Sens could use draft lottery luck

JASON YORK, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:15 AM ET

Winning the lottery is all luck; you dont have to be talented or have any specific skill. Yet all that money can change your life forever.

Getting a top 5 lottery pick in the NHL takes a lot of bad luck; key players need to dramatically underperform.

Just like the lotto winner, the team that scratches the right ticket and drafts a marquee prospect can turn one horrible season of misery into a bright, exciting future filled with hope. Its short-term pain for long-term gain.

The current top teams in the NHL, with the exception of the Detroit Red Wings, have had to endure that pain. Now, after building their teams through high-end draft picks, they are leading the way.

Other teams that continually try to fool themselves and their fan base by not taking an honest look in the mirror are often left spinning their tires stuck in the middle-to-low end of the league.

The Chicago Blackhawks went through a dark time. But they took the proper off-ice steps in management and drafted well, thanks to some horrible seasons. Lottery picks Jonathan Toews (third overall, 2006) and Patrick Kane (first overall, 07) led Chicago to its first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.

The Carolina Hurricanes seem to have figured out the trick. You want to either miss the playoffs by a wide margin and receive a top lottery pick, or go far in the playoffs and win the Cup, like they did in 2006, led by Eric Staal. The Hurricanes were only able to draft Staal with the second pick in 2003 because of their miserable, last-place showing the previous season.

If the Pittsburgh Penguins didnt stink as badly as they did in 2003-04, they would not be where they are today. They wouldnt have had Sidney Crosby, who they drafted first overall in 2005, thanks to a crappy Penguins team that managed a 58-point season in 2003-04, helping their odds of winning the top pick in the first post-lockout draft.

In Ottawa, it seems everyone has an opinion on why the Senators have underperformed so badly this season. The reasons dont matter, a lot of damage has already been done. The Senators are a lottery team right now.

Players and management cant admit that. They must battle hard every night to win. They are capable of putting together a streak and making a charge for the playoffs and that should be their goal.

But from my vantage point, their hole is too deep. They need to start rebuilding.

Trades leading up to the Feb. 28 deadline have begun with Jamie Langenbrunner and Dwayne Roloson being dealt most recently.

Ottawa will soon need to follow suit, dealing older veterans for young prospects and draft picks. The Senators have been a solid, consistent club for years and fans should be proud, especially when you compare this team to the likes of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

But the Senators should not kid themselves. They have been slipping the past few seasons, a trend that has only accelerated in 2010-11.

They dont have to blow up the team, but major changes are needed.

Dont be disappointed if the Senators finish as the season as a lottery team. A lottery pick, especially in the top 5, will go a long way to making the teams future a lot brighter.

Yorkie's Top 5 Draft Picks

1. Mario Lemieux: Arguably one of the greatest players of all-time.

2. Guy Lafleur: The Flower was one of the most exciting players to watch and one of the greatest Habs of all-time.

3. Denis Potvin: Captained the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups and is regarded as one the best all-around defencemen of all-time.

4. Sidney Crosby: Hes just entering his prime, which is scary, and has already scored one of the biggest goals of all-time.

5. Gilbert Perreault: When you think of the Buffalo Sabres and one of the smoothest players to ever lace up a pair of skates, Perreault is the guy.


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