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Puck Luck: NJD lands first overall pick in 2017 NHL Draft

A look back at the first overall NHL Draft selections since 2012

by Brian Born @BrianBorn / newjerseydevils.com

Puck luck was on the Devils side on Saturday night when the club won the first overall draft selection in the NHL Draft Lottery for the first time in team history. The Devils leap-frogged four other teams, winning the number one draft choice. Saturday night was reminiscent of 2011 when the Devils won the draft lottery, moving up four spots (from 8th to 4th). That year the Devils drafted defenseman Adam Larsson, who was traded last summer for 2010 NHL Draft first overall pick Taylor Hall. 

Winning the NHL Draft Lottery gives teams an opportunity to bolster their roster with top talent. Check out the breakdown of first overall draft selections since the Devils last lottery draft victory. 

2012- Edmonton Oilers- Nail Yakupov 

When it comes to winning the NHL Draft Lottery, no team has been more fortunate than the Edmonton Oilers. Since the inception of the lottery draft in 1995, Edmonton has come out on top four times (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015). After selecting Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall in the two previous drafts, the Oilers selected forward Nail Yakupov in 2012, adding to their breadth of young talent. During his four-year stint in Edmonton, Yakupov tallied 50g-61a in 252 games played. For a first overall selection, the Russian right-winger's time in Edmonton was cut short after being traded to the St. Louis Blues in 2016-17 in exchange for prospect Zach Pochiro and a conditional third-round pick in 2017.

2013- Colorado Avalanche- Nathan MacKinnon

Entering the 2013 NHL Draft Lottery, the Florida Panthers had the highest chances of winning the overall number one selection, but that didn't go as planned. The Avalanche won the lottery and selected top prospect Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall selection. MacKinnon made an immediate impact for the Avs, becoming their youngest player to ever dress for a regular season game. After a stellar rookie season, MacKinnon won the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. Since his selection in the draft, MacKinnon has become the Avs franchise player, signing a seven-year, $44.1 million extension in 2016. The 21-year-old center was selected to his first NHL All-Star Game in 2017 and has posted 75g-131a in four professional seasons. 

2014- Florida Panthers- Aaron Ekblad

Very few teams are given the opportunity to find a top-four defenseman who is NHL ready as an 18-year-old, so when the Florida Panthers won the NHL Draft Lottery, they were not going to let Aaron Ekblad slip through their fingers. In his rookie season, Ekblad was named the Calder Memorial Trophy winner, ousting fellow finalists Mark Stone (OTT) and Johnny Gaudreau (CGY). Ekblad has proven to excel as a puck-moving defenseman, tallying 37g-59a in 227 games played with the Panthers. In 2016, Ekblad agreed to an eight-year $60 million extension in 2016. 

2015- Edmonton Oilers- Connor McDavid

Didn't we already mention how the hockey gods have treated the Edmonton Oilers well in the NHL Draft Lottery? It would be hard to argue that the Oilers have ever had better fortune than in 2015 when the club selected Connor McDavid with the first overall pick. McDavid has proven to be a generational talent and has already been named as captain of the Oilers. McDavid was the consensus top player available in the draft and has lived up to the hype, racking up 46g-102a in just 127 games played. The 20-year-old Ontario-native is currently spearheading the Oilers impressive playoff run. 

2016- Toronto Maple Leafs- Auston Matthews

 Speaking of generational talent, Auston Matthews has been as good as advertised and more. Like McDavid, Matthews was clearly the best player during his draft year. The Toronto Maple Leafs became the first team since the Oilers in 2010 to win the NHL Draft Lottery after finishing the season with the best odds to win the No. 1 overall selection. During his rookie campaign, Matthews totaled 40g-29a en route to a playoff appearance, after the Leafs finished with the worst record in 2015-16. Before being eliminated by the Capitals in the opening round of the playoffs, Matthews proved why he was a number 1 pick, adding 4g-1a in the six-game series.

2017- New Jersey Devils- Find out on June 23rd!

The Devils will enter the 2017 NHL Entry Draft on June 23 with the first overall pick. Forwards Nolan Patrick (WHL) and Nico Hischier (QMJHL) have been deemed the top two prospects eligible for this year's draft. Both have the possibility to inject their future teams with a new source of offense next season. Which player do you think will look best in the New Jersey Devils red and black next season? 

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