TORONTO – The Buffalo Sabres will select eighth overall at the 2016 NHL Draft, which they'll host on June 24 and 25 at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres entered Saturday night with a 6-percent chance of winning the NHL Draft Lottery and selecting first overall, but the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had the best odds, won the lottery and now hold the top pick.
The winning combination of lottery balls for the first-overall pick was 5-6-8-13. Buffalo had a 1-in-6 chance of winning that lottery heading into the final draw, as they were assigned a combination of 5-6-8-9 heading in.
For the first time, the top three picks could be won by non-playoff teams in separate lotteries. Winnipeg jumped from sixth to second and the Columbus Blue Jackets moved up from fourth to third.
"It's still the draft and there's a lot of things that have to happen after the draft where you've got to put a player in a good position and give him every opportunity to succeed. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and put the cart ahead of the horse here," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said. "We knew we were going to get a good player 1 through 4. Having the ability to pick first, obviously, we're going to pick whoever we think is the best."
NHL Central Scouting's final rankings has U.S.-born forward Auston Matthews (Zurich/SWISS) topping the list of skaters playing in Europe. Wings Patrik Laine (Tappara/FINLAND) and Jesse Puljujarvi (Karpat/FINLAND) slotted second and third, respectively. They're likely to be the top three picks in the draft.
Among skaters playing in North American Leagues, left wings Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton/QMJHL), Matthew Tkachuk (London/OHL), Alexander Nylander (Mississauga/OHL), defenseman Jacob Chychrun (Sarnia/OHL) and Olli Juolevi (London/OHL) are the top five prospects according to Central Scouting.
"When you get an opportunity to draft at the top-end of the draft, those are the type of players that can make a difference," Jets executive vice president and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said.
"Every year is different so you don't know exactly what that player is going to do moving forward. But from what I've seen from the players at the top end of the draft, these are players that can make an impact over a period of time. No one player is going to come in and change a franchise overnight, but it's certainly a big building piece and a big building block moving forward.
"…Sitting here today, there's probably not a wrong decision in 1, 2, or 3. We're just excited that we get an opportunity to make one of those [picks]."
Three draws were held. The first drawing determined the club selecting first overall, the second drawing determined the club selecting second overall and the third drawing determined the club selecting third overall.
Once a club was assigned a pick through the Draft Lottery Drawing, it was ineligible for further participation in the Drawing.
The odds for the remaining teams increased on a proportionate basis for the second drawing, based on which club wins the first drawing, and again for the third drawing, based on which club wins the second drawing.
Buffalo last selected eighth overall in 2013 and picked defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who put up career-highs in goals (9), assists (32) and points (41) last season while averaging 25:16 of ice time per night (10th in the NHL).
HERE'S THE POST-LOTTERY DRAFT ORDER
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Winnipeg Jets
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Edmonton Oilers
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Calgary Flames
7. Arizona Coyotes
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Montreal Canadiens
10. Colorado Avalanche
11. New Jersey Devils
12. Ottawa Senators
13. Carolina Hurricanes
14. Boston Bruins
The 11 clubs not selected in the Draft Lottery Drawing will be assigned NHL Draft selections 4 through 14 in inverse order of regular-season points.
THESE WERE THE ODDS FOR THE 1ST-OVERALL PICK GOING IN
1. Toronto Maple Leafs 20.0%
2. Edmonton Oilers 13.5%
3. Vancouver Canucks 11.5%
4. Columbus Blue Jackets 9.5%
5. Calgary Flames 8.5%
6. Winnipeg Jets 7.5%
7. Arizona Coyotes 6.5%
8. Buffalo Sabres 6.0%
9. Montreal Canadiens 5.0%
10. Colorado Avalanche 3.5%
11. New Jersey Devils 3.0%
12. Ottawa Senators 2.5%
13. Carolina Hurricanes 2.0%
14. Boston Bruins 1.0%