NHL Draft Lottery: The Montreal Canadiens Need the Second Pick

Mark Della Posta@markdellapostaContributor IIIApril 6, 2012

CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 5:  Mikhail Grigorenko #17 of Team Russia waits for a face-off during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship Gold Medal game against Team Sweden at the Scotiabank Saddledome on January 5, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Team Sweden defeated Team Russia 1-0 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The difference between the second and third pick overall could be a massive one for the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs have locked up last place in the Eastern conference and can’t finish any higher than 28th overall. They can also slip into the 29th spot with a loss in their last game, against Toronto on Saturday, and an Oilers' win in Vancouver.

After Nail Yakupov, there isn’t a clear consensus of which players round out the top-three. Mikhail Grigorenko has world-class skill but his effort level has been brought into question. Alex Galchenyuk once had scouts salivating, but then had a knee injury that ruined his season and put his draft-value into question.

Although the difference between the second- and third-overall pick doesn’t exactly seem like it would be that important, but it could end up determining whether the Habs land a franchise player or a someone who turns out to be a complete bust.

I went back and looked at the top three picks from 10 draft years. I chose the drafts from 1995 to 2004, deciding not to consider the draftees after 2004 as it’s still a bit too early to determine whether or not they’ve panned out.

I used All-Star game selections to compare the players. Goals and assists wouldn’t have worked because of the different positions played by the drafted players.

The drop off from the No. 1 pick to the No. 2 pick isn’t that significant. On average, No.1 picks have been named to 2.5 All Star games each. Second-overall picks have been named to 2.1 All Star games each. The real drop-off occurs when you look at the difference between the second- and third-overall picks.


From 1995 to 2004, third overall picks have, on average, been named to only 0.9 All-Star games each. Also, 60 percent of those third-overall picks have never been named to an All-Star game. That’s far greater than the 30 percent of first- and second-overall picks that were never named to an All-Star game.

Essentially, based on these 10 years, the odds of drafting an impact player doubles when moving from the third- to the second overall-pick. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that drafting third-overall is a bad thing. Guys like Marion Gaborik and Henrik Sedin were drafted in the number-three spot. Even if the Habs don’t get the second pick, they could very well land themselves a superstar.

The stakes are far too high to choose wrong however. With two high-end centermen available, the Habs will have a chance to fill a void they’ve been dealing with since they traded Vincent Damphousse.

For more on the Montreal sports scene, go the The Montreal Sports Report.