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The Rangers’ Lottery Fate Falls To Ping Pong Balls

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Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Rangers can’t even lose right.

With just three games left until the end of this disastrous season, the Rangers are currently seated in 10th place from the bottom (meaning a 10th overall pick in the draft). They’re three points above the Blackhawks, Islanders, and Oilers with the same amount of games played, too. So unless the Rangers lose out and one of those teams wins out, the Rangers aren’t getting any closer to guaranteeing themselves that top-seven pick they so desperately need.

Oh sure, there’s the actual lottery and all. The Rangers will have — according to updated official odds — just over a 3% chance at landing the 1st overall pick, and about an 11.4% chance of hitting a top three selection. If they miss both of those, the odds are overwhelming they will remain at the 10th overall pick they currently hold, but there’s a small chance they could even fall backwards.

The top-seven distinction is my own, by the way. There’s a general consensus top-end talent resides through the first seven or so picks of the draft, although there are always some form of risers and fallers that change the way things shake out.

Brady Tkachuk seems to be moving himself into the top-three conversationsation, although for the life of me I have no idea how. Adam Boqvist and Oliver Wahlstrom seem to be the likeliest candidates to fall deep enough for the Rangers to grab them (and still on that table of true high-end talent), with Quinton Hughes a less likely possibility.

Trading up doesn’t seem like a real possibility, either. No one is moving the top pick in this year’s draft, and the cost of moving up to a top-five selection won’t make sense. Most moves “up” in a draft happen in the 12+ range, which does the Rangers no good, and wouldn’t make a difference anyway. Gorton should use that to his advantage if he doesn’t love the board at 20+ (where the Rangers will have Boston and Tampa Bay’s pick), but even so there should be plenty of players worth the risk that late in the first round so he’d have to be blown away by an offer so he’d have to be blown away by an offer.

Some people have suggested moving the Rangers’’ two late picks to get into the early teens, but I don’t see that happening either. To me, it’s not worth losing out on a shot at two of Grigori Denisenko, Dominik Bokk, Ryan Merkley, Serron Noel or a plethora of other picks unless somehow you got a top-seven talent at 10 and another one is falling behind him. Which, even though the draft is totally unpredictable, doesn’t feel possible.

With seven picks in the first three rounds, the Rangers should use all of them unless another deal for a similar prospect-like player or a young-NHLer becomes available. These drafts are always a lottery ticket, and you have more chances to win the more scratches you can make at the ticket. If the Rangers do manage to fall into the lottery? Then you can be a little more adventurous the rest of the way.

But in order for that to happen the Rangers would need to win the ping pong ball game, and right now that doesn’t seem likely. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but the Rangers would have been better off, you know, losing more. I’m not sure they could have lost more than the “bought at this year’s deadline” Islanders, or the “imagine how bad they’ll be in two more years” Blackhawks without intentional tanking anyway, but it’s still disappointing to leave things in the hands of fate.

Three more games until this season is over.

Then we wait.