GLENDALE – Co-owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc will represent the Coyotes at the Draft Lottery on Saturday night in Toronto. Like Coyotes fans everywhere, he’ll be crossing his fingers until then and hoping the team can win the lottery and move up to first in the order of selection for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in June.
"There’s no question that we’re going into this hoping to win the No. 1 pick," LeBlanc told arizonacoyotes.com. "The No. 1 pick would be a very dynamic player and someone we’d be able to put on the ice instantly. And, let’s be frank, the spotlight that winning the first overall pick would shine on our franchise would be very beneficial."
The Coyotes finished 29th in the NHL standings in 2014-15 and are slated to pick second overall in the upcoming draft. But the lottery, a weighted system utilized to determine the order of selection in the first round for the 14 Clubs not qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, could change that positioning. Per the lottery’s format, Arizona has a 13.5 percent chance to win the lottery on Saturday night and move up to No. 1, a 20.0 percent chance to stay at No. 2, and a 66.5 percent chance of moving down to No. 3. Per lottery rules, no team can drop more than one spot.
"There is no worst-case scenario for us unless you call drafting third in what is considered to be the deepest talent pool of prospects in a generation a worst-case scenario," LeBlanc said. "I’d say we’re in very good shape regardless of what happens at the lottery. Would we like to get No. 1 or stay at No. 2 as we’re currently slotted as the 29th team? Of course we would. But the fact that there is the potential that we could drop to No. 3 is not a terrible thing. We’d still get one heck of a talent who could help this club within the next two years."
The NHL Draft Lottery will be televised by NBC on Saturday starting at 5 p.m. (Arizona time). Should the Coyotes win it, LeBlanc is prepared to become the lottery’s guest of honor.
"I’m not an egomaniac, but I’d certainly welcome all the attention that would come my way because we’d have the No. 1 pick and I think that would be spectacular for our franchise," LeBlanc said.
Center Connor McDavid (Erie, OHL) and center Jack Eichel (Boston University, NCAA) are widely considered to be the top two prospects of this year’s draft class. Defenseman Noah Hanifin (Boston College, NCAA), center Dylan Strome (Erie, OHL) and winger Mitch Marner (London, OHL) are projected top-five picks.
The Coyotes/Jets franchise has picked first in the NHL Entry Draft just once before:
1981: Jets selected center Dale Hawerchuk
Hawerchuk played 713 games for the franchise (fourth most) and is in the team's Ring of Honor. He is the franchise leader in goals (379), points (929) and hat tricks (12). He also posted seven 40-plus goal seasons and six 100-plus point seasons.
The Coyotes/Jets franchise has picked second in the NHL Entry Draft just once before:
1980: Jets selected defenseman Dave Babych
Babych played 390 games for the franchise and ranks fifth on the franchise's list for goals by a defenseman (73), third on the franchise's list for assists by a defenseman (248) and third on franchise's list for points by a defenseman (321).
The Coyotes/Jets franchise has picked third in the NHL Entry Draft just once before:
2007: Coyotes selected forward Kyle Turris
Turris played 137 games for the franchise before being traded to Ottawa in 2011-12.