The Carolina Hurricanes will be at a crossroads when play resumes
As the expected first-round draft pick, Alex Lafreniere checks almost every box for a superstar in the NHL: vision, quickness, skilled hands, and a massive point potential but The Carolina Hurricanes should ignore him and focus on a deep playoff run.
Speculation has been rampant about what team will draft him since the shocking news developed that the first pick will be rewarded to one of the eight teams that lose their qualifying round series during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
It is fitting that an unprecedented draft lottery result follows an unprecedented season. I have seen fans from almost every team that has an impending qualifying round joke about their team throwing the series to have a shot at the number one draft pick. It is essential that the Hurricanes ignore the prospect of the number one pick in favor of a deep playoff run.
It took nearly twenty years for the Hurricanes to make it to the playoffs in back to back seasons. This season was difficult, as injuries were punctuated with scoring droughts and blueline struggles. However, the Canes persisted through several losing streaks in order to secure a place in the playoffs.
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The Canes have the potential to make a deep playoff run to the Stanley Cup finals because of a deep blue line bolstered by the return of Dougie Hamilton and the addition of Sami Vatanen and Brady Skjei, a front line full of stars like Sebastian Aho and veteran Justin Williams, and a healthy pair of netminders in Petr Mrazek and James Reimer.
Caniacs know that magic happens when the Canes enter the playoffs. There are numerous examples of the Hurricanes beating the odds in the playoffs, like when they knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals, in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. I think the Canes can capture this same magic to be successful this year.
Now imagine the disappointment of each and every Caniac that their beloved team would lose focus in the playoffs in order to have a chance at the number one prospect. I would be among the ranks of the disappointed because I value that the Canes leave everything on the ice at the end of each game.
Don’t get me wrong, I hope that Alex Lafreniere has a long and successful NHL career and I believe he will. But even if the Canes draft Lafreniere, there is no guaranteed path to immediate success.
Any prospect will have to train and practice with a new team in a new system in order to become proficient with that team and its players. For some prospects, this may take a season or less. For others, it takes several years to find a groove of success with the team that they were drafted to.
The other point that has to be emphasized is that each of the eight teams that lose their qualifying series only has a 12.5% chance of securing the number one slot in the draft. This is far from a guarantee that losing the qualifying round will result in gaining the number one draft pick.
The bottom line is that throwing a playoff run to secure a top prospect does not give a team any guarantees of future success. The playoff run inspires confidence and faith in a team and its fanbase that a prospect can’t live up to. Plus, any team that is willing to forgo a playoff run for a possible draft pick will lose their fans’ faith in their organization.
The Carolina Hurricanes can cap off a difficult season with a Stanley Cup victory like no other. As one Caniac to other Caniacs reading this article, don’t wish for an easy number one draft pick for the Canes, pray for the Canes to have the strength to win the Stanley Cup.