Just in case Connor McDavid was somehow slipping out of the collective consciousness of NHL fans for a brief second, he sent out a quick reminder of just how electrifying he is on Saturday night. With his Erie Otters down three goals with under three minutes remaining, the talented youngster triggered a three-goals-in-61-seconds rally by scoring two of them himself. And why not? To be fair, Erie ultimately lost in overtime, but how many people even cared at that point?
Quite a third period for Connor McDavid and Erie. Down 4-1 in 3rd, Erie scored 3 goals in 61 seconds. McDavid had 1st and 3rd of those 3 G.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 15, 2015
What matters for NHL purposes is the not-so-subtle reminder that one of the most gifted and hyped up uber-prospects in recent memory is just a few months away from finally being drafted.
With all due respect to Jack Eichel – another rising star who would top draft boards almost any other year – McDavid is going No. 1 overall in June. He was being projected to go No. 1 overall in 2015 two years ago, and he’s done nothing to quiet the excitement surrounding his arrival.
They haven’t perfected cloning though, so only one team gets him. Who deserves him the most? That’s a touchy subject that inevitably just ends with every fanbase except the one you suggest getting angry. So let’s go down a different path and ask this simple question: what would McDavid mean to each NHL club currently in a lottery spot?
Buffalo (20% chance of landing the top pick at the moment)
Drafting McDavid would mean vindication for years of futility. The Sabres haven’t made the playoffs since 2011, and haven’t won a series since 2007. The way the lottery is currently constructed, the team with the worst record can’t drop any lower than No. 2 in the draft, so Buffalo seems pretty well locked in to at least getting Eichel.
Edmonton Oilers (13.5 %)
It would mean we’re all living out the hockey equivalent to Groundhog Day. The Oilers win the lottery seemingly every other year, picking first overall in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 drafts. In fact, they haven’t picked outside the top-10 since 2008. With the young talent already on the roster, adding McDavid could mean big things. Or it could be just like handing the keys to an Aston Martin to someone that doesn’t have a driver’s license.
Carolina Hurricanes (11.5%)
The Hurricanes have made the playoffs just three times since 2001 – and they’ve reached at least the Conference Finals every time. They haven’t cracked the postseason since 2009 though, and, while they have some decent pieces in place (Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm, Justin Faulk), they don’t have anyone with McDavid’s extreme upside. If he does what everyone expects, he could move them right back into playoff contention in a hurry.
Arizona Coyotes (9.5%)
This is an intriguing landing spot. The Coyotes are enduring their toughest season under Dave Tippett, but the future is bright in the desert. The fanbase is growing quickly, they’re building a talented young core and they have a few quality vets in place for the new guys to learn from. Arizona is already set to add skilled playmaker Max Domi to a mix that includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle, Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan. Imagine adding a goal-scorer the likes of which the franchise has never really seen to develop right alongside Domi.
Toronto Maple Leafs (8.5%)
This makes sense if you’re writing a movie. McDavid gets to play for the hometown team and all he has to do is shoulder all the weight of arguably the most hungry, frustrated and vocal fanbase in the world. Sounds relaxing.
New Jersey Devils (7.5%)
Nobody needs a youth movement more than the Devils. Six of their current top seven point producers were drafted when McDavid was four years old (or younger). In fact, Jaromir Jagr may have been drafted when McDavid’s parents were four years old.
Columbus Blue Jackets (6.5%)
The Blue Jackets don’t need the top pick as much as some of the other clubs on this list, but the arrival of McDavid could signal a quick turnaround for a franchise that already employs Ryan Johansen, Nick Foligno and Sergei Bobrovsky. And it would serve as payback for Columbus enduring more injuries – by far – than any other team this year.
Ottawa Senators (6.0%)
Not quite Toronto, but it would keep the Newmarket native in Ontario. And it would give the Senators a star pivot to potentially play along current rookie phenom Mike Hoffman (19 goals to lead all first-year players).
Philadelphia Flyers (5%)
This just doesn’t seem right. Shouldn’t the Flyers be talking playoffs instead of McDavid? They already have two of the NHL’s top-six point producers this season.
Colorado Avalanche (3.5%)
Sneaking into the top spot to land Nathan MacKinnon gave them quite the jolt last season. And this one could be even bigger.
Florida Panthers (3.0%)
Remember how many people just assumed the Panthers would be at the top of this list four months ago? The young talent they’ve already stockpiled is starting to pay dividends.
Dallas Stars (2.5%)
Yes, because the team with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn also needs McDavid.
Los Angeles Kings (2.0%)
They’ve won two Stanley Cups in the last three years. If the Kings somehow win the lottery, prepare for fans of 29 other teams to run through their TVs like that Seattle fan on YouTube after the Seahawks botched the end of the Super Bowl.
Minnesota Wild (1.0%)
Much like LA, the Wild are probably making the playoffs anyway. So don’t get too excited. Or do, because making the playoffs was the original goal anyway, wasn’t it? What a strange season.