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Oilers have best odds of winning first pick of Draft

by Adam Kimelman
Will the ping-pong balls bounce the Edmonton Oilers' way again? Oilers GM Steve Tambellini hopes they will on Tuesday, when the National Hockey League Draft Drawing takes place (8 p.m., VERSUS, TSN).

The 14 teams that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs will have a chance to hear their name called, but since teams only can move up a maximum of four spots, the only ones with a chance to win the first pick are the Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.

The 2011 Entry Draft will be held June 24-25 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The Oilers finished 30th in the League standings this season, their second straight time they’ve come in last. They were there last year and won the lottery -- and with it the right to select Taylor Hall with the first pick of the draft. It was the third straight year the team that finished with the fewest points in the League won the lottery.

"If you're in that position, you want to be in control of the draft," said Tambellini. "We're hoping we win the lottery. If you're in that spot, it's important. You'd rather be able to control the draft."

No team ever has won the lottery two straight years, but the Oilers have the best shot, at 25.0 percent. The Avalanche have the second-best odds at 18.8 percent, followed by the Panthers (14.2), the Islanders (10.7) and the Senators (8.1).

If a team from outside the top five wins the lottery, that team will move up four spots from where it's currently ranked, and Edmonton will pick first. No team can move back more than one spot, so the Oilers are guaranteed of having a top-two pick.

Of the teams outside the top five, the one with the best odds at moving up is the Thrashers (6.2 percent chance of winning lottery), followed by the Blue Jackets (4.7), the Devils (3.6), the Bruins, who hold the Maple Leafs' pick (2.7), the Wild (2.1), the Blues (1.5), the Hurricanes (1.1), the Flames (0.8) and the Stars (0.5).

The Blues could be an interesting team to watch. If they remain at No. 11, that pick goes to the Colorado Avalanche as part of February's trade that sent defenseman Erik Johnson to the Avs for forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. If the Blues move into the top 10, however, they have the option of keeping the pick and sending their 2012 first-round pick to the Avs.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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