What if the Flames win the lottery?


The Calgary Flames have the fifth-best odds to win the NHL’s Draft Lottery on Saturday night. After a disappointing season, seeing the team draft in the top three would be a nice consolation prize, as unlikely as it is. So what happens if the Flames win the lottery? What are their options if they get into the top three? And what’s the best way to go if the most likely scenarios (them not drafting in the top three) play out?

Before we start getting into the different options and implications, let’s take a look at the numbers. Below is Calgary’s probability, by percentage, of drafting in each possible spot once the three lotteries are run.


Thanks to this year’s new system, the Flames are actually more likely to slide a spot or two than stay in the spot they’re right now. Interestingly, Calgary’s best ever draft lottery odds came back in 2014 when they had a 10.7% chance of winning under the old system after finishing 27th. Finishing one spot higher this season doesn’t see their odds decrease all that much in comparison.

As I see it, there are three different plateaus for the Flames here, so let’s get into the ramifications for each one. What if…

…they win the lottery?

Aside from timed leaps like above, the reaction for Calgary if their 8.5% odds come through is easy: draft Auston Matthews. You don’t need me to tell you Matthews is the overwhelming favourite to go first overall. You also don’t need me to tell you how good he’d look in a Flames jersey.

Inevitably, every team holding a first overall selection will be linked to trade talks involving the said pick, but very rarely does that ever happen. if Calgary were to luck out and move up four spots, there’s really no reason for serious trade conversation, either. The likelihood a team would be willing to give up what the Flames would need and demand for that pick is extremely low. So, again, drafting Matthews is the thing that makes the most sense in this somewhat unlikely scenario.

Drafting Matthews would have an interesting trickle-down effect, though. Two different people on the hockey side of things for Calgary have told me drafting Matthews, also a centre, would almost certainly see the team move Sam Bennett back to the wing permanently. That’s a really interesting proposition.

The Flames drafted Bennett as a centre, but he looked extremely comfortable as a winger at different times during his rookie season. We know Calgary has some organizational holes on the wing, so having the ability to move Bennett back there for the long term is a tantalizing idea.

…they draft 2nd or 3rd?

As you saw in the chart above, the Flames have slightly better odds to win the second or third pick than they do to hit the grand prize. In that slightly more likely circumstance, it comes down to selecting one of the two gentlemen pictured above: Patrik Laine (right) or Jesse Puljujarvi. Again, the potential implications as a result are quite interesting.

First off, in relation to above, the conversation about shifting Bennett to the wing would no longer apply. More importantly, though, drafting one of the highly touted Finns would go directly to address Calgary’s lack of depth on the wing. In terms of natural wingers, the Flames don’t have many; the list is even shorter when it comes to impact makers, because that list includes only Johnny Gaudreau and Michael Frolik.

There’s no doubting that either one of Puljujarvi or Laine would be a great fit in theory and could very well help solve a glaring need going forward. I like Puljujarvi’s fit with Calgary a little bit more, mainly because he’s a better skater and this team is very much predicated on speed and tempo. Regardless of my preference, though, both players would fill a huge organizational need and there’s so little between the two that it’d be tough to complain about either outcome.

I’m not counting on the Flames getting a shot at picking one of Laine or Puljujarvi, but if they do it’s very likely just as desirable an outcome as picking first overall.

…they don’t win a lottery pick?

This is the most likely eventuality come Saturday night, and it carries with it a bevy of different options. Statistically, Calgary is most likely to pick either sixth or seventh come June, depending on what teams end up finding their way into the top three. While that’s not the most desired outcome, the good is it still carries with it plenty of positive roads to go down.

The most intriguing of those routes for me is the one that involves a trade, hence the picture of Frederik Andersen above. The Flames are in the market for a goaltender and to get one of, say, Andersen’s caliber, they’re going to have to pay a hefty price. A top three pick is too high of a price in my eyes, but if they end up in the six or seven slot, it becomes a little more interesting.

