Just because the Buffalo Sabres are virtually assured of finishing last overall doesn’t mean they are heavy favorites to win the draft lottery and select first overall in June.
The Sabres have just a 25 percent chance of winning the draft lottery and getting first pick. Their most likely outcome for Buffalo is to select second overall. That would happen if any of the other 13 non-playoff teams won the draft lottery and moved up to first pick.
The NHL altered the draft lottery odds last year allowing all 14 teams a chance at winning first pick. In previous seasons, only five teams had a chance at first pick, meaning the team finishing 30th had a 48.2 percent chance of gaining first pick, either by winning the lottery or having teams sixth worst to 14th worst win the lottery.
Buffalo’s magic number to finish 30th is two. Any combination of two Buffalo losses or Edmonton wins in the remaining eight games secures last overall for the Sabres.
The lottery will take place in the first couple of days after the regular season ends April 13. The 2014 draft is June 27-28 in Philadelphia. There’s a group of four prospects at the head of the class this year. They are Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay center Sam Reinhart, Kingston left winger Sam Bennett and Prince Albert center Leon Draisaitl.
Regardless of where New Jersey finishes, its first round pick will slip to the 30th spot as part of the penalty for the team trying to sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a contract that circumvented the salary cap. The Ottawa pick belongs to Anaheim as part of the Bobby Ryan trade last year.
The following chart lists each team’s chances for winning first pick and most likely outcome in the lottery, as of today’s standings. We’ll update this again as the season comes to an end.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN
Many coined Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick as the “Big 3” when it comes to goaltending last summer. After all, in fantasy hockey the goaltender is the most difficult position to project, so it’s good to know there are at least three you can rely on every year to post good numbers. Do everything you can to acquire one of those three, because then you won’t have to worry about that roster spot.
Or so the theory goes.
That theory sure went out the window quickly. Rinne and Quick missed almost the entire first half, while Lundqvist probably wishes he did. This is one season in recent memory where depth goaltenders and quick thinking on the waiver wire with backup netminders saved the season for many poolies.
Let’s take a look at the biggest questions fantasy owners have about that area between the pipes for 2014-15.
This is the 20th season the Anaheim Ducks have been in the NHL and until Monday night, they had never, ever come back and won a game in which they’d trailed by four goals. Not even when they were known as the Mighty Ducks.
We’re not even going to guess at how many F-bombs Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau hurled at his team after the first two periods of the Ducks 5-4 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets, but we’re willing to bet there was a fair bit of salt to his language. Whatever he did, it worked on everyone from stars Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to lesser lights such as Patrick Maroon and Daniel Winnik. Read more
The St. Louis Blues are very pleased with the performance of goaltender Ryan Miller, who was acquired from Buffalo days before the trade deadline. Miller is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer and Blues management hope to open contract talks at season’s end.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the 33-year-old goalie could wait for free agency to see if the Anaheim Ducks are still interested in his services. McKenzie claims there was early-season speculation the Ducks unsuccessfully attempted to acquire Miller from the Sabres. Anaheim could be a good fit for Miller as his wife is a Hollywood actress. Read more
There isn’t much hockey to be played before the post-season takes over and the race for rookie of the year is tightening up. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon appeared to put a hammer lock on the race with his big 13-game point streak, but Tampa’s Ondrej Palat may have something to say about that. Here’s how I see the race right now:
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
The Avs have defied odds and remained a viable playoff team in what was thought to be a learning year and having MacKinnon’s skilled power game has contributed to the team’s devastating balance up front. Nate Dogg still leads the rookie pack with 23 goals and 55 points in 73 games.
It’s been said elite athletes see their sport through a different set of eyes. Apparently, the same can be said of photographers.
Renowned hockey shooter Bruce Bennett, who has captured frozen images of hockey’s biggest moments since the 1970s, recently tinkered with an infrared camera during a couple games: Washington-Anaheim at the Honda Center March 18 and Phoenix-New Jersey in Newark March 27. The results are fascinating, bordering on eerie, like something out of an old-school sci-fi film.
The Stanley Cup handoff is one of hockey’s warm traditions, either our final morsel of mystery in a long season or a time of uplifting sentimentality. Sometimes it’s both.
Whatever the case, it’s always an homage of respect when the captain of the winning team identifies a peer and passes the world’s most iconic trophy to No. 2 in the pecking order. Joe Sakic to Ray Bourque in 2001, Steve Yzerman to Scotty Bowman in 2002 and Scott Niedermayer to brother Rob in 2007 are some of the more indelible moments.
More often than not in recent years, the honor has gone to a veteran who’s tasting ultimate NHL glory for the first time. Last season it was 36-year-old Michal Handzus, in 2012 35-year-old Willie Mitchell got the call and in 2008 38-year-old Dallas Drake had his turn.
Anaheim had been in a funk, but last night’s meeting with Florida took care of all that. Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne put a stamp on the outing with this pretty give-and-go routine.