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Maple Leafs To Select First Overall

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs will pick first at the NHL draft for the first time in more than 30 years.

Toronto won the draft lottery on Saturday, securing the No. 1 overall pick and presumptive rights to select American centre Auston Matthews.

The Leafs haven't picked first since 1985 when they selected Wendel Clark from the Saskatoon Blades.

Finishing the 2015-16 regular season with the NHL's worst record, the Leafs had the best odds (20 per cent) of winning the lottery.

The club sunk to the bottom of the NHL standings amid a continuing roster overhaul which saw multiple veterans, including captain Dion Phaneuf, shipped out for future assets.

Toronto has picked in the top 10 of the first round in three of the previous four drafts, most recently choosing London Knights forward Mitch Marner with the fourth overall pick last June and William Nylander with the eighth overall selection in 2014.

Matthews, should the Leafs choose him, would join Marner, Nylander, and Morgan Rielly in a growing pool of young talent in Toronto, which currently has 11 other picks at the upcoming draft, including a second first round selection landed in the Phil Kessel trade last summer.

This was the first year in which three individual lotteries were performed for the first, second and third overall picks. The Winnipeg Jets earned the second overall selection, with the Columbus Blue Jackets receiving the rights to pick third.

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