It was the worst possible outcome for the Colorado Avalanche, which, of course, is how it finished.
The 48-point, recent-modern-historically-bad Avs could finish no worse than getting the fourth pick overall in Saturday night's NHL lottery draft.
"With the fourth pick in the 2017 NHL draft, the Colorado Avalanche is proud to select..."
For those who are keeping track, this result actually had a decent chance of happening. A 51.9-percent chance, to be precise. But the Avs also had the best chance of any of the 31 NHL teams of getting the No. 1 pick - an 18-percent chance. Instead, the New Jersey Devils won the top pick.
What does this mean for the Avs? It means they almost certainly lose out on the chance to get either Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier or Miro Heiskanen. While this is not considered a great draft, in terms of depth and breadth of quality, all three of those guys should be very good, potentially great, NHL players. Patrick and Hischier would have added instant offensive talent, and Heiskanen is considered, far and away, the best defensive prospect out there for this draft.
What it really means for the Avs and Joe Sakic is this: There is now an exponential increase in pressure on him to hit a home run with any off-season trade for much needed help on defense. If Sakic tries to move Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog or anyone else from the Avs' forward group, his leverage just went down some with this, the worst possible outcome of the lottery.
The Dallas Stars, maybe even worse than the Avs on defense, won the third pick. If he is still available, they almost certainly will draft the Finn Heiskanen with that pick. The Avs now have to look for the much-maligned "best player available" with the fourth pick.
If the Avs had won at least the third pick, they would have gotten as close to a blue-chipper as can be expected with this draft. And, if they had landed Heiskanen, Sakic would have gone into the actual draft, where the big trades happen these days, with less pressure to come away with immediate help on D. With Heiskanen essentially gone now, he's lost not only that player, but bargaining power in the trade market.
Avalanche team mottos used to have a "commitment to excellence", "we're used to winning" theme. Now?