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STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS and NHL DRAFT LOTTERY OPEN THREAD-A-PALOOZA - Apr 29/17

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Yeah there's hockey and stuff, but dammit folks, we're talking about the future of the Vancouver Canucks possibly changing today. Is this the time that the Canucks finally see the Hockey Gods smile upon them and grant them a chance at (potential, and years down the road) glory? Possibly. But the history of this team suggests we're just in for more heartbreak and ridicule...

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

St Louis battled back to hand the Nashville Predators their first loss of the postseason, and the Oilers, well Cam Talbot anyway, stole another win in Anaheim, and are now 10 wins away from the Stanley Cup because for some reason the rest of the hockey world is being punished. Speaking of being punished. we're going to take a look at this afternoon's Draft Lottery, the odds for the Canucks of actually getting that number one pick and who the top 5 consensus picks are, so we can get a feel for who could be joining the Canucks as early as this fall. First, let's recap last night's action and look at today's games.

EDMONTON 2 ANAHEIM 1 (Oilers lead 2-0)

Cam Talbot stopped 39 of 40 shots and the Edmonton Oilers played like crap.

ST LOUIS 3 NASHVILLE 2 (Series tied 1-1)

Vladimir Tarasenko was the difference as he scored twice to lead the Blues to a 3-2 win and send the series to Nashville tied at a game a piece. After trading goals in the first, the Preds took the lead in the 3rd on an unassisted goal from Ryan Ellis. Jori Lehtera tied it midway through the period, setting the stage for Tarasenko's winner.

Pekka Rinne, who had looked unbeatable in the first round against Chicago has now given up 3 goals in back to back games, and the Preds will need him to start shutting the door or Cinderella's gonna need to cancel her plans for the ball...

Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

12:00 PM PT - Canadian Tire Centre- Ottawa, ON

TV: CBC - Radio: N/A

The Senators look to take a 2-0 series lead heading to New York as they take on the Rangers in the early game today. The Sens battled back to win in Game 1, and will look to keep getting as much rubber sent Henrik Lundqvist's way as they can. The Rangers meanwhile are going to need to get more offensive production from well, everyone. Their top scorers (Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello have as many points as Bobby Ryan has goals so far this postseason. If Lundqvist isn't above average for them, then that spells trouble against an Ottawa team that is hitting their offensive stride.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

5:00 PM PT - Verizon Centre- Washington, DC

TV: CBC - Radio: N/A

They know they outplayed the Penguins in Game 1, but came up empty-handed. So don't expect too many changes from the Capitals tonight. When teams like Chicago, Montreal and San Jose bowed out in the first round, some felt that it cleared a path for the Penguins to repeat. But as Nick Cotsonika shows, the Penguins are pretty lucky to be where they are given their terrible possession numbers. Those things have a way of catching up to you, especially at this time of the year.

THE 2017 NHL DRAFT LOTTERY

We all remember last year, where the Canucks dropped out of sure thing territory. The odds are considerably better this year, thanks in part to the Canucks being considerably worse. The Colorado Avalanche, who were one of the worst teams in the modern era this season have the best odds of getting the #1 pick at 18%. It's less than normal (20%) because of the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights, who are given the same chance as the 3rd worst team, the Arizona Coyotes, meaning they can draft no lower than 6th.

THE CANUCKS CHANCES

Chance at No. 1: 12.1%
Chance at No. 2: 11.8%
Chance at No. 3: 11.3%
Worst possible draft position: 5th

I know exactly what you're thinking: "So, we're picking 5th because Canucks". And I don't blame you for thinking that. From their very inception, the Canucks have never come out on the winning side of these things. Their very first draft saw them losing a wheel spin to their expansion cousins, the Buffalo Sabres, who used that pick to select Gilbert Perrault. The Canucks took Dale Tallon, thus setting a legacy for drafting the team has rarely shaken.

Maybe things will be different this time. Maybe, after two miserable seasons of losing games of boring, dreadful hockey the Gods are going to smile upon this franchise and give them a player that's going to help them build back into a contender once again, part of a core with Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi and Thatcher Demko, along with others that will move the team beyond the Sedin Era and into a future the fans can believe in.

