The first overall pick in this year’s NHL draft will not belong to the Rangers or Islanders.
Buffalo, which had the worst record in the league, and which had a 18.5 percent chance to win the lottery (the highest of any team) was the winner and will pick first. Carolina got the second pick, and Montreal will pick third.
The Rangers, who entered with a 6.0 percent chance to win, will select ninth overall, and the Islanders, who had two chances to win the lottery, will pick 11th and 12th overall.
Both the Rangers, who finished last in the Metropolitan Division, and the Islanders, who allowed the most goals in the league, would have loved to win the first pick and take Swedish star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the 18-year-old who played with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League.
The 6-2, 181-pound Dahlin is considered a complete, two-way defenseman who will step into any team’s lineup immediately next season and make that team better at both ends of the ice.
Had the Islanders gotten Dahlin, either with their own first round pick or with Calgary’s (which they acquired in the trade last summer for Travis Hamonic), it could have been an important draw to help them hold onto their captain John Tavares, who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.
For the Rangers, getting the right to draft Dahlin might have fast-tracked their current rebuilding mode, as Dahlin probably would undoubtedly have played in their top four on defense and improve the group in front of overworked goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Getting Dahlin would have done much for the Rangers’ team chemistry as well because he was a teammate at Frolunda with Lias Andersson, the Rangers’ top pick in 2017, who played the final seven games of the season with the club, and has a chance to make the team out of training camp in the fall. Lundqvist also played for Frolunda.
Notes & quotes: The Rangers announced via tweet that D Neal Pionk will represent the U.S. at the World Championships, which will take place in Denmark May 4-20.