For 14 NHL teams, the offseason begins now.
Sunday night's Senators-Bruins finale and subsequent clunky release of the playoff schedule officially marked the beginning of the march towards the Stanley Cup for 16 fortunate squads, but Monday night is about the other 14.
It's about the future of the NHL.
This year's draft lottery came with a slight alteration to the rules in the fact that any of the participants could have earned the No. 1 pick—whereas in recent years, a team could move up no more than four spots from its initial position in the reverse standings.
With the fate of the ping pong balls now official, let's take a look at the order for the June 30 NHL draft.
|3||Tampa Bay Lightning||18-26-4|
|9||New Jersey Devils||19-19-10|
|14||Columbus Blue Jackets||24-17-7|
|15||New York Islanders||24-17-7|
|16||Buffalo Sabres (from Minnesota Wild)||21-21-6|
|17||Detroit Red Wings||24-16-8|
|19||Columbus Blue Jackets (from NY Rangers)||24-17-7|
|20||San Jose Sharks||25-16-7|
|21||Toronto Maple Leafs||26-17-5|
|23||Columbus Blue Jackets (from L.A. Kings)||24-17-7|
|25||Calgary Flames (from St. Louis Blues)||19-25-4|
|29||Calgary Flames (from Pittsburgh Penguins)||19-25-4|
Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL)
The Colorado Avalanche didn't just jump up from the No. 2 sport to burn the Florida Panthers and win the lottery. They won the Seth Jones sweepstakes.
In a draft full of gifted offensive players, Popeye's son is the consensus No. 1 on most draft boards—a prototypical defenseman who a franchise can build around for the next decade.
The 18-year-old Jones has the size (6'3", 205 lbs), skating ability and intangibles to be a superstar and leader in the very near future.
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
Coming out of the same town—Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia—as Sidney Crosby, MacKinnon has the ability to be an offensive force in this league.
Assuming Jones goes No. 1, who will go No. 2?
In 44 games for the Mooseheads this regular season, the 17-year-old racked up a staggering 75 points (32 goals, 43 assists). In the playoffs, he has compiled another 28 points in 12 games, helping his stacked Halifax team steamroll to the finals for a shot at the President's Cup .
MacKinnon has a nose for the goal, a smooth stride and elite acceleration.
Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
While Jones is the consensus No. 1 pick, you may not have to go beyond this pair of teammates to round out the top three.
Drouin has been every bit as productive as his first-line cohort, piling up a ridiculous 105 points (41 goals, 64 assists) in 49 regular-season games and 28 more in 12 postseason contests.
The 18-year-old Canadian has the best hands in the draft, which allow him to showcase world-class puck control and jaw-dropping creativity.