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Senators hoping to hit jackpot at draft lottery

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
NHL vice-president Bill Daly held up the Edmonton Oilers logo as the winner of the 2010 NHL draft lottery. Will it be the Ottawa Senators' turn tonight, when the 2011 lottery is held? The Sens have an 8.1 per cent chance of grabbing the top pick (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images).

No matter what happens tonight, the Ottawa Senators are convinced they'll hit a home run at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

But depending on how events play out in tonight's NHL draft lottery, the Senators could be in the most enviable position of them all.

This evening's proceedings, which will be televised by TSN at 8 p.m., will determine the order of selection for the top five picks in the 2011 draft, to be held June 24-25 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The Edmonton Oilers, who finished last overall, have the best chance of coming out on top in the weighted lottery, with odds of 48.2 per cent, followed by the Colorado Avalanche (18.8), Florida Panthers (14.2) and New York Islanders (10.7).

The 30th place finisher, it should be noted, topped the last three draft lotteries.

With teams only allowed to move up four spots in the draft, only the bottom five teams in the final National Hockey League standings have a shot at the No. 1 overall pick. The Senators, who wound up 26th overall, have an 8.1 per cent chance of winning the lottery. But it's not impossible — in 2007, the Chicago Blackhawks won the lottery from the same position and used the No. 1 overall pick to select Patrick Kane, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for them last season.

If a team below the Senators wins the lottery — it's happened twice before, in 1995 (Los Angeles) and 1999 (Chicago) — then they'd drop to the No. 6 spot in the first round. If any team above them wins the lottery, Ottawa retains its No. 5 position in the first round. Teams can't drop any more than one slot based on lottery results.

In a draft in which there is no clear top pick, the Senators are convinced they'll wind up with a big-time prospect no matter where they wind up in the first round.

"I think there are four or five (top prospects)," said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "If we stay where we are right now, we feel fairly confident we'll get a good player and he'll have a chance to play next year (in the NHL)."

According to final NHL Central Scouting rankings released Monday, Red Deer Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rates first among North American skaters, followed by Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers, centre Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs, blueliner Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs and Saint John defenceman Nathan Beaulieu.

Skelleftea (Sweden) blueliner Adam Larsson remains the top-ranked European skater.

Showing the volatility of this season's rankings, Landeskog was the top-rated North American in Central Scouting's mid-season ratings, while Drummondville Volitgeurs forward Sean Couturier — billed by some earlier this season as a potential No. 1 overall pick — dropped from second to sixth in the final rankings.

International Scouting Services, an independent outfit, also has Nugent-Hopkins on top of its most recent overall ratings, followed by Larsson, Landeskog, Couturier and Kitchener blueliner Ryan Murphy.

Follow B-Sens playoffs on radio, web

The Binghamton Senators announced today that all games in their opening-round Calder Cup playoff series against the Manchester Monarchs will be available to fans in Ottawa via the Team 1200. Coverage starts 30 minutes prior to puck drop with the pre-game show Countdown to Face-Off.

Online streaming of the games can be accessed at www.team1200.com.

Fans can also view webcasts of the games on a pay-per-view basis at www.ahllive.com. Visit the website for all the pricing details. Two-round packages are available, as well as single games.


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