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Edmonton Oilers win top pick in NHL Draft Lottery

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- The Edmonton Oilers will pick first in the 2015 NHL Draft after winning the NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday.

The Oilers had an 11.5 percent chance, third-best, to win the first pick in the draft, which will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Edmonton is likely to use the pick to select center Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League. McDavid is ranked the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting after scoring 44 goals and 120 points in 47 games.

"It's going to be a dream come true and it's a great situation to be in," McDavid said. "[Edmonton has had] fan support even through a little bit of a tough slide they have gone through for a few years. The fan support they still receive is amazing, and the group of guys they have there is pretty special. If it happens to be me that is selected there, it would be a tremendous honor to step in with a group of talent like that."

Edmonton general manager Craig MacTavish said he is thrilled with the possibility of drafting McDavid.

"He's not only the most productive junior player, but also the most dynamic," MacTavish said from Switzerland, where he is on a scouting trip.

MacTavish said winning the draft lottery can do wonders for his franchise. The Oilers, who will pick first for the fourth time in six years, have failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the past nine seasons.

"I can't tell you how exciting it is for us to win this lottery," MacTavish said. "Any team would have been just over the moon about winning the lottery, and we're the same. It's a game-changer."

The Buffalo Sabres, who had the worst record in the NHL this season and best chance to win the lottery (20 percent), dropped to the second pick. The Arizona Coyotes, who finished next to last (13.5 percent), fell to third.

MacTavish was asked if there is any possibility he would entertain the thought of trading the pick.

"Zero," he said.

The Oilers, who finished 24-44-14 this season, used prior No. 1 picks to draft forwards Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) and Nail Yakupov (2012).

Expected to be chosen second by Buffalo is the No. 2-ranked North American skater, center Jack Eichel, who scored 26 goals and had 71 points in 40 games with Boston University of Hockey East. Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award as U.S. college hockey's best player.

"It's tough to think about playing for a team next year when the draft hasn't happened yet," said Eichel, who would not commit to turning pro next season. "A lot of things can happen on draft day. Nothing is set in stone yet. It would be really nice to play (in Buffalo). There is so much tradition there and it is a great hockey city."

A weighted system determined the order of the first round for the 14 teams that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The other teams in the lottery were the Toronto Maple Leafs (9.5 percent chance), Carolina Hurricanes (8.5), New Jersey Devils (7.5), Philadelphia Flyers (6.5), Columbus Blue Jackets (6), San Jose Sharks (5), Colorado Avalanche (3.5), Florida Panthers (3), Dallas Stars (2.5), Los Angeles Kings (2) and Boston Bruins (1).

"When you have an 80 percent chance of losing something, you have to be ready for that and think that is probably going to be the case, and that was the case," Buffalo general manager Tim Murray said.

Many would consider getting Eichel a very good consolation prize for the Sabres.

"We don't have the first pick, but we have the second pick and we have said all along there are two top-end, impact players, if not franchise players in this draft and they both play the right position (center) for rebuilding," Murray said, "so as disappointed as we are in not having the No. 1 pick, we're extremely happy to be picking No. 2.".

Here is the order for the first 14 picks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft:

1. Edmonton Oilers

2. Buffalo Sabres

3. Arizona Coyotes

4. Toronto Maple Leafs

5. Carolina Hurricanes

6. New Jersey Devils

7. Philadelphia Flyers

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

9. San Jose Sharks

10. Colorado Avalanche

11. Florida Panthers

12. Dallas Stars

13. Los Angeles Kings

14. Boston Bruins

The NHL announced changes to the draft lottery format in August which included adjusting the odds of winning the first pick. The 10 highest-finishing non-playoff qualifying teams received higher (better) draft lottery odds than they had previously; the four lowest-finishing teams received lower (worse) odds.

The lottery machine randomly selected four balls. The resulting four-number series (without regard to selection order) was matched against a chart that showed all possible combinations and the team to which each was assigned.

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