playmaking abilities, Wright brings a very well-rounded skillset to a team that’s already exciting to watch with names like Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. There was questions about Wright’s production and consistency to take control of a game, however, he went on a tear in the second half of the regular season finishing eighth in scoring in the Ontario Hockey League with 94 points.
As a comparison, Connor McDavid finished with 99 points in his sophomore OHL season. Wright finished with the best point per game average with 1.46 and primary points per game with 1.04 among draft eligible OHLers.
Rounding Out the Top Three
The New Jersey Devils moved up into the top two after winning one of the lotteries that took place and will be selecting second overall. The Devils finished with the fifth lowest point percentage in the league with .384. The Devils have had some great luck in the past by selecting names such as Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Luke Hughes and now they can add another young and talented player in Logan Cooley.
The Arizona Coyotes were the only team to challenge the Canadiens in the battle for Wright all season. The Coyotes will be selecting third overall, getting into the top-three for the first time since 2015, where they selected Dylan Strome third overall. They had the second worst point percentage behind the Canadiens with .348. While the Coyotes missed out on a chance to select Wright or Cooley, they have a top-three pick including multiple picks later on. Do they take an exciting right-handed defenseman in Simon Nemec, or do they take Olympic MVP and power forward Juraj Slafkovsky?
Blue Jackets & Sabres Reap Rewards from Trades
Two teams that could’ve benefitted from the lottery selection would’ve been the Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights. However, with the Columbus Blue Jackets trading Seth Jones to the Blackhawks and the Buffalo Sabres trading Jack Eichel to the Golden Knights, this benefits them greatly. They’re rebuilding teams with two picks each in the the top-16. Both teams made a statement with strong drafts in 2021 and they now have the opportunity to make those picks count again in 2022.
This hurts the Blackhawks as they have a bare farm system and miss out on a potential top-10 prospect to improve their depth. Aside from Lukas Reichel, the Blackhawks don’t have any high-end talent in their pool and really could’ve benefitted from either a top quality forward or defenseman.
The Golden Knights have traded away top prospects in the past in order to be in “win now” mode. This draft isn’t a deep pool, but there’s still some great talent that both teams could’ve benefited from. The Golden Knights tried to gamble with their prospects and not having a first-round pick this year, even as a mid-round selection, isn’t ideal for a team with high playoff ambitions that just missed out.
With no first round picks to try and build back up, both teams missed out as a result of having no selections this year when they could really use some.
Full Result List
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. New Jersey Devils
3. Arizona Coyotes
4. Seattle Kraken
5. Philadelphia Flyers
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Blackhawks)
7. Ottawa Senators
8. Detroit Red Wings
9. Buffalo Sabres
10. Anaheim Ducks
11. San Jose Sharks
12. Columbus Blue Jackets
13. New York Islanders
14. Winnipeg Jets
15. Vancouver Canucks
16. Buffalo Sabres (via Golden Knights)
Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.