Welcome to "What If?", which is an idea for a series I had, that takes big moments or events in the world of sports (mostly hockey) change it around, and give my impressions on how things would have played out. I'll try to do at least 1 per week. For this first scenario, I'm looking at one of the defining moments of a franchise, the 2005 draft, where, since there was no 04-05 season, the entire draft order was done by lottery. Teams chances of winning were determined by their playoff appearances and first round draft picks over the previous 3 seasons and were given either 1, 2 or 3 balls for the lottery. Pittsburgh was one of 4 teams with 3 balls (others being Buffalo, Columbus and NYR) so they did have one of the best chances to win. But what if they didn't win? Where would the franchise be now? Since it's impossible to determine all possible outcomes, I'm just going to pick the 4 most likely scenarios and explore them a bit, and I'm assuming the draft order stays the same. I'm also going to say, just to make it easier, that the Penguins swap positions with the other team in each scenario. Scenario #1: NYR wins, Penguins pick 12th For NYR, this is huge. After a few years of being mediocre, Crosby, Lundqvist and McDonagh lead the Rangers to back to back Stanley Cups in 2011 over the Canucks, and 2012 over the Kings, and they would still be a cup contender for a few more years after that before salary constraints force the team to get rid of some of their better players. NYR would not have made the trade for Nash. Crosby wins the Hart, Lindsay and Art Ross 4 straight years (2010-2014) and the Art Ross in 2008 As for Pittsburgh, they would get Marc Staal at 12th overall. Not a bad top 4 D, at least early on in his career, but he's not enough to keep the Penguins out of the NHL's cellar, allowing them to pick 1st again in 2006, getting Erik Johnson, and 3rd in 2007, which would get them Kyle Turris. The Penguins would be cup contenders in the ensuing years, but would never win one. The closest they would come would be a game 7 loss to the eventual cup champ Bruins in the 2011 ECF. Scenario #2: Columbus wins, Penguins pick 6th The Blue Jackets get a franchise player for the first time ever. Crosby develops instant chemistry with Nash, and the two become on of the league's most formidable duos. However, they never win a cup. Defense and goaltending hold them back, and they never make it past the second round. Pittsburgh drafts Gilbert Brule at 6th. He doesn't turn into anything, but through other rising stars (Malkin Letang, Fleury), Pittsburgh still manages to become a playoff team. Like Columbus however, they never make it past round 2. Scenario #3: Buffalo wins, Penguins pick 13th The Sabres, with Crosby on the roster, win it all in 2010, the same year Miller wins the Vezina. They remain a good team up until this day, but that means they don't get a chance to draft Jack Eichel. For the Penguins, it's pretty much the same as in scenario #2. They draft Marek Zagrapan at 13th overall, who never turns into anything. they become good through their other talented prospects rising up and trades being made, but would still never get past round 2. Scenario #4: Anahiem wins, Penguins pick 2nd Anahiem defies the odds and beats out Pittsburgh. The Ducks draft Crosby and win the cup in each of the following 3 years before cap constraints force the Ducks to let Getzlaf go to free agency after the 3rd win in 2008. After the lockout of 2013, the Ducks do a bit of a retool, adding veterans who are hungry for the chance at a cup, and win again in 2015. Crosby wins multiple Harts, Art Rosses, and Lindsay's during his career in Anahiem. For the Penguins, they get the best player of any of these scenarios, Bobby Ryan. He and Malkin instantly form a deadly duo, with Ryan winning the Rocket Richard trophy in 2011 with 52 goals. Pittsburgh would make the finals in 2012, but lose to the Kings in 6 games. After that, Ryan (like in real life) would begin to regress. He'd never score more than 28 goals or 63 points again, and he and Malkin would eventually be traded in separate deals for picks, as the Penguins go back into rebuild mode in 2015. Hope you guys liked these hypothetical ideas as to what could have happened had the balls bounced another way on July 30th 2005. I hope to do more of these, and I would definitely like any "What If?" ideas you guys may have.