There seems to be a little more divergence of opinions in the middle of the top ten, so we’re not talking about a consensus group between number four and, say, number nine. Things look very different in those slots depending on what list you’re looking at. All of the individuals in that group are good players, but are they good enough to completely write off the possibility of moving the pick?

Last year, the Flames moved a first round pick and a pair of second rounders to bring in Dougie Hamilton. It was a deal that helped the team in the immediacy but also fit well with their long term arc. By no means am I saying Calgary should be looking to move a sixth or seventh pick, but for a bona fide number one goalie or an impact winger under the age of 26, I think a conversation is at least warranted.

If a trade like that isn’t in the cards, the Flames will be just as happy to draft in the top eight. Calgary would be looking at names like Matthew Tkachuk, Olli Juolevi, Clayton Keller, Alexander Nylander, and Jacob Chychrun in that range and any one would be a nice addition to the system.

When you throw in the option of trading down in this year’s order, the Flames are going to have some real palatable options with their most likely outcome. Sure, we’d all rather seem them pick in the top three, but the odds are against that happening. If probability wins the day, though, Calgary will have lots of different ways to make their team better.

  • Stan

    Couple of thoughts here.

    Firstly, it is not a sure fire thing that Matthews goes #1 as Laine is 7 months younger (full season of development) and has been on an absolute tear lately. IMO the world championships will decide who goes #1 as both Matthews and Laine are partaking.

    Secondly, I highly doubt pulhardtospell goes second. It’s Laine and Matthews going #1 and #2.

    Finally, I completely disagree that we should trade our first rounder. I don’t think it’s a good idea to trade consecutive first round picks, and I also think we should be able to acquire a suitable goalie by utilizing other organizational assets (Dallas first, second round picks, defensive prospects). Besides, our first round pick needs to go to filling a spot in our top 6 as we should be able to get one of Laine, Matthews, Pulhardtospell, Tkachuk, Dubois or Nylander.

    • cberg

      Agree that its not clearcut that Mathews goes first overall. Frankly, Puljujarvi is top of my list so I would try to trade down a spot or two and grab him plus other assets (another Top6 winger) if we won the lottery.

      I also agree the upcoming World’s will have an impact on the draft order, and not just for these guys. So far this year both of the Finns have come up big on the big stage, whereas Mathews has not. That is telling and if repeated at the World’s could have big implications.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    I really don’t care where Edmonton drafts tomorrow because any way you slice it they are going to get a fine player,but i want to see the hockey world (mostly Toronto ) lose their F%*king minds on social media.

    • cberg

      That Edmonton is even close to where they are is a clear and obvious demonstration of how completely pathetic, ingrained losers the Oilers have become and still are. If Edmonton drafts ANYBODY in the first round instead of trading their pick for current talent its a complete indictment of the continuing folly that has been the Edmonton Oilers of the past decade, and continues to be today.

      Last year the excuse was bad management, and if we only got the saviour, McDavid…. They got both and actually performed worse as a team. Until they completely strip down their rotten core and bring in some real players they will remain in the toilet, and deservedly so.

      It is long past time to be worrying about where Edmonton picks, even with top picks that team is still humiliating trash.

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        Like i said i don’t care where they pick. Setlle down its to early in the morning to get so upset and angry .Plus its the weekend so try and enjoy the games.

      • Backburner

        If the Oilers win the draft lottery again, and picked either Matthews or Laine, what would be the point in trading that pick?

        They are kind of forced to rebuild around McDavid and Draisaitl at this point. I think they keep the pick and trade roster players for D (Hall, RNH, Eberle, Yakupov).

        Out with the Old, in with the new at this point in Edmonton.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          i agree..If it’s the top 3 i would keep the pick and trade at least 1 of Hall Eberle or Nuge .( yak is gone as well anyway) for help on D.
          That would also free up 6 mil per season toward the salary cap.

