NHL

Draft Lottery Preview For Utah’s NHL Team

May 2, 2024, 5:09 PM | Updated: 7:04 pm

NHL-Draft-Logo-Nashville...

A close up view of the NHL Draft logo at a press availability at AllianceBernstein Tower on June 27, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Looking back at Arizona’s last season in 2023 helps us get an idea of what Utah’s NHL team will look for in the draft and free agency.

NHL Draft Lottery Preview

The league’s draft lottery will be held on May 7. The event will determine which team gets the number one pick. Utah has a 7.5 percent chance of receiving the top pick. Last season, Chicago scored the number one selection, Connor Bedard, with only an 11.5 percent chance before the lottery.

The lottery has been in place in some form since 1995. The NHL implemented the lottery-style first round to prevent teams from intentionally tanking to guarantee themselves the first overall pick. The lottery will set the draft order for the first 16 picks. The lottery picks initially go to the clubs that do not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2024 draft will reportedly be held at the Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first round will be on June 28, with Rounds 2-7 on June 29.
There will be two lottery drawings, one for the No. 1 pick and another for the No. 2 selection.

Teams with a chance to significantly improve their positions can only move up 10 spots if they win one of the draws. Only the top 11 teams in the lottery are eligible to receive the No. 1 pick.

Once the top two picks are established, the remaining teams will be assigned picks 3-16 based on the inverse order of the final regular-season standings.

RELATED: Utah Goalie Connor Ingram Named Finalist For Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The San Jose Sharks, who finished last in the NHL standings (19-54-9), have the best odds of winning the No. 1 pick at 18.5 percent.

No matter what gaps you need to fill, the number one pick in this year’s draft will likely be Macklin Celebrini. Celebrini, a 17-year-old phenom (turns 18 in June) center out of Boston University, has a big frame at 6’0″ 190 lbs. He had 64 points in 38 games for BU as a freshman. In one NCAA season, he was named First Team All-America, Hockey East Player of the Year, and won the Hobey Baker as college hockey’s best player. Celebrini also led Team Canada in points in the 2023 World Juniors.

Utah general manager Bill Armstrong has hinted that he likes Utah’s odds this year based on how past lotteries have gone and how things are starting to fall in place for the club. Armstrong also told KSL Sports that he will be looking for a couple of big, highly mobile defensemen to anchor the team this upcoming season. Utah has 13 total picks in this year’s draft, including one first round and three second round selections.

If Utah doesn’t get the first pick, expect them to draft Artyom Levshunov from Michigan State, Sam Dickinson from London in the OHL, or Zeev Buium from Denver University.

Levshunov, a 6’2″, 209 lbs. Belarusian, had nine goals, 26 assists, 44 points, and a very impressive plus-27 in 38 games this season for the Spartans.

Dickinson is 6′ 3′ 194lbs. and played 68 games for the London Knights of the OHL. Dickinson had 70 points.

Buium is six feet tall and weighs 183 lbs. The American-born, agile defenseman helped the Pioneers capture this year’s NCAA National Championship with 50 points, 20 rebounds, and an unheard-of plus-33 in 42 games.

Some big forwards should be available if Utah doesn’t pick a defenseman in the first round. Look for Cayden Lidstrom, Cole Eiserman, Berkly Catton or even Tij Iginla to be called.

Lidstrom (no relation to Nick) is a 6′ 4″, 216 lbs. forward, who scored 46 points in 32 games with Medicine Hat this season.

Eiserman comes in at 6’0″ 196lbs. with 86 points in 54 games for the USDP.

Catton is only 5′ 11″ and 163 lbs. but has put up amazing numbers in the WHL this season. In 68 games, Catton had 116 points and 22 pims.

Iginla (yes, Jarome’s son) is 6’0″ 185lbs. with 84 points and 35 pims in 64 games. He plays with a lot of the same grit his father was known for.

Utah’s penalty kill ranked 25th in the league, giving up 63 power play goals with a 76 percent kill rate. The best in the league was Carolina at just under 87 percent kill. The league average was low 80s. Utah can help solve this issue through the draft but could immediately improve their penalty kill in free agency. Trevor Lewis would be a great and economically friendly addition. Not only has he won two Stanley Cups and been voted the unsung hero almost every year he’s played, but he’s also spent the majority of his career on PK1.  Jake Muzzin, Brent Seabrook, Alec Martinez, and Phillip Hronek are big-name unrestricted free agents who could help with leadership and eat up a ton of minutes.

The Coyotes finished 15th in goals scored with an average of 3.1 per game. Their power play scored almost 22 percent of the time with the league-best being Tampa at 28.63 percent. Utah could add some depth by adding Sam Reinhart, Adam Henrique, or Anthony Mantha. All are scheduled to be unrestricted at the end of the season but will be highly sought after, as will UFA Steven Stamkos, though few expect him to be lured away from Tampa.

For Utah fans who were Knight fans until a few weeks ago, Jonathan Marchessault is the most exciting name on the unrestricted free-agent list. The Knights would be crazy to let him go, but they may have put themselves in a position where they simply can no longer afford his talents.

The next several weeks are going to be exciting for Utah fans. For the first time in history, Utah will be drafting a player in the first round of the NHL draft. When free agency begins on July 1, some talented and affordable aging superstars could be enticed to come to Utah to be a part of something new, a great place to bring their family, or to have a young owner with passion, vision, and a will to spend.

Welcome to the NHL. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

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Draft Lottery Preview For Utah’s NHL Team