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NHL Draft

Canadiens, Hurricanes move up in NHL Draft Lottery

Getting into top three picks, behind Sabres, can turn fortunes quickly

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Montreal Canadiens have seen how a fortuitous result in the NHL Draft Lottery can help a team get back into the playoffs quickly.

The Canadiens, who had the fourth-best odds to win the No. 1 pick, moved up one spot Saturday will have the No. 3 selection when the 2018 NHL Draft is held June 22-23 in Dallas.

Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin was asked if he thinks it is possible to find a player at No. 3 who could play in the NHL next season.


[RELATED: Sabres win No. 1 pick in NHL Draft Lottery]


"Yeah, it's a possibility," Bergevin said. "From what our [scouts] are saying, it's a good draft. At 3, you get a player who is probably going to play sooner rather than later."

Last year, the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers each moved up in the lottery, to No. 1 and No. 2, and selected forwards Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick, respectively. After failing to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Devils and Flyers returned this season with those rookies contributing. In 2016, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the lottery and selected forward Auston Matthews; they made the playoffs that season and Matthews won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

Montreal made the playoffs four of five seasons before failing to do so this season.

"It's not a good feeling because you went through the pain of a season to get a lottery pick, so it's not a fun season, but you've got to look ahead, not behind," Bergevin said. "We have to regroup, retool and move forward."

Video: Sabres earn No. 1 choice in 2018 NHL Draft

Bergevin said that after defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, projected to be the No. 1 selection in this draft by the lottery-winning Buffalo Sabres, there will be a debate within the Canadiens about picks 2-5. He did not rule out trading the No. 3 pick but suggested it is unlikely.

"It's possible, but you suffer a lot to get that pick, so it would have to be a pretty good offer to move that pick," Bergevin said.

The Carolina Hurricanes made the biggest move, jumping from No. 11 to No. 2 with a 3.7 percent chance to do so. Hurricanes president Don Waddell said in a year when the No. 1 choice is virtually guaranteed, having the No. 2 pick allows them to dictate their outcome.

"We know what's going to happen at No. 1, so by having the No. 2 pick at least we're going to control it," Waddell said. "At 3, you're worried about who is going at 2, but at 2, you certainly know who is probably going at 1, so you can really plan for who you really want to take if you keep the pick."

Right wing Andrei Svechnikov of Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League could be chosen No. 2. He had 72 points (40 goals, 32 assists), 174 shots on goal and a plus-26 rating in 44 games this season. 

Players who could go in the top five include left wing Brady Tkachuk of Boston University in Hockey East; right wing Filip Zadina of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; defenseman Evan Bouchard of London (OHL); defenseman Noah Dobson of Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL); defenseman Quintin Hughes of the University of Michigan in the Big Ten; and defenseman Adam Boqvist of Brynas in the Swedish junior league.

Waddell said the good fortune will alter the way the Hurricanes approach their offseason, their first under new owner Tom Dundon, who is looking to hire a coach and general manager.

"I certainly think it's going to change our plans. The option of having the No. 2 pick is a lot more valuable than at No. 11," Waddell said. "You're going to talk about the pick you are going to take at 2 could potentially come right to your team. The value if you decide to trade that pick, what that value could be with that type of pick, so I think this changes 100 percent the thinking. At 11, I think everybody is comfortable that you're going to get a good player but probably not a player that's going to jump on your team right now. The value of trading at 11 is much less than trading the second overall pick at the draft."

The 15 NHL teams that did not qualify for the playoffs participated in the lottery, which was held in Toronto. The Ottawa Senators and Arizona Coyotes fell out of the top three to picks No. 4 and No. 5.

"We knew with the odds, our highest odds were going to be having the fourth pick, and we think top four is pretty special, and we know that player has a very good chance of playing for us next year, so we're pretty excited about that," Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion said.

As part of the trade to acquire center Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 5, the Senators have the option to retain keep this first-round pick and instead send their first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to the Avalanche.

"Yes, most likely it looks like we will be keeping the pick," he said.

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