NHL Week in Review (April 24-30)

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The NHL is another step closer to the Stanley Cup as round two is underway with eight teams having a chance at the Cup.

This week though the league took a small break from the playoffs and looked ahead to the near future.

That near future was the NHL Draft where the next generation of players is getting ready to make an impact on the league as they all look for their chance to cement their place among the best.

This year’s draft seemed to be more important for so many teams as there were a few sitting in a familiar spot on Saturday.

Teams like Edmonton, Winnipeg, Columbus, and Toronto were all familiar with missing the playoffs.

They were all looking for a player that could change their franchise along with the other 14 teams that finished out of the playoffs.

Those players seem to be available later this year as players like Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and Jesse Puljujärvi could be the piece that any of these teams need to begin competing.

After these top three though there seems to be a slight drop-off in that many of the other players may take a year or two to actually make an impact.

So it was fitting that this year the NHL Draft Lottery was set to determine the top three picks in the draft rather than just the first.

Fourteen teams watched closely on Saturday as the annual stress test known as the lottery got underway.

All fourteen teams had a chance at moving into the top three and getting a chance at one of those franchise players.

Of course, the fans watched closely hoping that their team could get it and likely hoping that one team didn’t get it.

That one team was the Edmonton Oilers who have won the lottery multiple times in the last few years and yet seem to always finish near the bottom of the league.

No matter who they get to choose they never improve as they are a team full of the best young talent but nothing to show for it.

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This year the Oilers didn’t go into the lottery with the best chance as they sat behind another Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After emptying the cupboard in Brendan Shanahan’s second year in charge the Leafs finished in dead last but the season wasn’t without some positives.

Near the end of the season, the Leafs got to see their young talent including William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen and the returns were pretty good.

The Leafs also watched closely as Mitch Marner lit it up in the OHL in what was likely his final year out of a Leafs jersey.

The future seemed bright for the Leafs but getting another piece would put them over the edge and potentially could see the Leafs finally build a lasting competitor.

The only thing they needed was to win the lottery and earn the top spot where they could draft Matthews as a player who could change the team for years to come.

Matthews is the superstar of the draft and after a year playing with professionals in Switzerland, he is more than ready to play in the NHL next year.

Getting him could change any team and every team went into the lottery looking for their chance to get Matthews.

The Leafs took the lottery while the Winnipeg Jets made the biggest jump from sixth overall to second overall and the Blue Jackets moved up one to third overall.

All three will be very happy with the results of Saturday night as they will all get franchise players with two teams not even expecting to get that chance.

Of course, the Leafs were the biggest winner as picking Matthews could be the difference they need to start competing after years of mediocrity.

Things are looking bright in the mecca of hockey as for a night the focus became the future while eight other teams continue to fight for their chance at the ultimate prize in hockey.

Overtime
(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Changes in Anaheim
Bruce Boudreau has been one of the most successful coaches in the NHL but after exited the playoffs early in two straight years something needed to change in Anaheim as Boudreau was fired with the Ducks looking to take another step before their roster is destroyed

NHLPA On Board
The NHL passed another obstacle in the expansion talk as the NHLPA approved the Expansion Draft rules showing that they are on board with expansion, which makes sense since it means more jobs for more players

Stadium News
With only eight teams still active other teams are looking to the future as the Ottawa Senators made progress in moving to downtown Ottawa as the city approved a development plan that includes a brand new arena for the team

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