By Allan Muir
Sometimes things work out exactly the way they should.
That’s probably not an opinion held right now by the Florida Panthers, who lost tonight’s NHL Draft Lottery to the Colorado Avalanche and now have to settle for the second pick despite posting a league-worst 15-27-6 mark.
But come on, you have to like the thought of a kid who picked up the sport in Denver with the help of Joe Sakic ending up with the Avs, right?
There’s no guarantee that Colorado takes top-rated prospect Seth Jones with that first overall pick. As Bob McKenzie said while listing the results of his own scouts’ poll, one of the 10 had Halifax winger Jonathan Drouin ranked first overall. For all we know, that team could be the Avs.
But probably not.
Nope, it looks like the big, skilled defender will go home to Denver, where he once starred with the Littleton Hawks and Colorado Thunderbirds youth teams, and help revive the fortunes of that dismal franchise.
And that’s pretty cool.
It’s just too bad Colorado GM Greg Sherman wasn’t on hand for the big moment. No doubt he had something else important to do (No, Avs’ fans, not cleaning out his desk), but it looked pretty sorry that three other franchises sent their general managers to sit by glumly as the order was called out while he and Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman sent underlings in their place. Yzerman you can understand — he had Team Canada duties to deal with. But Sherman? Pretty weak decision to send scout Rick Pracey in his place.
This was the first time all 14 teams who missed playoffs had a shot at No. 1. In prior lotteries, the team which finished in last place was given a 48.2 percent chance of holding on to the top pick. This year, that chance was whittled down to 25 percent, and that may have been what cost the Panthers.
Honestly though, this probably saves GM Dale Tallon from a tough decision. Not that the Panthers couldn’t use a big, mobile defender who excels in all three zones, but there’s a sense their greatest need is a franchise center. With Jones expected to be off the board, they can scoop up Halifax Mooseheads star Nathan MacKinnon at two.
Who knows? Down the road a bit, this might be looked at much like the year the Penguins lost the lottery and had to settle for Evgeni Malkin after the Capitals took Alex Ovechkin first overall.
Hey, sometimes things just work out.
UPDATE: Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports that Sherman was preoccupied this evening with the pursuit of a new head coach. Okay.