Rasmus Dahlin, a defenseman projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, is likely to learn his destination when the NHL Draft Lottery is held Saturday.
The drawing will assign the first three teams to pick at the draft, which will be held June 22-23 in Dallas. There will be separate drawings to determine the teams that will pick No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, and the 12 teams not selected in the lottery will be assigned selections Nos. 4-15 in inverse order of regular-season points.
Picks 4-15 will be announced during the "2018 NHL Draft Lottery Show" on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS). The top three selections will be revealed during the second intermission of Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
[Draft Lottery lookup tables: By number | By team]
Picks 16-27 will be set after the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with picks 28-31 going to the four remaining teams in an order to be determined.
Here are five questions to consider in preparation for the draft lottery:
1. Which teams have the best odds of winning the lottery?
The Buffalo Sabres have an 18.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick after finishing with the fewest points (62) in the NHL this season. The last time the Sabres selected No. 1 was 1987, when they chose center Pierre Turgeon.
The Ottawa Senators finished with the second-fewest points (67) and have a 13.5 percent chance of winning. The Senators have chosen No. 1 three times, selecting forward Alexandre Daigle in 1993, defenseman Bryan Berard in 1995, and defenseman Chris Phillips in 1996.
The Arizona Coyotes have the third-best odds at 11.5 percent, followed by the Montreal Canadiens (9.5 percent), the Detroit Red Wings (8.5 percent), the Vancouver Canucks (7.5 percent), the Chicago Blackhawks (6.5 percent), the New York Rangers (6.0 percent), the Edmonton Oilers (5.0 percent), the New York Islanders (3.5 percent), the Carolina Hurricanes (3.0 percent), the Islanders with a pick acquired from the Calgary Flames (2.5 percent), the Dallas Stars (2.0 percent), the St. Louis Blues (1.5 percent), and the Florida Panthers (1.0 percent).
2. How confident should Buffalo fans be with having the best odds of winning the lottery?
If history is any guide, not very.
Of the past six lottery drawings, the team that finished last in points won the draft lottery once. That was in 2016, when the Toronto Maple Leafs, with a 20.0 percent chance of winning, got the No. 1 pick and selected center Auston Matthews.
The Sabres finished last in 2013-14 and 2014-15, but the Panthers (Aaron Ekblad, 2014) and Oilers (Connor McDavid, 2015) won the lottery. The No. 1 pick has gone to the team with the fewest points seven times in 23 previous lottery drawings.
3. Who are the top prospects teams are hoping to select with their winning lottery picks?
Dahlin, a 6-foot-2, 181-pound left-shot defenseman, is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters eligible for the draft. He's likely to be the first Sweden-born player selected No. 1 since forward Mats Sundin by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989.
Dahlin had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists), a plus-4 rating, 30 hits, 36 blocked shots and 84 shots on goal in 41 games for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League. The 18-year-old was named the best defenseman at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship after he had six assists and a plus-7 rating in seven games to help Sweden win the silver medal.
Right wing Andrei Svechnikov (6-2, 188) of Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League could be chosen No. 2. Svechnikov, No. 1 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, had 72 points (40 goals, 32 assists), 174 shots on goal and was plus-26 in 44 games. That includes a run of 58 points (30 goals, 28 assists) in 34 games after returning Dec. 8 from a hand injury that sidelined him 17 games.
Players who also could go in the top five include left wing Brady Tkachuk (6-3, 196) of Boston University in Hockey East; right wing Filip Zadina (6-0, 195) of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; defenseman Evan Bouchard (6-2, 193) of London (OHL); defenseman Noah Dobson (6-3, 180) of Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL); defenseman Quintin Hughes (5-9, 170) of the University of Michigan in the Big Ten; and defenseman Adam Boqvist (5-11, 168) of Brynas in the Swedish junior league.
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4. How deep is the draft class of 2018?
Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said the depth of talent among defenseman goes beyond Dahlin.
"The success of smaller, smart and skilled defensemen at the NHL level has created the opportunity for many more defensemen to be considered as high picks in the draft," Marr said. "This year there are a wide variety of defensemen in all sizes and styles of play that are displaying the skills and attributes it takes to play and get the job done at the NHL level, whether it's as a top-four defensemen or in a 5-6 role."
5. What's next for the prospects after the lottery is completed?
The 2018 NHL Scouting Combine, which features the top 104 draft-eligible players from North America and Europe, will be held at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo from May 27 to June 2. The 31 NHL teams will have an opportunity to interview players and review medical and injury information. The fitness testing portion will be June 2.
"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 that isn't always displayed on the ice. It's these one-on-one sessions that can help teams solidify their draft interest in a player."
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