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How Winning the Alexis Lafreniere Lottery Changes the 8 Contenders

What happens for each of the 8 NHL contending teams if they win the draft lottery and the right to pick Alexis Lafreniere?

There are no hockey games to watch on Monday (strange feeling for sure after the last few days) but there is an important piece of business that will be conducted early Monday evening. For at least eight NHL teams, a big part of their future lays in the the luck of a lottery ball.

Eight teams — the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Winnipeg Jets — will all have a 12.5% chance of winning a lottery and drafting the first-overall selection in this offseason’s draft —Alexis Lafreniere.

Every team has an equal chance to win, but not every team will react the same way if they do. For some teams, being able to draft Lafreniere would change everything. For others, he would be another key piece to a puzzle that would improve an organization’s ability to contend.

Here’s how we see this going for each team, should their number be drawn:

If the Edmonton Oilers Win

Already blessed with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers core group is pretty impressive. But, there is certainly a need to add help on the wing and Lafreniere potentially solves the Oilers biggest need.

Should the Oilers not win, they’ll be scouring the marketplace for someone to help McDavid in the top-six. From all accounts, Lafreniere is going to be a difference-maker out of the gate. Should Edmonton win, they can stop their search and a big four of McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Lafreniere would be a scary thought for 31 other NHL clubs.

Having said that, the team has won the first-overall pick four times in the past decade. Draft No. 1 in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015, could the lottery really fall their way again?

If the Maple Leafs Win

Should Toronto win the draft lottery, expect huge changes to the team. Already a group that many will suggest needs reorganizing because they are far too front-loaded, the temptation to run with their big four — John Tavares, William Nylander, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner — will be gone. Drafting Lafreniere gives GM Kyle Dubas an easy pass to move one of those players in a trade to shore up the team’s deficient blue line.

Drafting Lafreniere will be exciting for any team, but for the Maple Leafs, it opens up a world of possibilities and trade options that the team would be sure to take advantage of. My prediction. Goodbye Mitch Marner.

Related: Max Pacioretty Ready to Play For Golden Knights

If the Penguins Win

If the Penguins win, the Eastern Conference could be in serious trouble. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin already on the roster, Lafreniere would have two of the best teachers a young draft pick could possibly have to mentor his transition into the NHL. The Penguins would also be loaded up front.

Lafreniere’s addition won’t change the pressing needs of the organization, however. The club still needs to make a decision on their goaltending and the team might still look at changes to their blue line. But, drafting Lafreniere would give the Penguins a bit more freedom to examine a trade to shed some salary on the wing to potentially keep both goalies.

If the Rangers Win

If the New York Rangers win, consider the rebuild officially over. It was, perhaps, the fastest rebuild in NHL history as the team grabbed Kappo Kaako, Artemi Panarin, and Jacob Trouba all in less than one calendar year, but adding Lafreniere would give the Rangers the firepower needed to immediately contend.

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin New York Rangers

The Rangers will still need to figure out their three-headed goalie situation, but the team has a strong prospect pool and decent depth.

If the Minnesota Wild Win

If the Wild win the lottery, GM Bill Guerin might actually make a few moves. Perhaps the GM that has done less than any other new GM in history since taking over a team, the club is primed for him to put his stamp on things.

Minnesota has a lot of unanswered questions casting a shadow over the team these days. What will happen with veteran Mikko Koivu? Should the team move on from Eric Staal? What about their huge contracts for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter? Lafreniere provides one thing this club won’t have to worry about for a long time.

The potential combination of Lafreniere and Russian superstar prospect Kirill Kaprizov would give the Wild something to look forward to. If the team was thinking about a rebuild, these two players would be the key ingredients to kick things off.

If the Jets Win

Addding Alexis Lafreniere to the Jets organization does one key thing. It allows the team to move a forward for a defenseman. That’s a key need for the Jets after the team was decimated this past summer on the blue line.

Losing Dustin Byfuglien after trading Trouba and losing Tyler Myers in free agency was a loss the Jets never recovered from throughout the season. They fought hard and did their best, but against the Calgary Flames, it was evident the Jets didn’t have the gas in the tank that was needed.

Lafreniere opens the door to moving someone like Nikolaj Ehlers. It could potentially lead to conversations about Patrik Laine.

Related: Predators Looking at Offseason Changes, What Moves Are Coming?

If the Predators Win

If the Nashville Predators win, expect a big trade. GM David Poile is not afraid to pull the trigger on a seismic deal and Poile has some top-tier forwards who could come up in trade talks.

Kyle Turris, Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, and Mikael Granlund could all be dangled in an effort to shed salary and improve the team’s overall depth.

Or, the opposite happens. Lafreniere could be the piece the Predators need to stop the downward trend. On paper, the team is pretty well placed to do damage in the Western Conference and a difference-maker like Lafreniere could be all the Preds need to take that next step.

If the Panthers Win

This one is anyone’s guess. Having officially fired their GM on the same day they could win the draft lottery leaves the club open to all sorts of possibilities. Anyone trying to figure out what Florida is trying to do in the way they run their team is a smarter man than I am.

This is a team that potentially needs this win most, but also a team that could making the craziest decisions after winning the pick. It wouldn’t shock me if they trade it.

Next: Where Oilers Went Wrong: Eliminated From Playoffs by Blackhawks
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