          • cberg

            Although in theory I agree and it makes a lot of sense, the problem is that the Oilers have proven to be so enamoured with some “super” team concept and afraid to trade their golden children, they would probably draft the guy and try and keep the golden kids. They are absolutely fearful of making a big trade, of not getting “value” on a trade, of “losing” a trade. It will be much easier to trade the pick because they haven’t fallen in love with the guy yet, even though good management and common sense says do just the opposite.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Chiarelli is not scared of a trade. He has no bond to those players and I’m sure headed into that new building Katz is demanding some success next year.

          • FireScorpion

            Ah yes the Grate Chiarelli. Swapping players in and out and managing the team to another basement finish. Outstanding. Too bad he didn’t have 4 1st overalls on his roster. That would have helped.

            Oh nevermind

          • FireScorpion

            Truth hurt? Did the Coil not scrape the bottom of the barrel again? Am I wrong?
            I suppose when you’ve been cheering for a bottom feeder for a decade a year seems like no time at all. Lol. Oilers fans perception of time is warped

            Am I wrong though?

          • FireScorpion

            Yo, why would Katz demand success? Lol. Cuz you’re in a new building? So? He knows Deadmontonians have no problem filling the rink to watch a bunch of gutless flunkies wander the desert and put in poor effort. Year after year after year after year after year after year after year after year after year after year..is that 10?
            He doesn’t care dude..keep lining his pockets and going to gsmes. Or are you only tier 2?

        • jakethesnail

          The only forward that would attract major interest would be Hall but his play has nosedived after Christmas almost every year as he seems to lose interest in helping the team win a game or two.

          The others: RNH (injury prone if he tries to play NHL hockey the way it should be played), Eberle (soft and inconsistent), Yakupov (going back to the Russian front) won’t even get you a second pairing D-man.

          Coach Todd McLellan had great teams in San Jose but could never take them to the next level in the playoffs. And he is too kind to his under achieving “stars” on the team. One day he blasts them in the media and then he follows up with a toned down version the next day.

          **Notice San Jose playing better in the playoffs with a new coach?

      • Craik

        Agree with most of what you said except “They got both and actually performed worse as a team”.

        Edmonton was much more structured than before. They scored more goals, they allowed (way) less goals, and they gained 8 points in the standings.

        Bottom line is they were better on the ice this year than in the past.

        I do care where they pick. I want them to pick 5th.

        • cberg

          Teams don’t operate in a vacuum.. There are other teams. Oilers finished worse, league-wise than last year. Also, team was worse with McDavid healthy versus injured (barely). My points stand. The object of the exercise isn’t just to improve some meaningless stats, but to actually finish ahead of other teams.

  • Backburner

    So roughly 25% chance Flames will pick in the top 3, and 75% chance they will pick 5th to 8th? That sucks.

    Any chance the Flames would try to move up in the draft? Probably very difficult, but you would have to think some teams might be interested if the right package is on the table.

    The Flames have 4 picks in the top 60 this year, and some salary to shed, I’m thinking trades will definitely be made.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      They could try to move up but nobody is gonna trade for picks if they are in the top 3. It’s going to have to be a roster player and who would you suggest?

      • Backburner

        If Matthews is on the table, do the Flames consider moving Gio? He’ll be 33 this year and has a big contract left.

        Would a package of say Gio, Pollock, Calgary’s 1st, and a 2nd get it done? Would the Oilers do that?

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          I would say Edmonton would want no part of a deal involving a 33 year old d man with a high contract for 6 more years.
          They would do that deal for Subban yes.

          I don’t think they would trade a franchise type player for Gio . i’m sure that won’t happen

          • Backburner

            Didn’t the Oilers sign a 30 year old Sekera for the same amount?

            The Oilers are also desperate for a true Captain, they have never really had any solid leadership for years now, you would think that dressing room is falling apart.. wouldn’t want that to have an impact on the younger guys like McDavid.

