The Edmonton Oilers won the NHL Draft Lottery Saturday Night and now have the opportunity to select prized 18-year-old prospect Connor McDavid when the draft takes place June 26 and June 27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
“I can’t tell you how exciting it is for us to win this lottery,” Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said during a telephone conference call. “Any team would be just over the moon about winning the lottery. We’re the same. It’s a game-changer.”
Edmonton had the the third best chance at 11.5 percent of winning the lottery after finishing the season with 62 points (24-44-14). This will be the fourth time the Oilers have selected first in the last six drafts. Edmonton previously selected Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov with the No. 1 overall pick (2010, 2011 and, 2012 respectively). Edmonton has not made the playoffs since 2006.
Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Yakupov have struggled since joining the Oilers — only Yakupov (Rookie of the Month) has received an NHL award since joining the team. Hall, who was limited to 53 games and 14 goals this season, has 263 career points in 299 games. Nugent-Hopkins produced his best season this year with 24 goals and 56 points in 74 games — he has 188 points in 258 career games. Yakupov produced his most points in three seasons this year with 33 (14 goals, 19 assists) and has 42 goals for his career.
The Buffalo Sabres, who had a league worst 54 points and a 20 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, will pick second while the Arizona Coyotes, who finished with 56 points, get the third pick. The Toronto Maple Leafs will pick fourth followed by the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche. The Florida Panthers gets the No. 11 pick overall while the Dallas Stars will pick 12th and the Los Angeles Kings will follow with the 13th overall selection. The Boston Bruins round out the lottery with the No. 14 overall pick.
The NHL changed how they operated the lottery according to a league news release.
“The 10 highest-finishing non-playoff qualifying teams received higher (better) draft lottery odds than they had previously; the four lowest-finishing teams received lower (worse) odds.
“The lottery machine randomly selected four balls. The resulting four-number series (without regard to selection order) was matched against a chart that showed all possible combinations and the team to which each was assigned.”
Edmonton, Buffalo, Toronto, Winnipeg, Philadelphia, and Arizona have multiple first round picks. The Oilers also have the No. 16 overall selection as result of their January 2 trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for David Perron. Buffalo will also make the No. 21 pick as a result of trading Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders. The Sabres could have had three first round selections but dealt it to Winnipeg as part of the Evander Kane trade. The Jets, who made the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta, also own the No. 17 selection.
Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Nashville, Chicago and St. Louis do not have first round picks. Here is the complete first round.
Edmonton is expected to select McDavid, who is currently a member of the Erie Otters (OHL). The 18-year-old center finished third in the Ontario Hockey League with 120 points, including 44 goals in 47 games. McDavid has tallied 23 playoff points (11 goals, 12 assists) in leading the Otters to the Western Conference finals.
While it is likely McDavid will go No. 1 overall, the Oilers could decide to take Jack Eichel, another 18-year-old center. Eichel, who also could head back to Boston University, led the NCAA with 71 points in 40 games. Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the best college player.
The 2015 draft is being billed as the best draft since the 2005 draft when the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Sidney Crosby with the No. 1 pick according to Chris Peters of CBS Sports.
The Following is a list of the top-30 prospects in the NHL draft.
3. Noah Hanifin, Boston College (NCAA)
The 18-year-old Hanifin totaled 23 points in 37 games. He also was a top-four defenseman in the country according to Peters.
4. Dylan Strome, Erie (OHL)
The 6-foot-3 center led the OHL with 129 points. He set an Erie franchise records with 84 assists and points.
5. Mitch Marner, London (OHL)
The 18-year-old center finished second in the OHL scoring race with 126 points (44-82—126) in 63 games.
6. Crouse Lawson, Kingston (OHL)
The 6-foot-4, 17-year-old left winger had 29 goals and 51 points last year.
7. Mikko Rantanan, TPS Turku (a) (SM-liiga)
The 18-year-old right winger is the top European prospect. Playing in the Finnish League, Rantanan had nine goals and 19 assists in 56 games.
8. Ivan Provorov, Brandon (WHL)
The 18-year-old Russian defenseman had 15 goals and 46 assists in 61 games.
9. Matthew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)
The 18-year-old center had 12 goals and 57 points this year.
10. Zack Werenski, Michigan (NCAA)
The 17-year-old defenseman had seven goals and 27 points his freshman year with the Wolverines.
[photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images]