Sadly, we know that this is just a dream, and the team will likely do what everyone is expecting, and get that 5th pick.

So with no generational talents like a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, is this even a thing to get excited about? Well, for starters there's no clear consensus for number 1, as Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier are pretty much 1 and 1A in the eyes of scouts and analysts. Both can score a ton, but there are different attributes to consider. Patrick is likely going to be closer to a power forward type, and plays a pretty traditional Canadian game, while Hischier is a speedy, creative forward who seems tailor-made for the way the game is changing. Either one would make a fine addition to this team, so getting 2nd pick isn't a failure by any stretch.

So what if they get 3rd, 4th or 5th? Let's look at what the rest of the top 5, as well as some out of the top 5 potentials.

3- Casey Middelstadt- USA- C/LW

Playing for the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers, Middelstadt looks like a pretty decent consolation prize should they not get the first two slots. Elite Prospects said this about him:

"An electric offensive presence on the ice, Casey Mittelstadt brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game. His awareness is all-encompassing, and he never puts his teammates in positions where their time and space will be bottlenecked. Bigger players don't phase him, as he thinks the game analytically and will find chinks in the opposition's armor on the fly. As a result, Mittelstadt is often seen forcing more complicated plays that the opposition won't be able to read in time. On top of all this, he can play a north-south game, and his transition game is already at an elite level. He's a complete player with the predatory instincts necessary to succeed as a consistent and, perhaps, dominant point producer at the next level"

Sounds like he would fit in well with Bo, Sven, Brock and the rest of the young Canucks.

An electric offensive presence on the ice, Casey Mittelstadt brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game. His awareness is all-encompassing, and he never puts his teammates in positions where their time and space will be bottlenecked. Bigger players don't phase him, as he thinks the game analytically and will find chinks in the opposition's armor on the fly. As a result, Mittelstadt is often seen forcing more complicated plays that the opposition won't be able to read in time. On top of all this, he can play a north-south game, and his transition game is already at an elite level. He's a complete player with the predatory instincts necessary to succeed as a consistent and, perhaps, dominant point producer at the next level. - See more at: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=300831#sthash.BjwRFPg4.dpuf

4- Gabriel Vilardi- Canada- C

Vilardi plays for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL, and is a decently sized forward with a reputation for strong play in all 3 zones. While his Spitfires lost in the first round, he will be on display soon at the Memorial Cup, as Windsor is the host city this year. Our own gmonk33 had a nice look at Vilardi and why he could be a pretty good (sorry, it's habit) fit in Vancouver.

5- Michael Rasmussen- Canada- C

Rasmussen is a big (6'5" and 203 at 18) Center and a Surrey kid, so there may be some appeal there. He scored 32-23-55 for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL this season. He seems to be decent enough in both ends of the ice, but there are questions about his abilities 5 on 5. Sure, he's an absolute beast on the PP, but the Canucks can't just pick a guy because he's good on the PP in junior. If he's the best player available at this spot, then perhaps you take him, but I wouldn't want to see them grab him any higher than 5th. There's an excellent breakdown of why the Canucks would do well to avoid him over at Canucks Army.

THE BEST OF THE REST

Elias Pettersson- Sweden- C-Pettersson is a teammate of Jonathan Dahlen, who the Canucks got from Ottawa in the Alex Burrows trade. Pettersson led his team in scoring, with Dahlen 2nd, so having the two of them together could bring some natural chemistry. He's going to need to bulk up (his weight is listed at 157) but many scouts speak highly of his skill and ability.

Owen Tippett- Canada- RW

The Mississauga Steelheads winger had a strong season, hitting the 40 goal mark and scoring a point a game in 15 playoff games this year. Tippett was one of the best scorers 5 vs 5 in the OHL this season, and has what is described as elite level speed and shooting ability. Everything I have read about Tippett so far makes me think this kid would look good in blue and green. Here's more on Tippett from The Blogger's Tribune.

The draft goes around 5pm today, and we will find out just how the future of this godforsaken team might be changing. Stock your beer fridge accordingly.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Some days you just gotta blast the angry stuff... Here's FYPM dumbing it down for you...