Florida won the draft lottery last night, meaning the Panthers get the first crack at an interesting field with a lot of variation in it. A lot goes into a draft list and the final results are always thrown into chaos by trades and reaches. As the draft gets closer and teams decide who they like the most, I’ll get a more accurate picture of how things might shake down. But for now, here’s a quick-and-dirty look at what could happen come draft day in Philadelphia, based on the teams’ current situation.
1. Florida – Aaron Ekblad, Barrie Colts, D
Yeah, yeah, defensemen never go first overall anymore (Erik Johnson was the last in 2006), but the Cats are loaded up front with Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau. Their best ‘D’ prospects are still in college, whereas Ekblad can step in right away and play a top-four role.
Turnabout is fair play for the Florida Panthers. At last year’s draft lottery, the second-to-last Colorado Avalanche leap-frogged the Panthers to win first overall pick. This year, it was the Panthers who did the leap-frogging.
Florida moved up one spot in the draft and won the right to select first overall in the 2014 NHL draft June 27 in Philadelphia. The Panthers had an 18.8 percent chance of winning the lottery, held Tuesday night in Toronto. The last-place Buffalo Sabres had the best chance of winning – 25 percent – but will slip to the second overall spot.
The remainder of the top 13 picks follow in reverse order of NHL standings. Edmonton picks third followed by Calgary fourth and the New York Islanders fifth. Vancouver is sixth, Carolina seventh, Toronto eighth, Winnipeg ninth, Anaheim (from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade) 10th, Nashville 11th, Phoenix 12th and Washington 13th. The New Jersey Devils slip to the 30th spot as league penalty for trying to circumvent the NHL salary cap.
Winning the lottery is nice for the Panthers, but it doesn’t mean as much in a draft that is considered very equal among the top three, four, even five prospects according to most scouts. Florida is weakest on the blueline and will surely be tempted to select Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad first overall.
Canadian teams will be well-represented in Tuesday’s NHL draft lottery.
Hey, we have to find something nice to say as the Montreal Canadiens are the only team north of the border to make the playoffs. The other six Canadian cities are among the top 10 teams vying to win the lottery and earn the right to select first overall.
Below you’ll see a listing for the 14 non-playoff teams and their chances to select first overall in the June 27-28 draft in Philadelphia. Most interesting is the likely outcome column which shows the varying percentage chances your favorite team will place.
In an odd quirk of the schedule, this weekend’s games didn’t mean much for the playoff race. Every post-season team was already determined by the end of Friday, meaning all that remained this weekend was to figure out matchups and the President’s Trophy winner.
So with the battle for the Stanley Cup on pause, many teams chose to make it a weekend full of career firsts – and career lasts.
Last night might have been Martin Brodeur’s last game in a New Jersey Devil uniform.
And it might be a night he’d rather forget.
Brodeur had the chance to play hero in the shootout against the New York Islanders.
Instead, two young Isles stole the show with spin-o-rama goals.
First came Josh Bailey‘s spin-o-rama move, followed by Ryan Strome doing the same thing. Each skater blew a heavy spray of snow in Brodeur’s face before looping back and stuffing the puck past him. Read more
As the regular season winds down, so does the career of Ryan Smyth, who announced Friday that he’ll retire after his final game Saturday night in Edmonton against the Vancouver Canucks.
Smyth will leave the NHL the same way he came in: wearing an Edmonton Oilers jersey. As he should. Some in similar shoes hope to have an even better exit – like carrying Stanley out the door – while others will have to settle for less glamorous goodbyes if they leave. At 38, Smyth is the youngest on this list of greybeards who have to decide whether they should stay or go.
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will reportedly step down at season’s end, handing the management reins to Ron Francis, the club’s current vice-president of hockey operations.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes the biggest decision facing Francis is deciding whether to buy out the remaining four years and $28 million of winger Alexander Semin’s contract. The 30-year-old has had a poor showing this season, with 22 goals and 42 points in 65 games. Garrioch claims if the Hurricanes fail to buy out Semin this summer they won’t get another chance.
Garrioch appears to be referring to a compliance buyout, as this June will be the last time NHL teams can make use of that option. Such buyouts, however, only apply to players under contract on or before September 15, 2012. Semin signed his current deal last March and is therefore ineligible. Read more
With age comes experience. With experience comes wisdom. With wisdom comes being lousy in the shootout.
That’s how it unfolded this season for the New Jersey Devils, the oldest team in the NHL. If the Devils weren’t the King of Suck when it comes to the shootout, they’d probably be in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
New Jersey lost all 12 games it played in the shootout. The Devils scored on just three of 43 shootout attempts for a shooting percentage of just 7.0. If the Devils were just league average in the shootout, they’d still be battling Detroit and Columbus for one of two wildcard playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.