With the NHL’s Draft Lottery set for Saturday night in Toronto, 14 teams and their fans are eagerly awaiting the results, hoping they can get a shot at prized-prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Still just teenagers, the pair have been described as “generational talents” that could change the fortunes of a franchise for years to come.
However, the man ultimately responsible for making Buffalo’s pick is treating it no differently than any other day on the job.
“I don’t think about the Draft Lottery. I just assume we’re going to lose, so it’s just another day,” Sabres GM Tim Murray said. “We’ve got an 80 percent chance of losing the lottery. So if I spent my days worrying about that, I’d be a basket case by Saturday. It’s just another day in the process.”
Watch the Draft Lottery live at 8 p.m. on CBC and NBC prior to the Rangers/Penguins game. Then stay tuned to Sabres.com for full coverage from Toronto.
By virtue of finishing 30th this season, the Buffalo Sabres have a 20 percent chance of winning the lottery and receiving the first overall pick, and can select no worse than number two.
The lottery has been discussed in great detail on sports radio and social media in Buffalo for months now, so Saturday night’s eagerly-awaited announcement could become one of the seminal moments in franchise history.
Murray will drive up to Toronto on Saturday, and will be present in Sportsnet’s downtown studios when the lottery announcement is made. Despite all the pomp and circumstance surrounding this year’s lottery, Murray is already looking forward to the next step in the draft process.
“I can’t wait until it’s over. I can’t wait until Sunday and Monday, and we know where we’re picking, and we just prepare.”
When Murray speaks of an 80-percent chance of picking second, he’s not exaggerating. The Draft Lottery process has been tweaked once again this year.
The changes include adjusting the odds of winning the first overall selection. The 10 highest-finishing non-Playoff qualifying teams will receive higher (better) Draft Lottery odds than they received previously. The four lowest-finishing teams will receive lower (worse) odds.
Here’s how it’ll go down.
Fourteen balls, numbered 1 to 14, will be placed in a lottery machine. The machine will then randomly select four balls. The resulting four-number series (without regard to selection order) will be matched against a chart that shows all possible combinations and the clubs to which each is assigned.
The chart of assigned combinations will be posted at NHL.com on Friday. The complete process, including the video of the lottery drawing, also will be available on Sabres.com and NHL.com after the lottery is conducted.
Based on team finish, here is each club’s percentage chance of winning the 2015 Draft Lottery:
1. Buffalo Sabres – 20.0%
2. Arizona Coyotes – 13.5%
3. Edmonton Oilers – 11.5%
4. Toronto Maple Leafs – 9.5%
5. Carolina Hurricanes – 8.5%
6. New Jersey Devils – 7.5%
7. Philadelphia Flyers – 6.5%
8. Columbus Blue Jackets – 6.0%
9. San Jose Sharks – 5.0%
10. Colorado Avalanche – 3.5%
11. Florida Panthers – 3.0%
12. Dallas Stars – 2.5%
13. Los Angeles Kings – 2.0%
14. Boston Bruins – 1.0%
Top prospects McDavid (NHL Central Scouting Service’s No. 1 ranked North American skater), Noah Hanifin (CSS’ No. 3 N.A. skater) and Dylan Strome (CSS’ No. 4 N.A. skater) are expected to be on-hand, as will Sabres.com for complete coverage of the lottery. -- Chris Ryndak