Cringe Worthy: Thank Your Lucky Balls Oilers & Leafs Fans - What Could Have Been?

With the recent success of both the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs, both teams are trending in the right direction. It is easy to forget that both teams could have been vastly different
based on how that last lotto ball fell in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft Lottery. If you remember, right before the final ball came from the machine in 2015 to determine who would win the draft lottery, Toronto’s odds of hitting McDavid increased dramatically, actually at that point in the lotto the Leafs had the best odds of any team.

Before people get upset in any way, this article is just for fun, simply a brain twister, a “What if”, and shouldn’t be taken seriously in any way shape or form. 

As both teams core players emerged from the 2014 Draft onward, it would be poor etiquette not to include Leon Draisaitl and William Nylander in this post. However for arguments sake these two picks remain unchanged. Given that the Oilers took Draisaitl at 3rd and the Leafs got Nylander at 8th, I have no reason yet to believe that they didn’t already nab the 2 best players in this draft. I think if a lot of GMs had a “Do-over”, both these guys would be higher picks.

Ok, lets unleash the anarchy.

This article is strictly hypothetical, but lets talk for a moment about how one lotto ball could have changed the course for both these teams. If Toronto would have hit the McDavid Lotto and switched places with the Oilers, the Oilers would have picked 4th, a pick Toronto controversially used to select Mitch Marner. At that time, many scouts and fans alike had the Leafs taking Noah Hanifin with that pick, as it was a much greater organizational need. It’s easy to forget that NHL Central Scouting ranked Hanifin 3 places ahead of Marner. Hindsight being what it is, Marner turned out to be a heads and tails better player then Hanifin thus far, but in 2015 there was no way to project that. In any case, I believe that if the Oilers in the same situation, given their atrocious defensive core at the time, would have taken Hanifin and no one would have been upset or surprised.

Based on this I think we can all agree that the following year, the Oilers would have been Tank Nation once again. The leafs, with McDavid, would have undoubtedly finished higher in the standings pushing them out of the top 5 draft picks for 2016

Consequently, in 2016, the Oilers would have selected Auston Matthews 1st overall. The Leafs would have likely fallen to 8th spot or further and selected a player like Alexander Nylander, for example, to play alongside his older brother.

Here is what the fallout could have looked like.

Oilers Core
2014 3rd Leon Draisaitl 

2015 4th Noah Hanifin

2016 1st Auston Matthews

Leafs Core
2014 8th William Nylander

2015 1st Connor McDavid

2016 8th Alexander Nylander

While I don’t think either of these cores would be terrible, I don’t think either would show the level of success they have recently. Rebuilds would be still in full swing for both organizations similar to that which we are seeing in New Jersey, Buffalo and Arizona.

So many questions surround what the teams would have done from here. Do the Leafs trade Kessel and Phaneuf? Do the Oilers move Hall and Eberle? Would Stamkos been drawn to play with McDavid? Does Lucic still find Edmonton as appealing?

Thank your lucky lotto balls Oliers & Leafs fans and see you both in the Stanley Cup finals in years to come. That is a Stanley Cup match up the world needs to see.

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