The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t picked first overall at the NHL Entry Draft since 1985, when the franchise selected Wendel Clark with the pick that every team covets.
That will change this June, though, assuming all things stay the same.
The Leafs won the NHL Draft Lottery on April 30th, taking home the top prize (which will likely be Arizona-born forward Auston Matthews) with 20% odds of winning the pick.
They became the only team of the worst three teams in the regular season – which consisted of the Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Vancouver Canucks – to remain in one of the coveted top three spots, bucking a trend of the Edmonton Oilers being one of the league’s luckiest lottery team. Instead, the Oilers fell to fourth and the Canucks fell to fifth, with two teams that finished higher up earning the second and third spots.
The Winnipeg Jets came close to taking home the first overall pick, winning second overall and just beating out what could have been one of the most ironic storylines of the draft. They likely won’t get the Arizona native Matthews, though, failing to secure the spot that could have brought them a talent from the city where their original franchise was relocated to in 1996.
The third pick also went to a team that finished the regular season higher up, with the Columbus Blue Jackets taking home the prize of third overall. Like Winnipeg, they’ll probably end up with one of the two Finnish wingers expected to go directly after Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi.