Lafreniere Sweepstakes: Western Conference Impact of the No. 1 Overall Pick

With the Qualifying Round complete in the Western Conference, the second phase of the Draft Lottery is set to take place, meaning one team will win the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes. The consensus number one draft pick will surely help any team no matter what state the organization is in. The Rimouski Oceanic winger compiled 112 points in 52 games in the QMJHL and is poised to begin his pro career as early as the 2020-21 season.

Rimouski Oceanic Alexis Lafreniere
2020 NHL Entry Draft consensus No. 1 overall selection, Alexis Lafreniere (Photo by Vincent Ethier/CHL)

With eight teams in the mix to acquire the star forward each team will have an equal 12.5% chance in the lottery. Out of the four Western Conference teams that fell short in the Qualifying Round, we look at what it would mean to each franchise if the ping pong ball with their logo on it is pulled on Monday night.

Minnesota Wild

Last 1st Overall Pick: N/A

The Minnesota Wild have never held a first overall draft pick since their introduction in the league in the 2000-01 season. The closest thing to a number one overall pick was selecting Marian Gaborik in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft with the third overall pick.

Related: Should the Wild Retire Mikko Koivu’s Number?

Should they win the lottery it will mark the first time in franchise history that they will have a first overall selection in an NHL Draft.

Potential Top Six Forward Group 2020-21 Season

Lafreniere would immediately slide into the Wild’s top-six forward group. With an aging Zach Parise and Mats Zuccarello already in their 30s, the young forward should be given every opportunity to be involved offensively, including on the power play.

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Alexis LafreniereEric StaalKevin Fiala
Zach PariseJoel Eriksson EkLuke Kunin
Potential top six forward lines if the Minnesota Wild win the draft lottery.

Effect on the Franchise

As any first overall pick usually is, Lafreniere would be a huge addition for a Minnesota team who has spent the last few seasons as a bubble playoff team in search of an identity. With new changes to the front office, including new general manager Bill Guerin and newly appointed head coach Dean Evason heading into his first full season at the helm, adding Lafreniere would be a great step into establishing a foundation.

Craig Leipold Minnesota Wild Bill Guerin
Craig Leipold, owner of the Minnesota Wild, welcomes Bill Guerin as the new general manager (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

With a much-needed youth movement on a veteran-heavy team, Lafreniere would help transition into a more modern NHL-style team full of young players and lots of speed with Kirill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, and Calen Addison already in its prospect pool. Having a potential top NHL player may also open doors for future free agents to want to sign in the “State of Hockey”.

Winnipeg Jets

Last 1st Overall Pick: Ilya Kovalchuk – 2001

The last time the Jets held the first overall selection they were still the Atlanta Thrashers. Since then they have only come as close as the number two overall pick when they selected Patrik Laine in 2016.

Potential Top Six Forward Group 2020-21 Season

The Jets already have a lot of depth on the left side of their forward group with Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers already under contract until at least 2025. Laine was also featured on the left wing this season but he can play on both sides. With Lafreniere in the mix, the left wing would be very loaded and force Laine, Ehlers or Lafreniere into a third-line role.

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Kyle ConnorMark ScheifeleBlake Wheeler
Alexis LafreniereBryan Little Patrik Laine
Potential top six forward lines if the Winnipeg Jets win the draft lottery.

Effect on the Franchise

There’s no secret that Winnipeg has lots of talent at the forward position and their defensive corps needs improvements. With a first overall selection and the ability to draft another talented left-winger, it would open up options to move one of their current wingers under contract to find the defenseman they so desperately covet.

Laine is also a restricted free agent coming off a two-year extension and could be a trade chip knowing Lafreniere can be a great replacement for the Finn with a value contract.

Nashville Predators

Last 1st Overall Pick: N/A

The Predators have not had the first overall pick in their team’s history since joining the NHL. David Legwand was selected with the second overall pick in their inaugural season in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

David Legwand Predators
David Legwand (Icon SMI)

The Predators’ general manager David Poile has not been hesitant to make additions through trades or deal away their draft picks for immediate success, however that has still yet to manifest into any Stanley Cup championships.

Potential Top Six Forward Group 2020-21 Season

The team may still be acclimating themselves to new head coach John Hynes and his system. With Mikael Granlund hitting the open market this offseason it is hard to see the 28-year-old Finn returning to the team.

Craig Smith is also an unrestricted free agent and with those two players leaving an immediate hole is left for the Predators to fill on offense which can be plugged if they get to select Lafreniere.

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenViktor Arvidsson
Alexis LafreniereKyle TurrisMatt Duchene
Potential top six forward lines if the Nashville Predators win the draft lottery.

Effect on the Franchise

The Predators moved on from P.K Subban last offseason in order to make room for Matt Duchene to their offense in hopes of making a deep cup run but that did not come to fruition.

Related: Predators Bitten By Lack of Second Line Production, Again

Adding Lafreniere would allow the Predators to find a skilled replacement for Granlund at a value contract. This would give the team some salary-cap flexibility to re-sign their restricted free agents, allowing them to retool and try to make another run at the Cup before their window closes.

Edmonton Oilers

Last 1st Overall Pick: Connor McDavid – 2015

After many years of first overall picks gone wrong, the Oilers were able to finally hit on a franchise player when they selected McDavid in 2015, which was a no brainer.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Before that draft, the Oilers had squandered opportunities to create a loaded team after having three first overall selections in consecutive years from 2010 to 2012 selecting Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. With many other high first-round picks also wasted and some poor manging of assets the oilers are still looking to translate the draft pick lottery success into a Stanley Cup championship.

Potential Top Six Forward Group 2020-21 Season

Some would call it unfair to see the Oilers win yet another first overall pick and add another highly talented player to a forward group that already contains a generational talent in McDavid and a former third overall pick in Leon Draisaitl. An addition like this would allow Draisaitl to see an upgrade on his left wing by playing with Nugent-Hopkins while McDavid pairs with Lafreniere.

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Alexis LafreniereConnor McDavidJames Neal
Ryan Nugent-HopkinsLeon DraisaitlKailer Yamamoto
Potential top six forward lines if the Edmonton Oilers win the draft lottery.

Effect on the Franchise

If Lafreniere were to land in Edmonton, the Oilers would easily become arguably the most potent offense in the league. McDavid has long been in search of a linemate to be able to meet his high playmaking speed and hockey IQ and Lafreniere would fit the bill.

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The Oilers are already cap-strapped and need to find top talent for as cheap as they can in order to make improvements to immediately help their blueline and take their team to the next level on both ends of the ice.

Luck of the Draw

There’s no doubt that the speculation around the Monday lottery is significant and could potentially be franchise-changing. One of the eight teams is destined to draft this great talent who is ready to make an immediate impact in the NHL.

Related: Oilers Overcome by Blackhawks Veterans in Series Loss

The outlook and future of an organization will change drastically for years to come and it’s all hedging on a couple of ping pong balls floating inside a bubble.