On the eve of the NHL playoffs, the teams that did not qualify for the postseason learned their immediate fortunes during Tuesday’s NHL draft lottery.
The Florida Panthers won the rights to the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, with the Buffalo Sabres checking in with the second pick and the Edmonton Oilers earning the third pick. The Panthers had an 18.8 percent chance to win the lottery given their position in the standings heading into the event, while the Sabres had a 25 percent chance.
Essentially, the Sabres racked up yet another loss on the season, even if this one doesn’t count in the standings.
David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period was following along as the picks were announced:
Top 5 picks in the 2014 draft: 1. Florida Panthers 2. Buffalo Sabres 3. Edmonton Oilers 4. Calgary Flames 5. NY Islanders— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) April 16, 2014
He also shared a tidbit about Florida's recent stretch of good luck when it comes to the lottery, though the team's fanbase would likely trade those results from some actual winning seasons on the ice in the near future:
Florida has a Top-5 pick in 4 of last 5 Drafts (1st in 2014, 2nd in 13, 3rd in 11 & 10)... Second ever 1st overall pick (Jovanovski, 1994)— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) April 16, 2014
The NHL draft will take place on June 27 and 28.
Here is a look at the entire selection list following the lottery:
|8||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|10||Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa Senators)|
There is a heavy Canadian flavor to the lottery results this year because only Montreal made it to the playoffs from the country’s group of teams. Mike Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames discussed the disappointment regarding that fact, according to the Associated Press:
It's not fun, for sure. The players on the team, I can tell you for sure, feel it. It weighs a lot on you, no doubt.
That's part of also what makes it so special to play in a Canadian market. When it goes the other way, there's no more rewarding feeling.
Before delving into possible candidates for the early picks, it is worth passing along these footnotes regarding the draft and the lottery that come via TSN:
The Devils will receive the 30th overall pick regardless of their final standing as penalty for cap circumvention in signing Ilya Kovalchuk. The Devils will still be included in the lottery drawing with the same odds that would have normally been assigned to the club. In the event the Devils win the lottery, a re-draw will be conducted to select a different recipient of the first overall selection in the first round.
The New York Islanders may not have a first-round pick, as they must surrender either their 2014 or 2015 first-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the trade that sent Thomas Vanek to New York. The Islanders decide which pick to surrender prior to the 2014 NHL Draft.
This draft will be particularly intriguing for hockey fans because there are so many storied franchises and marquee squads near the top of the draft board. Teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks will likely even pique the interest of fans of other squads come draft day.
Now that we know what the lottery results are, it’s time to turn our attention to the potential early picks in the actual draft.
Here are some of the predicted top picks that teams like the Panthers and Sabres will certainly have their eyes on in the lead-up to the draft.
D Aaron Ekblad, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Will Aaron Ekblad be the No. 1 pick in the draft?
You would be hard-pressed to find a more physical defender in this entire draft than Aaron Ekblad.
He dishes out punishment to opposing attackers, but he also has an impressive shot of his own. Don’t be surprised if Ekblad is the first name taken during the NHL draft.
C Sam Reinhart, Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Sam Reinhart is a point-scoring machine, and any team looking for an influx of offense would be wise to select him.
Yes, he can score plenty of goals, but his passing prowess is what makes him particularly intriguing as a prospect. He has experience as captain of his club team and his Canadian national team, so there is an element of leadership here as well.
C/LW Leon Draisaitl, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Leon Draisaitl is a playmaker along the front lines for Prince Albert, and he was recently named the March Player of the Month in the WHL for his efforts.
His lengthy frame allows him to shield off defenders and maintain his puck control as he attacks the net, but his vision as a passer makes him a potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft.
Ultimately, who the Panthers select will depend on if they want offense or defense.
Florida could use an influx of both because it ranked 29th in the league in both goals per game and goals against per game. Reinhart, Draisaitl or Sam Bennett would improve the goal scoring, while Ekblad would provide a manner of toughness and physicality to the back line.
The Panthers really can’t go wrong with any of these players.
Follow me on Twitter: