Canadians win NHL lottery draft; Sabers holds picks 9, 16

Not only are the Montreal Canadiens hosting the NHL competition in July, they will have a chance to be the leaderboard after winning the draft lottery on Tuesday night.

The Canadians reserve the No. 1 pick, a bright spot after a turbulent season in which they changed coaches, overhauled their front desk, finished last in the overall standings, and most recently mourned the death of former star Jay Lafleur.

“I can only imagine the build-up of anticipation, excitement, and interest in the Montreal Canadiens,” General Manager Kent Hughes said of the city and fan base that primarily lives and breathes Bleu Blanc et Rouge throughout the year. “You hope as an organization you don’t pick first place overall too much, but when you’re in that position, it’s very special.”

The Sabers will have three first-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft after the lottery landed their own pick at No. 9.

Buffalo will also receive the 16th pick from the Vegas Golden Knights, acquired in the Jack Eichel trade – along with forwards Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs and a 2023 second-round pick – and the Florida Panthers’ first late-rounder in return from Sam Reinhart – who Came up with goalkeeper Devon Levy.

The final slot will be decided once the Panthers are eliminated from the playoffs or win the Stanley Cup Final.

The New Jersey Devils’ luck continued to run the lottery, winning the second of two lottery drawings to go from fifth to second place. It’s the fourth time the Devils have won the lottery since 2011, which included taking first place in both 2017 and 2019.

The Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said of a team that has missed the playoffs in 9 of its last 10 seasons. “So who this player might be, I have no idea right now, but we’re excited that we’ve won the lottery.”

The Devils’ victory overtook Arizona from second to third, Seattle to fourth and Philadelphia to fifth. The remaining slots 6-16 remain unchanged depending on where the teams finish in the standings.

The last 16 places in the draft standings will be determined by where the teams finish in the playoffs.

The draft of the year is the Ontario center for hockey, Shane Wright, who was ranked number one among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

Wright, who is from Burlington, Ontario, and plays for the Kingston Frontenacs, has a chance of becoming the first OHL drafted player since Edmonton picked Conor McDavid with the #1 pick in 2015. Wright averaged 1.49 points per game in finished With 32 goals and 62 assists in 63 regular season games this season.

Wright said he couldn’t watch the draft lottery because he was preparing for a playoff competition.

Slovakian Juraj Slavkovsky ranks first among international prospects. He scored seven goals to be named player of the year at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February and help Slovakia win a bronze – the country’s first ice hockey Olympic medal. The 6-foot-3 winger has a chance of becoming the top-rated Slovakia player after Marian Gaboric was named third by Minnesota in 2000.

The top US-born player is Logan Cooley of the US Development Program, and he ranks second among North American skaters. He is from the Pittsburgh area.

Montreal had the best odds of winning the first pick – though only 18.5% – and became the 10th team to finish last and retain the top pick since the NHL introduced the lottery in 1995.

Canadians have been waiting long to host the draft, scheduled for July 7 and 8. Montreal was originally scheduled to host the event in 2020, but the last two drafts were held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hughes said it was too early to say which player the Canadians might target. Hughes, a former agent, began working on January 19, replacing Mark Bergiveen. Hughes also retooled the front office, sacking coach Dominique Ducharme in February and replacing him with Martin St. Louis, who retains the temporary coaching mark.

The Canadians went from reaching the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, in which they lost five games to Tampa Bay, to being 22-49-11 – the lowest number of wins in a season over 60 games.

Montreal became the first team to host the draft and be picked No. 1 since Toronto in 1985, when the Maple Leafs picked Wendell Clark.

The draft lottery also made two picks out of the top 16.

Chicago’s sixth pick will go to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the trade in which Blackhawks acquired Seth Jones last summer. Blue Jackets will also pick 12th place.

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