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Panthers Hope to Make History at Draft Lottery

by Jameson Olive @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Grab your good luck charms; it's time to play the lottery!

The Florida Panthers are hoping the ping pong balls will bounce in their favor when the order of the first 15 picks in the first round of June's draft are decided at the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday, April 29 in Toronto.

The lottery will consist of three drawings to determine which team will pick first, second and third overall in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center in Chicago on Friday, June 23. As for the remaining 12 teams that don't land one of the draft's top three spots, they will be slotted in order of their 2016-17 regular-season records, from worst to best.

After finishing the season with a 35-36-11 record, the Panthers will enter this year's lottery with a 5.4 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall selection. If they miss out on the top spot, Florida still has a chance to bring home either the second or third pick in the draft, with those odds fluctuating based on the results of each previous draw. 

With their inaugural NHL season on the horizon, the Las Vegas Golden Knights will be participating in their first-ever Draft Lottery with the exact same odds as the team that finished with the third-worst regular-season record - in this case, the Arizona Coyotes. With that favorable seeding, Las Vegas is guaranteed to leave the event with no lower than the sixth overall selection.

As for everyone else, the allocation of odds for the 1st Lottery Draw is as follows:

TEAM (Fewest Pts. To Most)

ODDS %

Colorado Avalanche

18.0%

Vancouver Canucks

12.1%

Vegas Golden Knights

10.3%

Arizona Coyotes

10.3%

New Jersey Devils

8.5%

Buffalo Sabres

7.6%

Detroit Red Wings

6.7%

Dallas Stars

5.8%

Florida Panthers

5.4%

Los Angeles Kings

4.5%

Carolina Hurricanes

3.2%

Winnipeg Jets

2.7%

Philadelphia Flyers

2.2%

Tampa Bay Lightning

1.8%

New York Islanders

0.9%

As the ninth-seeded team, the Panthers are looking to take a monumental leap and become the highest-seeded team to ever win the Draft Lottery. The Chicago Blackhawks (1999) and New Jersey Devils (2011) both previously won the lottery from the eight spot. At the time, however, both Chicago and New Jersey were denied the top pick as teams could only move up four spots from their original position due to the lottery's stipulations at the time - a rule that lasted from 1995 through 2012.

Florida has previously won the Draft Lottery in 2002, 2003 and 2014.

In 2002 and 2003, the Panthers traded the No. 1 overall selection. In 2014, however, the team finally decided to hold onto the top spot, selecting defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the OHL's Barrie Colts. Ekblad went on to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 2014-15, setting a franchise record for points by a rookie defenseman with 39 - the third-most points in NHL history by a defenseman who remained 18 years old through at least Feb. 1.

Still, even if the Panthers don't make history and win the top selection in this year's lottery, there's no reason to fret; Since the arrival of General Manager Dale Tallon in 2010, the team has made a habit out of finding exceptional players throughout the first round, with former first-round picks such as Aleksander Barkov (2nd overall, 2013), Michael Matheson (23rd overall, 2012) and Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd overall, 2011) currently making up a large portion of the team's formidable core.

The results of the Draft Lottery will be announced shortly after 8 p.m. ET, during live coverage of the event on NBC, CBC and TVA. Coverage on CBC begins at 7:30 p.m., ET.

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