1. New York Islanders
Yes, the best possible outcome would be the one where Ottawa loses one of their three first overall picks this year. The first rounder the Islanders sent over in the Pageau trade is top-three protected, meaning the Islanders would hold the pick in 2020 and instead Ottawa would receive their first in 2021. The 2021 Islanders pick could very well end up like San Jose’s pick this year, where the team’s window slammed shut and gifted Ottawa another top 5 selection, due to the age of their roster, as well as their tight cap situation.
I would caution about calling this scenario at all likely, as while the Islanders could be primed for a collapse, the same could be said last year, as their underlying numbers have been largely underwhelming the past couple of seasons. After two years of sustained success though, it’s getting harder to call them an outright fluke and instead credit should be given to their coaching and systems that have allowed them to turn into quasi-contenders in the post-John Tavares era.
That said, while this results could be detrimental to the Sens if the Islanders go on a deep run with Lafrenière next year, it’s the only possibility with a distinct possible upside, making it an easy choice for number one.