            I think a guy like Gio is exactly what the Oilers want.

          • BDH

            How much of an impact has that “leadership” had in Calgary? Didn’t our best players get suspended for partying? Face it, Gio is overated, and so is his leadership. Bennett for captain!

          • Backburner

            Really? He was 6th in NHL points for D, 2nd in goals. He skates 25 minutes a night, and is in great shape.

            He’s over the hill now, but still has a few good years left in him.

            I think a young team like the Oilers could really use a good veteran like Gio.

            If the Oilers sign Yandle, or maybe trade for Hamonic as well, then all of a sudden they have one of the best D’s in the league.

          • cberg

            Guys, that Oilers Kool-aid must have serious psychotic properties as well. The original proposal was ridiculous to start, including Bennett or Hamilton is beyond stupidity. The Oilers would be complete idiots for not falling all over themselves to get a Gio for Matthews deal done if it ever came on the table. But since they have zero clue as to what they are missing and oh so desperately needing, they will think that would be a huge steal for the Flames. NOT!

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            I know there is lots of love for Gio in Calgary , but they are not going to take an aging dman with most likely his best years behind him. He might have another couple of good years in him but i don’t think he fits into the age group like a guy like Subban would.

            D men peak at 29 and Gio will soon be 33 years old

            Here is a link to the age that a player peaks.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    Biggest pressing need for Calgary is to find a goalie at the draft via some sort of trade.

    They need a legit # 1 going into next season.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          Actually after i posted that comment they could also get a goalie via free agency as well.It would be ideal if they could get an established goalie about 25 years old,but they don’t grow on tree either.

      • BurningSensation

        Goalie is really more of a short term need as we develop Gillies to be the #1.

        A solid league average vet to play the bulk of starts until Gillies (or Ortio, or MacDonald) can take over is what the Dr. ordered. 2-3 years as a stopgap.

        Andersen fits the bill, but our early 1st is way too dear a price. The Dallas first, or a pair of later picks (say, a 2nd and a 3rd) is more appropriate for Andersen.

        The Flames biggest need is on the wing where there isnt much top 6 talent gestating on the farm, and given this drsft is thick with potential star wingers that should be the obvious target.

  • Scary Gary

    I doubt we’d give up an asset like the 6/7 pick when a comparable goalie (slightly inferior) to Andersen can be signed via free agency (Raanta, Reimer, Enroth, etc.). Cory Schneider (Vezina candidate in my mind) was acquired for the 9th pick (later pick), was 27 and had excellent numbers; there aren’t many like him available.

  • Stu Cazz

    Do NOT trade your top 6- 8 draft selection regardless! It is not as if the Flames are projected to win the cup next season that a goalie of the caliber of Andersson is required! Draft your top selection this season and selectively trade / sign a credible veteran goalie in the offseason.

    Trading your top selections on back to back selections is a disastrous strategy!

    • redwhiteblack

      Could not agree more. Bad idea Pat. Everything doe not hinge on getting a #1 netminder ASAP. Rebuilding via Draft is the best thing any team can do for the future, so do that. We will get a really good player for the future at 8th spot or better.

      • Kevin R

        Disagree. Getting a top notch Goalie like Andersen would be nothing short of huge going into next year. I just don’t think a straight across trade would be in our best interest. But, if we can get a player like Ritchie thrown in & we add a Colborne component to the deal with our 1st, I would absolutely consider a larger deal.

  • Stu Cazz

    Now if the Flames won the lottery that would be like owning a nuclear bomb….I would call The Coyotes and ask them to beg….then I would ask them for Oliver Larsson-Eckman, Max Domi , 1st overall 2016…then I would ask them to beg some more…and ask for their #1 overall 2017…deal closed!!

