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.

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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?

Might as well go with “Born to Lose.”

Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • Avsfan2119

    Freaking joke of a lottery system NHL. The Avs earned that pick, the fans freaking deserved it for sitting through this [email protected]# show all year too. I fully expected this to happen because it’s been that kind of year, it doesn’t make me any less angry. I can’t imagine how mad Sakic must be.

    • disqus_pMhmwyBFzq

      Sing it sister. I’m a Sabres fan and had to suffer with it.

      • Avsfan2119

        I can’t imagine what Sabers fans are dealing with having to watch the Oilers, who benefited from the lottery more than anyone, jump them for McDavid.

        • disqus_pMhmwyBFzq

          The Oilers always had team speed. Now with McDavid they have ramped that up even more. The Sabres desperately need talented speedy players on the back end. More than anything, McDavid or not, the previous general manager ignored the defense for several years and we are now suffering because of it. We are married to Josh Gorges, thank god, no longer toCody Franson, and that’ll do Zack Bogosian. Even Ristolainen is suffering. I don’t think he is a #1 defenseman and they are playing him like that because they don’t have anyone else. The Oilers don’t really bug me. It’s the Leafs who bug me. The problem is , so many teams need the same,thing and their are too few players to fill those spots. That is why you have players like Josh Gorges as a top 4 defenseman for the Sabres. They would’ve been better off signing four journeymen for defense this past season and would have done just as well.

          There are a few bright spots for the Sabres like Brendan Guhle coming up next season and hopefully Viktor Antipin signs with the Sabres mid May after the World Championships. Those are two possible bright spots on defense in an otherwise gloomy looking future. Some team is going to drastically overpay for Kevin Shattenkirk this off season as there are not many options on defense. Shatty is too slow against some of the better teams best skaters. My hope for next season is for 4 new defenseman next season.

          The Sabres also need help on the front end as well. We are saddled with Matt Moulson’s contract right now. Even Ryan O’Reilly they gave a way to big a contract too. That is unfortunately the way you have to operate in free agency. Not too many players sign reasonable contracts as you may well have noted. Especially teams that are constantly in dysfunction.

  • Russ

    Yes, the NHL lottery is now a joke. How can the Avs have a BETTER chance at drafting 4th overall than picks 1, 2, and 3 COMBINED?!? That said, there is still plenty of variation in opinion on who the best players are, especially defensemen. Miro Heiskanen is not even considered one of the top 2-3 defensemen by many.