Home NHL Wild won't look at winning No. 1 pick instead of Qualifier, GM says – NHL.com

Wild won't look at winning No. 1 pick instead of Qualifier, GM says – NHL.com

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The Minnesota Wild have no conflict between winning their Stanley Cup Qualifier or the NHL Draft Lottery, general manager Bill Guerin said.

“I think everybody thinks about it, but our job is to win hockey games and not to play for a first overall pick,” Guerin told The Athletic in remarks published Friday. “We’re going in to win. You can’t do that. You can’t do that. Like I said, these games are going to come fast and furious. We’ve got to be ready, and we’re going in there to win, not play for a pick. You can’t do that. You just don’t do that.”

The Wild were 35-27-7 (.558 points percentage) and enter the qualifiers as the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 7 seed, the Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6, .565), in one of eight best-of-5 series.

The winner will reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The loser would have a 12.5 percent chance, equal to the other seven eliminated teams, to win the No. 1 pick in the Second Phase lottery drawing to be held before the playoffs begin.

“If we’re going in to do this, we’re going in to win,” Guerin said. “Yeah, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be hard. … Like I said, this will be an opportunity for us to play for the Stanley Cup. And no matter what the situation is, that’s our goal. That’s our job and that’s what we want. We want to bring back a Stanley Cup to the state of Minnesota. If this is the situation that we’re in, well, then let’s just accept it and go.”

Guerin said that single-mindedness also applies to the Wild goalie situation. Devan Dubnyk, Alex Stalock and rookie Kaapo Kahkonen are expected to compete for the starting job in training camp, which is scheduled to begin July 10 as part of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan.

Asked if the Wild would play Kahkonen to evaluate his potential for next season, Guerin said, “This is not the time for that. We’re going in to win. And we’re going to play the best guy. I know how good Kaapo is. He had a great year. This is a matter of playing the best players at this time to help us win. I wouldn’t do that to the team just to get a look at a guy. This is all about winning right now.”

Minnesota was not in a playoff position when the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, which would have put it into the lottery under normal circumstances. The Wild have not had a top-five pick since the 2005 NHL Draft (Benoit Pouliot, No. 4), and have never picked No. 1 since joining the NHL for the 2000-01 season. Marian Gaborik (No. 3, 2000 NHL Draft) is the highest pick in their history.

The No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft was assigned to a placeholder team (a qualifier loser) in the First Phase of the lottery on June 26. The winning entry had a 2.5 percent chance to wind up as the top pick.

This year, the top pick is likely to be forward Alexis Lafreniere, a two-time Canadian Hockey League player of the year who was No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters.

If Minnesota is in the lottery and does not win, it will pick from No. 9-15, depending on other results.

Tweet from @TheAthleticMIN: 🏒 What does Bill Guerin think about the team’s return to play, the latest on Kirill Kaprizov, potentially having a shot at the No. 1 pick and more?The #MNWild GM joined @RussoHockey Thursday on KFAN. Here’s the Q&A:https://t.co/mTaxDXatRQ

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