  • Girouxalem

    In all honesty I would rather the flames pick #2 or #3 because I think we have a bigger need for an elite winger and am a huge fan of both finns. Patrik Laine was absolutely filthy in the Liiga playoffs, and already looks to be an elite goal scorer.Jesse Poolparty (easiest way to avoid a misspelling) has the elite speed, size and playmaking that would be great for our team. Mathews hasn’t impressed me when I have watched him in game (world juniors) but I don’t think the flames brass would be able to avoid the consensus top pick just cause he is a big centremen that everyone covets.

    If flames don’t pick top 3 I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Dubois. Next best player available in my opinion, and would still address a need.

  • The Fall

    I like Bennett on the wing scoring four goals a night. That is an amazing trickle down from drafting first.

    Any top 3 is an immediate home run.

    I agree that trading a 6-7 pick is completely acceptable. ONLY if they:
    A. trade down in the first round
    B. address the need for a no.1 goalie or a top6 RW.

    You know every GM is holding their breath right now. Going to see a lot of movement after the lotto.

  • jakethesnail

    If the Flames stay where they are after the Lottery, I would pick Matthew Tkachuk, a hard-nosed player with a flair for offense. It seems the Mock drafts I have seen, seems to favor Nylander as the Flames choice. Tkachuk would fit nicely on the wing for Monny and Johnny.

  • Baalzamon

    Saying Laine is better than Matthews, or that Matthews is only ranked number one “because center” is absurd. Look at Sasha Barkov’s results in the SM Liiga at 18. Take special note of the fact that he was better than Laine at the same age in the same league. Ask yourself whether you’d take Barkov over Matthews.

    Of course you wouldn’t.

  • Brodano12

    If we get 1st OA, I hope BT takes a serious look at the offers, especially if we can trade down with the #2 or #3 picking team. Getting a Finnish Winger + assets would be ideal.

    If we get 7th and all the wingers are gone, we should take Keller instead of the dmen. He is supremely skilled and looks to be the next Gaudreau. How can you pass up another Johnny???

  • freethe flames

    My ideal scenerio would be we win the lottery and the Arizona and then Toronto. I believe both these teams would offer a very good package to get Matthews and I would be happy with either Finn. Arizona could possibly add a Domi or a Strome(or their other acquired 1st rounder)to swapping 1 for 2 and take Wideman as part of a deal.

  • Franko J

    Drafting in the top three would sure take the sting out of such a disapointing season by the Flames. If not there are still a number of players available who can fill a need for the team going forward.

    Solving the goaltending issue by Treliving is a priority, however not at the expense of a top ten pick. Right now I just think there are other options available with a pick at 6, 7 or 8 which would benefit the team more. Like say moving down a few spots and the trade partner would have to take one our bad contracts along with additional picks in the second and third round. For the Flames it should be all about obtaining assets, building through the draft and developing talent.

  • KiLLKiND

    A few points from the comments and the article would love to hear back

    1.I wouldn’t take Nylander in the top 7 in this draft. I think a large part of his rating is his brother which he isn’t as good as. If we end up with him I’m more than fine with it but taking him before a lot of the D on the board this year. If we wanted another franchise D-man I would love to add Sergachev. That guy reminds me of Provorov and looks like he is going to be an absolute beast. Here is an article about Nylander being overrated. I think the article overly punishes him for lack of primary points and him being a perimeter player. That being said though I think that with Goudreau that our top line wouldn’t be strong enough.

    2.As far as forwards go this year is a pretty weak draft unless you believe Jost can put it all together when facing tougher opponents. If we end up drafting 6th and PLD and Tkachuk are gone we can trade the pick or draft a D.

    3.With all the talk bout trading down why not talk about trading up if we don’t win the lottery. We have a clear need which can be addressed by any of the top 3 and have enough assets where we can afford it. Say we trade this years #1, our 2nd/Dallas’s 1st, add in whoever they ask for prospect wise. (Obviously not Kylington or Andersson)

    • freethe flames

      I think you could get the third by offering our 1st(7th overall say), Dallas pick if it’s a first and Kylington depending on who has the pick. But let’s hope we get our own top 3.