If you’re a Kings fan – and if you’re on this site, there’s a pretty good chance you are – this should serve as your power rankings of Acceptable Lottery Winners. Obviously, as a Kings fan, you want the Kings to win the draft lottery. You recall the the McFlurry Miracle, and you think to yourself, “surely there is room for a McDavid Miracle as well.” But you are also a realist, and you understand that there is a 97% chance the Kings will ultimately draft 13th overall and you will return to your Saturday evening with little more than a shrug.
NHL Draft Lottery Power Rankings: For Kings Fans
1) Los Angeles Kings – There’s still a 2.0% chance the 2014-15 Los Angeles Kings season ends as a net positive. Kings fans have had a wonderful time tasting the tears of other fanbases over the last three years, and this would be a result that would profoundly upset The Rest Of Hockey. Go ahead, break Twitter, anger a ton of hockey fans. The San Antonio Spurs finished in either first or second place in the Midwest or Southwest Division in all but one year between 1989 and 2014. That one year they didn’t – 1996-97 – they went 20-62, won the NBA Draft Lottery and drafted Tim Duncan. The Kings don’t have nearly as good of a chance in the lottery, but hey, that’s why they play the game, or, err, drop the ping pong balls.
2) Buffalo Sabres – This is an Official LA Kings Insider Statement: The city of Buffalo deserves a better rep. It is probably the world capital of bar fare. The entire downtown smells like cereal, which is cool, because cereal smells good. It’s also a great sports city and one that tends to tune into tune into league-wide hockey events even when its own team predictably doesn’t qualify for them. I saw Bruce Almighty in a movie theater in Toronto, and there’s a scene in the movie in which a Buffalo news crew covers the Sabres winning the Stanley Cup. This plot development made many of the Torontonians in the theater palpably upset/dismissive, and ever since then I’ve hoped the Sabres would win a Cup before the Leafs win their next one. There’s a drawback for Kings fans, though: the Sabres win the lottery, the Coyotes get a very good consolation prize in Jack Eichel. But Buffalo is a passionate city that has been treated to awful hockey for the last two or three seasons and has never won anything beyond a conference championship, and they’re good hockey fans. Kings fans should see no issue with the Sabres winning the right to draft Connor McDavid.
3) Any East Team Other Than Buffalo Or Boston – If an East team other than Buffalo wins the lottery, barring any unforeseen draft maneuvering, McDavid and Jack Eichel would both be bound for the Eastern Conference. That would further smooth out the competitive balance in the league while providing the league two burgeoning young stars in Eastern Time Zone markets. The league would like that. Columbus played its best hockey late in the season and has a great young core and an already established work ethic and identity. Some luck finally heading the Blue Jackets’ way is beyond deserved. Carolina avoided every inclination to tank when presented the opportunity, and actually turned out to be a pretty decent run-of-play team. Florida winning the lottery would be a major coup and a terrific catalyst for its stable of young, emerging forwards. A shot in the arm for either Carolina or Florida would be greatly welcomed.
4) Boston Bruins – The lottery winner is the only team that had worse ping pong ball odds than the Kings and has also won a recent Stanley Cup? Oh, a Boston team, you say? The Bruins drafting first overall would be a bit of a gut punch, but hey, it’s better them than a Pacific Division team.
5) Arizona Coyotes – Obviously there are cons here, such as “a divisional rival’s deep rebuild would be greatly accelerated.” And while we should avoid drifting into a conversation over the bigger-picture challenges presented by the Coyotes’ arena location and long-term sustainability in Glendale, and the out-clause in the team’s lease, jeez, this is a franchise that has made it past the first round three times since 1979-80. There have been extreme challenges in marketing and selling the game under multiple ownerships and off-ice inconsistency, and for a fanbase that has had little to celebrate – and the Coyotes do have a fanbase – it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for one of the struggling franchises collect a generational-type talent and sorely needed marketing opportunities. From a more selfish standpoint, any theoretical league departure from Arizona would stiffen the Kings’ already significant travel burden.
6) San Jose, Colorado or Dallas – These are highly competitive Western Conference teams just on the outside of contention. One is an emotional regional and divisional rival, and the other two compete in the most difficult division in hockey. All three teams already have a good complementation of top-six forwards that would serve as excellent incubators. It’s a bit frightening to think of a McDavid-Seguin or McDavid-MacKinnon combination. This would be close to a worst-case scenario for the Kings and Kings fans.
7) Edmonton Oilers – Worst case scenario, you say? Keep him away at all costs from the Oilers, who have opened too many drafts. Eventually, gasp, this team might actually be good.