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2017 Draft: Golden Knights hoping to land No. 1 pick

Vegas has third-best odds to win NHL Draft Lottery

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights hope to hit the jackpot at the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Golden Knights, the first NHL expansion team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the League in 2000, were inserted into the lottery with the same 10.3 percent odds as the Arizona Coyotes, the team that finished the regular season with the third-fewest points.

The Golden Knights will be guaranteed no lower than the No. 6 pick in the first round and will have the No. 3 choice in each subsequent round.

The lottery will determine the order of the first 15 picks of the 2017 NHL Draft, which will be held June 23-24 at United Center in Chicago.

The NHL changed the lottery format in August 2014, and for the second time the lottery drawing will assign the first three picks of the draft. There will be separate lotteries for the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 selections. The 12 teams not selected in the lottery will be assigned selections Nos. 4 through 15, in inverse order of regular-season points.

The remaining 16 picks of the draft will be determined at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here are five questions to consider in preparation for the draft lottery:


1. Which teams have the best odds of winning the lottery?

The Colorado Avalanche have the best odds, 18.0 percent, of winning the No. 1 pick after finishing with the fewest points (48) in the NHL. The last time the Avalanche selected No. 1 was 2013, when they chose center Nathan MacKinnon.

Video: STL@COL: MacKinnon uses nifty hands for SO win

The Vancouver Canucks, who have never selected No. 1 but have chosen No. 2 on four occasions, finished with the second-fewest points and have a 12.1 percent chance of winning.

Here is the complete list of odds for the 15 teams.


2. How confident should Colorado fans be having the highest odds of winning the lottery?

Only once in the past five drawings has the team that finished 30th won the draft lottery. That occurred last year when the Toronto Maple Leafs won with 20.0 percent odds and selected center Auston Matthews, who scored 40 goals, tied with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov for second in the NHL, and is a finalist for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

Seven times in the 22 previous lottery drawings has the first pick gone to the team with the fewest points.


3. Who are the top prospects teams are hoping to select with their winning lottery picks?

Brandon center Nolan Patrick is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the draft. He is the son of former NHL forward Steve Patrick and nephew of former NHL defenseman James Patrick.


[RELATED:Final 2017 NHL Draft rankings]


Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) had 46 points (20 goals, 46 assists) in 33 games this season. He missed 35 games because of an upper-body injury and missed Brandon's four WHL playoff games because of a lower-body injury, but scouts have a long history with his ability in the WHL and project him as a future top-line center. 

Halifax center Nico Hischier (6-1, 176) is No. 2 on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters. He won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the best professional prospect and the Michel Bergeron Trophy as offensive rookie of the year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after he had 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games in his first season in North America. He impressed at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship for Switzerland with seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games.

Other top players available include center Casey Mittelstadt (6-1, 201) of Eden Prairie High School (Minn.), center Gabriel Vilardi (6-3, 201) of Windsor in the Ontario Hockey League, defenseman Miro Heiskanen (6-0, 170) of HIFK in Finland, defenseman Cale Makar (5-11, 180) of Brooks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and defenseman Timothy Liljegren (6-0, 191) of Rogle in Sweden.

Video: NHL Central Scouting's Gregory on 2017 Draft class


4. How deep is the 2017 draft class?

Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, likes the caliber of talent even though there may not be a generational talent like Matthews or Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who was the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.

"Our final ranking lists many centers in the top 10, but you could say the strength of the draft is in forwards, and I would also re-emphasize that there is depth with the goaltenders, with one or two being considered later in the first round," Marr said. "I expect a good run of goalies could be taken in the top three rounds this year."


5. What's next for the prospects after the lottery is completed?

The 2017 NHL Scouting Combine, which features the top 106 draft-eligible players from North America and Europe, will be held at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo from May 29 to June 3. The 31 teams will have an opportunity to interview players and view medical records. The fitness testing portion will be held June 3.

"The scouting combine allows NHL clubs the opportunity to have in-depth interviews with prospects, and often these interviews serve to confirm what a team already knows about a player and his abilities," Marr said. "But it also can provide some revealing insight into a player's personality and character which isn't always displayed on the ice. It's these 1-on-1 sessions that can help teams solidify their draft interest in a player."

Video: Morreale joins the show to talk NHL Draft prospects

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