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NHL Draft Lottery Preview: Pick #1

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- So you're saying there's a chance ...

That's a thought that fans of non-playoff teams have likely had since the regular season came to close earlier this month and we inch towards the NHL Draft Lottery on Apr. 30.

The lottery will operate under a new structure this year, with the first three picks being assigned via three lotteries and all non-playoff teams having a chance to win one of those three picks.

As a result of this new process, the team earning the least amount of points in the regular season is no longer guaranteed, at worst, the second overall selection. That team can now drop to fourth overall with the new lottery process.

The teams not selected in the three lottery draws will be assigned selections in inverse of regular season points.

The Calgary Flames have an 8.5 percent chance of winning the first overall pick at the 2016 NHL Draft as they finished 26th overall in the regular season.

Looking ahead to the draft, CalgaryFlames.com has highlighted three players that could be selected at each position the Flames could be selecting at. Today, we're featuring the first overall pick.

FIRST OVERALL PICK

Auston Matthews - Center

Birthdate: Sept. 17, 1997

Birthplace: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

Shoots: Left

Height: 6'2

Weight: 194 lbs.

This is fairly self-explanatory.

The Arizona product has been highly touted for years and only elevated his standing this season by joining the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A. While facing off against men, the pivot finished second in team scoring with 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games. He led all Zurich skaters with a 1.28 points-per-game average.

A well-rounded forward who is already adept at playing in all three zones, Matthews is prolific scorer with a wicked shot that he can get off in a hurry. His skating is top-notch and he can hit top speed within his first three strides. He has been tabbed as a potential generational talent by many scouting agencies.

Patrik Laine - Right Wing

Birthdate: Apr. 19, 1998

Birthplace: Tampere, Finland

Shoots: Right

Height: 6'4

Weight: 209 lbs.

While Matthews appears to be the consensus first overall pick, there is always a chance a team will go a bit off the map. Laine and his fellow Finn Jesse Puljujarvi are extremely talented wingers who aren't far off from Matthews.

Laine spent the 2015-16 season playing for Tappara in the Finnish Liiga league, racking up 17 goals and 33 points in 46 games. In the playoffs, he scored nine goals and 14 points in 17 appearances and set a new Liiga record for goals scored in a single rookie playoff run. Laine also won gold with Finland at the 2016 World Junior Championship, scoring seven goals and 13 points at the tournament.

Known for his goal scoring ability, Laine has a powerful wrist shot and a hard one-timer that can handcuff goaltenders. He is willing to use his 6-foot-4 frame to bulldoze his way through traffic and open up space for himself, making him dangerous as soon as he enters the offensive zone. Thanks to his size and ability to read plays, he can be near-impossible to contain.

Jesse Puljujarvi - Right Wing

Birthdate: May 7, 1998

Birthplace: Älvkarleby, Sweden

Shoots: Right

Height: 6'3

Weight: 201 lbs.

Like Laine, Puljujarvi squared off against men in the 2015-16 season, playing for Kärpät in the Finnish Liiga league. In 50 regular season games, he scored 13 goals and posted 28 points. Puljujarvi also scored four goals and nine points in 10 postseason skates this spring. He played for Finland at the 2016 World Junior Championship, scoring five goals and 17 points on route to capturing gold. That point total ranks him second all-time for an under-18 player at the tournament, sitting behind Jaromír Jágr and tying Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros.

Puljujarvi is known as a playmaker but also has a hard, accurate shot that makes him an all-around offensive threat. The 17-year-old has an incredible hockey IQ for someone of his age, is strong defensively, and can be trusted in all situations. At 6-foot-3, he has the physical edge on many of his opponents and will use his size to open up space. He is also a strong skater with plenty of speed to burn.

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