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Sabres, Coyotes looking forward after Draft Lottery

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Edmonton Oilers' victory at the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery produced excitement in Edmonton, but there were two teams they passed in the process.

The Oilers had the third-worst record in the NHL but will have the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, ahead of the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes, who finished lower in the standings.

Buffalo had a 20 percent chance to be given the first pick, Arizona 13.5 percent, and Edmonton 11.5 percent in the weighted system that included the 14 teams that did not reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"When you have an 80 percent chance of losing something, you have to be ready for that and think that’s probably going to be the case," Sabres general manager Tim Murray said. "It almost feels like you’re a World Junior player getting that call at 6 in the morning from Team Canada saying that you haven’t made it this year. You know what? We’ll get over it. We’ll get back to work tomorrow and get ready for the draft."

The Sabres had the worst record in the NHL for the second consecutive season and will pick second again. The Florida Panthers won the 2014 NHL Draft Lottery and used the first pick to select defenseman Aaron Ekblad; the Sabres picked center Sam Reinhart.

This year's top two prospects are Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel.

"We’ve said along there’s two top-end, impact players, if not franchise players, in this draft," Murray said. "They both play the right position, in [our] opinion, for rebuilding. As disappointed as we are in not having the No. 1 pick, we’re extremely happy to be able to pick 2 still."

The Coyotes finished two points ahead of the Sabres in the standings.

"It didn’t go the way we had expected, but now we’re turning our focus to the fact that we’re still picking third, which is going to be a very, very talented player," Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said. "The expectation is that it may be a player that requires a little bit more development, so maybe not NHL ready next year, but a [No. 3] pick, especially in this draft, this deep draft, possibly is a [No. 1] pick any other year. So that’s what we need to focus on.

"... Look, one player doesn’t win a Stanley Cup, and we are pretty excited about the prospect pool we already have. Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Brendan Perlini, pretty talented players. We know we’re picking third this year, and let’s not forget we’ve got some pretty great players on our team already. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mikkel Boedker, Martin Hanzal, Mike Smith, Shane Doan, this is a good team.

"The season we had this year, I don’t see it being repeated next year. Are we going to win the Cup next year? Well it’s certainly what we think of when we start, but will we be a playoff contender? I certainly hope so. … The future is bright for this franchise; it just could’ve been a little bit brighter tonight is the way we need to look at it."

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