Rangers hoping to punch their ticket

USA prospect Jack Hughes is considered the ultimate prize in this year’s NHL Lottery. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Sporting News.

Tonight at 8 PM, the NHL Draft Lottery takes place in Toronto. The festivities can be seen on NBCSN. Fifteen teams that missed the playoffs will all have a chance to win it. Of course, the higher you are, the better the odds.

I’m not gonna rehash the whole thing. It’s pointless. The Rangers are sixth with a 7.5 percent chance of punching their ticket. Since the NHL Draft came into existence, they’ve never had the first overall pick.

History hasn’t been kind. See 2005. I still can’t believe they fell from fourth down to number 16 before moving up to take Marc Staal at number 12. The famed Crosby Draft that was gifted to the Penguins, saving their franchise from possibly leaving Pittsburgh for Kansas City.

Even when they had a high draft pick, former GM Neil Smith took Pavel Brendl at number four. A huge bust who at least was packaged to the Flyers for Eric Lindros. He also traded with Calgary to select Jamie Lundmark in the same ’99 Draft that cost Marc Savard. Holy moly.

There have been other swings and misses. Glen Sather took Al Montoya at number six in ’04 when they had Henrik Lundqvist. They didn’t know he’d become great. It was right before the lockout. Hugh Jessiman remains the biggest bust in a deep ’03 Draft that still featured Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron and Shea Weber.

The best first round picks by the Rangers have been Staal, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Michael Del Zotto and Brady Skjei. All taken later. It proves that you can find good players even if you don’t pick in the top three.

Regarding tonight, the Avalanche (18.5%), Kings (13.5%) and Devils (11.5%) have the best chances to win the Lottery that features Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Here is the rest of the field:

Red Wings (9.5%)

Sabres (8.5%)

Rangers (7.5%)

Oilers (6.5%)

Ducks (6.0%)

Canucks (5.0%)

Flyers (3.5%)

Wild (3.0%)

Blackhawks (2.5%)

Panthers (2.0%)

Coyotes (1.5%)

Canadiens (1.0%)

It’s important to note that the 2019 NHL Draft isn’t just only Hughes or Kakko. They’re considered can’t miss prospects, who can make a big impact. However, with several good players including Vasili Podkolzin, Dylan Cozens, Bowen Byram, Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras and Arthur Kaliyev, it has the potential to be a deep draft.

When they go live later, they’ll reveal 15 thru 4 first. Then comes the big drama of the top three. At least it won’t be as late as last year. They did the first part during one intermission and the second following another period in the postseason. It didn’t make sense.

It should be better as a stand alone event before the NHL Playoffs kick off tomorrow with four series getting going.

I’m sure I won’t be the only one with an eye on this silly lottery. Hasan’s team has won it before and they are ranked third best. But as he would point out, winning the lottery doesn’t guarantee anything. Look at Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick so far. At least the Devils chose the right player. It’s hard to fathom how Patrick was considered better than Elias Pettersson.

As you can probably tell, I’m not expecting much. The Rangers have never had much luck. In the second straight year without a postseason that has left Lundqvist miserable, it would be nice to at least move into the top three. They have over a 20 percent chance of that happening. It’s more realistic. As long as they don’t drop, I’ll be fine.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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