TORONTO -- New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero has been steadfast in his approach to acquire assets in an attempt to turn them into legitimate Stanley Cup Playoff contenders again.
He gained a significant piece Saturday by winning the NHL Draft Lottery and the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, which will be held at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24.
The Devils, who had an 8.5 percent chance at winning the lottery, will choose No. 1 for the first time since moving to New Jersey in 1982-83. They moved up from No. 5.
The Philadelphia Flyers won the No. 2 pick, moving up from No. 13, and the Dallas Stars get the No. 3 pick, up from No. 8.
The Devils did win the 2011 NHL Draft Lottery, which moved them up four spots to No. 4, where they selected defenseman Adam Larsson. New Jersey traded Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Taylor Hall on June 29.
"You know what your odds are and it happens real quickly, but for me it's really great for our franchise and our fans," Shero said. "Especially where we're going and what we want to do. We have 11 picks (in the 2017 draft) and now we have the No. 1 pick, which is a great building block for our franchise moving forward."
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It was the fifth time in the past six years that the team with the best odds at winning the lottery failed to get the top pick. The Colorado Avalanche had the best odds, with an 18.0 percent chance, but will pick No. 4. The Vancouver Canucks had the second-best odds (12.1 percent) but are No. 5.
Shero would not reveal who the Devils would select, but he didn't hold back when asked to provide some analysis of the projected top two players: center Nolan Patrick of Brandon in the Western Hockey League and center Nico Hischier of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Patrick is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
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. He has 205 points (92 goals, 113 assists) in 163 WHL games.
Video: Go inside Draft Lottery Room as picks are selected
Hischier (6-1, 176) is No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking 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 QMJHL after he had 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games in his first season in North America.
"They are both great players," Shero said. "Patrick went through injury this year but everybody knows he's a heck of a player and he's going to be very good. Hischier is a Swiss center with good size and talent. For us, these are two centers, two real good players. We're going to get one heck of a player and, at this point, that's what this franchise needs."
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The Devils, who finished 25 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, failed to qualify for the playoffs a fifth straight season.
Shero was asked if he would consider trading the No. 1 pick.
"You look at everything, obviously, but I didn't consider winning the pick, so that's a tough one to answer," he said. "With the first overall pick we know who the candidates are and there should be good debate at our amateur meetings beginning Monday.
"We got lucky. It was nothing I did, but now we have to take advantage of it."
The 14 NHL teams that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, along with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, participated in the lottery, which assigned the top three picks in the first round.
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. Vegas will pick No. 6 and Arizona will pick No. 7.
Three draws were held: the first determined the team selecting first, the second determined the team selecting second, and the third determined the team selecting third. Selections No. 16 through 31 will be determined by the results of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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The Flyers made the biggest jump in position since the lottery was introduced in 1995.
"Hopefully, in years to come, we'll look back at this as a huge turning point for us," Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall told The Associated Press.
It is the third time a team has moved from No. 5 to No. 1 (the New York Islanders in 2000, selected goaltender Rick DiPietro; Chicago Blackhawks in 2007; selected forward Patrick Kane).
The Colorado Rockies picked defenseman Rob Ramage with the No. 1 pick in the 1979 NHL Draft, before moving to New Jersey.
"This gives some optimism and hope to our fans, who deserve it," Shero said. "They've had some tough years lately, but certainly lived through a lot of good ones as well. [Devils coach John Hynes] has a good track record of developing good young players, and we're going to get one."
The order of the first 15 picks in the 2017 NHL Draft are as follows. Nos. 16-31 will be set following the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. Arizona Coyotes
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Winnipeg Jets
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. New York Islanders
Video: Recap of the 2017 NHL draft lottery results