Hi, my name is Ken…and I’m addicted to the draft lottery simulator

Connor McDavid (Photo by Ken Andersen/Getty Images)

Spoiler alert: The Buffalo Sabres will win tonight’s NHL draft lottery with the numbers 11, 5, 6 and 7. Your trusty correspondent knows this because he went to this really cool website that simulates the NHL draft lottery and it told him so.

Then he did it 99 more times because, like a certain potato chip, you can’t do it only once. The website, http://nhllotterysimulator.com/#/official, took on a new life on Friday when the NHL made public the lottery number combinations for each of the 14 teams in the event. Suddenly, fans everywhere could, with the click of a keyboard, determine where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will end up next season. Read more

Draft lottery odds: the most likely outcome for your team

Connor McDavid (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

It’s amazing how things will change by Saturday night. Connor McDavid will know which NHL team he will belong to. The McDavid parents will know in which city their son’s adult life will begin to unfold and flourish. Vendors will go crazy preparing McDavid jerseys, signs and apparel.

(And make no mistake, McDavid will be the first overall selection in the June 26-27 NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. There will be zero drama with that pick.)

The NHL’s draft lottery will be televised Saturday night at 8 pm. The proceedings will begin about 7:30, but the drawing of lottery balls will take place about a half hour later. McDavid’s most likely destination is a city other than Buffalo, but Buffalo has the best odds of all the 14 non-playoff teams. Here’s how it works.

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Couture and Thornton sound off; what happens next in San Jose?

Ryan Kennedy
Joe Thornton (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

When San Jose GM Doug Wilson referred to his Sharks as a “tomorrow team” in the summer, he certainly tempered expectations as to what the ceiling of the 2014-15 squad was. But how many people thought the Sharks would miss the playoffs altogether? Can’t say I predicted that.

And clearly some of San Jose’s best players didn’t anticipate it either, as they had strong words for the organization before heading out for the summer. Several of these ripostes have been collected by the San Jose Mercury News. First, we have two-way center Logan Couture, talking about the team’s overall culture:

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Todd McLellan Era in San Jose looks to be over, but roster move of consequence is also necessary

Adam Proteau
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan talks to players including Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau. (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the highly rumored split between the Sharks and head coach Todd McLellan may happen as soon as Wednesday, with both sides announcing a “mutual agreement” to sever McLellan’s employment with the franchise and make him one of the most highly sought-after bench bosses on the market this summer.

McLellan – who was announced Tuesday as Team Canada’s head coach at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic – will be fine. But what about the Sharks? I’ve argued recently San Jose isn’t necessarily destined to continue sliding down the Western Conference standings, but some major roster move is likely – and I’m not just talking about another shocking signing like the Sharks adding one-dimensional John Scott. Read more

New Leafs coach must be hired based on on-ice philosophy, not NHL resume or familiarity factor

Claude Julien (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

With interim coach Peter Horachek included in team president Brendan Shanahan’s housecleaning Sunday, the Maple Leafs are going to have their fourth bench boss in three years by the time the 2015-16 season begins. And although it’s tempting for Leafs fans to speculate on and salivate over some of the names expected to be available, Toronto’s next hire doesn’t have to have a familiarity factor with fans in order for it to be right. The next head coach of the Leafs just has to have the right on-ice philosophy – one based on teaching and patience – to put the franchise back on track.

It will be tempting for Shanahan and whomever he hires as GM (if he doesn’t take that role himself) to be dazzled by the slew of accomplished coaches who’ll apply for the position, but the problem with those types of coaches can be they’re far more interested in winning now than they are in developing the young talent Toronto will placing its organizational bets on in the years to come. Read more

After Brossoit’s dandy debut, here are the top five first games of 2014-15

Laurent Brossoit (Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

Thursday night, Laurent Brossoit made his NHL debut between the pipes for the Edmonton Oilers. By the end of the evening, Brossoit was trotted out as the game’s first star after turning aside 49 of the 51 shots he faced.

Brossoit’s 49 stops made him the first goaltender since Manny Legace in 1998 to turn aside that much rubber in his debut. Even with his miraculous performance, the Oilers failed to take home the victory and were downed 3-1 by the San Jose Sharks.

Scoring the game-winning goal for the Sharks was Bryan Lerg, who, at 29, was also playing his first game in the big league. Lerg had bounced around the AHL for seven seasons heading into Thursday’s game, but he made the most of his first shot at NHL action, scoring with 2:52 remaining in the third period to lift the Sharks to victory.

Excluding Brossoit’s incredible first outing, here are the five best debuts of 2014-15: Read more

NHL’s SnapChamp Era begins: Flames, Jets make playoffs; defending-champ Kings – & maybe, Bruins or Pens – are out

Flames players celebrate a 3-1 home win over L.A. – and making the playoffs this year – in front of a raucous home crowd in Calgary. (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

Watching the NHL’s action play out Thursday night was kind of like covering a political election and seeing the polls come in and herald a new leader for a new era. In one polling station, you had the Boston Bruins – the league’s top regular-season team last year – falling to the Florida Panthers and putting their playoff fate in the hands of the surging Ottawa Senators and wobbly Pittsburgh Penguins (who, like the Bruins, won a Stanley Cup not too long ago); In another station, you saw the Calgary Flames hold off the desperate Los Angeles Kings and register a 3-1 win, eliminating the defending Cup champions from the post-season and securing a playoff berth for the Winnipeg Jets.

Change was everywhere, and more change could be coming. Depending on what happens Friday and Saturday, the Eastern Conference playoff picture could have three teams (the Sens, Capitals and Islanders) who weren’t in the 2014 post-season, and the Western Conference will have four teams (Vancouver, Nashville, Calgary and Winnipeg) in this year’s playoffs who weren’t there last year. A 43.75 percent playoff turnover rate is one thing, but it’s not just the fact there are potentially seven new post-season teams this year that’s so intriguing; it’s the great distance teams are falling that has NHL executives clenching their teeth and always worrying about what’s ahead. Read more