The only thing worse than your team not winning the draft lottery is the team you hate winning instead. You know the team. The one with all the dirty players. And the media NEVER notices either. They're too busy crapping on your team. It's ridiculous.
Hating on other teams is a key part of the fan experience. What better way to decide on how your hate should be divvied out than to make a list of the potential lottery winners, from best to worst?
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (20% chance at winning the lottery)
2. Arizona Coyotes (6.5% chance)
If the Leafs don’t win, I think the next best case scenario is to get Auston Matthews out of the conference, and away from any rivals. The Coyotes satisfy both of those criteria, and have the added benefit of the storyline of an Arizona native becoming the crown jewel of one of the most maligned teams in the league. Ultimately, the NHL needs its non-traditional markets to succeed in order for the league to grow at the level they want to. The Coyotes getting Matthews would set them up nicely for the future, and frankly, is probably the outcome that Matthews himself wants the most.
3. Colorado Avalanche (3.5% chance)
I don’t think this team is going to be good as long as they have Sakic and Roy running the show. They’ll have a tonne of forward talent if they get Matthews, but thus far, they haven’t shown that they know how to harness it effectively. There are far worse options out there.
4. Carolina Hurricanes (2% chance)
Does anyone actually hate the Hurricanes? In general, they’re a pretty forgettable team, so I’ll forgive you for not knowing that they’re actually pretty good. Their last few seasons have been torpedoed by the corpse of Cam Ward, but they’re a solid possession team, and have some excellent prospects (such as Noah Hanifin, Haydn Fleury, and Sebastian Aho). Their management is actually pretty competent, and I like to see competence getting rewarded.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (9.5% chance)
I always forget these guys exist, so at least Matthews would give me a reason to watch their games. Their cap situation is really brutal, so I’m honestly not sure they’d be able to turn into a contender in the near future, even with someone who projects to be as good as he does. And they’re out of the Leafs division, and they’re an internal cap team. Their GM also sucks. Not a lot to fear here.
6. New Jersey Devils (3% chance)
We’re starting to get into the teams I hate now. The Devils are so boring, they’ll probably turn Matthews into a 40 point player. Would it kill this team to play even slightly higher tempo hockey? Seriously, look at this shit:
How am I supposed to get excited about Auston Matthews going to THAT team? Also, I still hate these guys from the 6 shot game. And because they stole a star goaltender for Bo fucking Horvat
7. Edmonton Oilers (13.5% chance)
This is probably DEFCON1 for most other fans. We all know the reasons we don’t want the Oilers to get Matthews, so there’s no need to go through that. Here’s the reasons why I have them ranked in the middle of my rankings, as opposed to the end:
· They’re in the Western Conference, so we won’t really have to deal with Matthews on a regular basis
· On some level, it’d be pretty funny if they won again, especially since the NHL is clearly rooting against it
· It might provide some impetus for Chiarelli to trade one of his ‘non-essential’ young forward stars (likely Yakupov, Eberle, or RNH), and blockbuster trades are always fun
· Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, and Matthews on the same team will be very fun to watch
· I’m not totally sold on the Oilers management to handle this any better than the previous regime did
8. Vancouver Canucks (11.5% chance)
You know how awful the Vancouver fanbase is? They managed to make a lot of people hate a team with the Sedins on it. That’s seriously impressive. Despite Vancouver being in the West and away from the Leafs, they’re such a hateable team, from the ineptitude of their front office, the HFBoards arguments claiming Virtanen was a better pick than Nylander, and employing Alex Burrows. On the plus side, there's the off chance Jim Benning doesn’t think Matthews is Canadian enough to play for Vancouver and takes Pierre-Luc Dubois instead.
9. Calgary Flames (8.5% chance)
10. Winnipeg Jets (7.5% chance)
Lumping these two together because to my Centre-of-the-Universe eye, they might as well be interchangeable. Western Canada teams with great young talent, questionable judgment regarding goaltenders, coming off a year that saw them regress. They’re pretty much this low because of their online fanbases.
The Flames were the latest fanbase to claim that they Broke Corsi (TM), while the Jets (through no real fault of their own) are held up as some golden standard of what it means to be a fan. Both of them suck.
11. Ottawa Senators (2.5% chance)
Imagine Melnyk bragging about his teams points per dollar after he lucks into a 1C (before letting him go in 3 years because he has the audacity to not want to be criminally underpaid). The Senators are an abomination from a hockey fan perspective. They play in the middle of nowhere. Their fans have the biggest inferiority complex on the face of the earth. They're wasting the best defenseman since Lidstrom because their owner is too poor from funding forensic investigations into hockey injuries. If you're a poor team, you have to be smart. This is the same management group that said they can't give up Cody Ceci for Jonathan Drouin.
This team is never going turn into anything with Melnyk as owner, even with Matthews. It’s really hard to win in today’s NHL without spending. People point to Anaheim, ignoring that they crafted together a ridiculous blueline for about $16M this year. It’s really anomalous, and it should also be noted that they’re going to have to spend a lot more next year, with Sami Vatanen’s and Hampus Lindholm’s contracts expiring, as well as Ryan Kesler’s contract extension kicking in. The Senators are about as hopeless a franchise that exists in the NHL, and I couldn't be happier, because I really despise this team.
I couldn't work this in naturally to the preceding paragraphs, but fuck Chris Neil.
12. Buffalo Sabres (6% chance)
Does this team REALLY need another star centre? C’mon, leave some for the rest of us. If Matthews goes here, this team will be very good, very fast. They have smart management, a plethora of assets, a good coach, and are in the Leafs division. That they’re not last speaks to the extreme hateability of our final two teams, and the fact that Buffalo sports are so sad that the Sabres being relevant are a feel good story. It’d also be nice for America’s best hockey market to be a team the NHL isn’t ashamed of again.
13a. Montreal Canadiens
13b. Boston Bruins
I really can’t decide which one is worse here. They’re both rivals of the Leafs, both in the Leafs division, and both with obnoxiously annoying online fanbases. I pretty much hate both of them equally.
The Habs take 30 minutes before each game to honour the assistant undersecretary to the equipment manager for the 70s Canadiens (and the media fawns over it every time). They somehow signed one of the best wingers in the game to a ridiculously team-friendly deal. They have one of the most likeable and dynamic players in the league in PK Subban (who their coach seems to hate because he's an idiot). And they have the best goalie in the league, a guy who can single-handedly swing a season for them. They're a coach away from being a great team, but adding Matthews makes them way more scary even with French Carlyle.
Meanwhile, the Bruins caused the goonification of the Atlantic division in the late 2000s, have the most homerific announcers possible, and employ Brad Marchand. They've made it possible to hate Patrice Bergeron, and I can't forgive them for that. And that's not even getting into our playoff history with them. Like the Habs, Matthews turns them into contenders almost immediately (having Bergeron and Matthews down the middle is unfair).
Luckily, neither of these teams has a great shot at winning the lottery (5% for the Habs, 1% for the Bruins). The Leafs have a 20% chance, so our odds relative to these two teams combined is slightly less than 4-1. Nothing bad can happen with those chances in our favour, right?