Wings' Dan Cleary packing blessed rosary beads for NHL Draft lottery
Detroit — Dan Cleary always knew his role when he played for the Red Wings.
Cleary, now in the organization’s player-development department, understands what his task is Saturday night at the NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto.
“I’m hoping to bring some Irish luck,” said Cleary, who’ll be backstage and will know before anyone else whether the Red Wings nab the first overall pick.
The Red Wings, who finished fifth from the bottom in the NHL overall standings in 2017-18, have an 8.5-percent chance of winning the lottery and getting the top pick — and a 26.1-percent chance of landing in the top three.
That top pick, whichever teams wins it, is expected to be used on Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who many scouts believe, far and away, is the best available player in this draft.
“He’s a generational talent,” said Cleary, who has scouted Dahlin. “The team who drafts him will be able to have a player they can build around.”
Cleary will bring along to the lottery rosary beads that were blessed by Pope John Paul II.
While Cleary will represent the organization in back — Cleary and the 14 other team representatives in the lottery will have their cell phones taken away, they’ll be entirely sequestered — general manager Ken Holland will be on stage, as deputy commissioner Bill Daly counts down the draft order (7:30 p.m., CBC/NBC).
The fourth through 15th selections will be revealed during the 7:30-8 p.m. portion of the broadcast, while the top three selections will be unveiled during the second-period intermission of the Stanley Cup playoff game between San Jose and Las Vegas.
The only four teams who have a better odds to win the lottery than the Red Wings are Buffalo (18.5 percent), Ottawa (13.5 percent), Arizona (11.5 percent) and Montreal (9.5 percent).
Now, 8.5 percent doesn’t sound like exceptional odds — and they’re not. But the New Jersey Devils had identical odds last year and came away with winning the lottery and selecting forward Nico Hischier first overall.
Wherever the Red Wings wind up picking, it’ll be an interesting and busy weekend July 22-23 when the NHL Entry Draft takes place. The Red Wings have 11 draft picks overall, including seven in the first three rounds — two in the first round (including Las Vegas’ toward the bottom), two in the second round (including Ottawa’s) and three in the third round (including Philadelphia’s and Pittsburgh’s).
This draft, Holland said, can be considered two drafts built into one for the Red Wings, given the multiple picks in the first three rounds.
“Every draft is important, but this is an important draft for the future of the Detroit Red Wings,” Holland said.
While Dahlin is the prize catch, there are numerous prospects who could either move immediately into the NHL, or are projected to be impact players soon. Forwards Filip Zadina, Andrei Svechnikov (brother of current Wings’ prospect Evgeny Svechnikov) and Brady Tkachuk, and defensemen Adam Boqvist, Evan Bouchard and Quinn Hughes (Michigan) are some of the top players available.
Many scouts have called this one of the deepest classes in recent memory.
“There are a lot of players who could be able to step in soon and help teams,” Cleary said. “There are a lot of talented players available.
“This will be an exciting day for the Red Wings, and Red Wings fans. Everyone should be real excited.”
NHL Draft lottery
When: Saturday; picks 4-15 revealed at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN and CBC, picks 1-3 revealed on NBC and CBC during second intermission of Vegas-San Jose game, which begins at 8 p.m.
Red Wings: They have an 8.5 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick.
Odds to win the first pick:
■Buffalo, 18.5 percent
■Ottawa, 13.5 percent
■Arizona, 11.5 percent
■Montreal, 9.5 percent
■Detroit, 8.5 percent
■Vancouver, 7.5 percent
■Chicago, 6.5 percent
■N.Y. Rangers, 6.0 percent
■Edmonton, 5.0 percent
■N.Y. Islanders, 3.5 percent
■Carolina, 3.0 percent
■N.Y. Islanders (from Calgary), 2.5 percent
■Dallas, 2.0 percent
■St. Louis, 1.5 percent
■Florida, 1.0 percent