The Florida Panthers were swept in the 2nd round by the by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and their loss could help the Montreal Canadiens improve the draft rank of their second 1st round pick acquired from the Calgary Flames.
With the Panthers having won the President’s Trophy, awarded to the team with the most amount of points in the regular season, their elimination has direct consequences on the Draft order. Their 1st round pick, which is owned by the Buffalo Sabres via the Sam Reinhart trade, is now assured to be 28th overall. That’s because picks 32 to 29 are awarded to the teams that make the Conference and Stanley Cup Finals, while picks 17 to 28 are based on regular-season standings; with one small caveat. If a regular season divisional winner is eliminated from playoff contention they pick right at the top of the 17-to-28 range in the draft, something that directly impacts the 1st round of the Pacific Division winner, the Calgary Flames.
The Implications For the Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens currently own the Calgary Flames‘ 1st-round pick via the Tyler Toffoli trade. The Flames were among four divisional champions that include the Florida Panthers (122 points), the Colorado Avalanche (119 points) and the Carolina Hurricanes (116 points). If any of these teams fail to make it to the Conference Finals, the Flames’ 1st round pick would become an even earlier selection. That’s because divisional champions who fail to make the Conference Finals pick right before those that made it to the final four. So, for example, should the Flames and the Panthers fail to make it to the Conference Finals, the Flames’ pick lands at 27th overall. Here’s how:
- 32nd overall: Stanley Cup Champion
- 31st overall: Runner-Up
- 30th overall: Conference Final Loser With Most Points
- 29th overall: Conference Final Loser With Least Points
- 28th overall: Divisional Champion With Most Points (Florida in this case)
- 27th overall: Divisional Champion With 2nd most points (Calgary in this case).
Because Florida finished with more points in the NHL standings than the Flames, Florida would pick later than Calgary if both are eliminated before the Conference Finals. With the Calgary Flames currently trailing their series against the Edmonton Oilers and superstar Connor McDavid, it will be interesting to see how their series plays out. Should the Flames lose the Battle of Alberta, the latest their 1st round pick can land will be 27th overall.