New Jersey Devils win first pick in 2017 draft

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

TORONTO — The New Jersey Devils were the big win­ners of Satur­day’s Na­tional Hockey League lottery mov­ing up from No. 5 to earn the top se­lec­tion in June’s draft, much to the sur­prise of gen­eral man­ager Ray Shero.

The Devils, who fin­ished 27th over­all this sea­son with a 28-40-4 record, had an 8.5 per cent chance of win­ning the lottery.

“You know what your odds are, it hap­pens real quickly,” said Shero. “For me, it’s re­ally great for our franchise and our fans, es­pe­cially with what we’re try­ing to do. Com­ing into to­day, we have 11 draft picks. Now we’ve got the No. 1 over­all pick, which is a great build­ing block for our franchise mov­ing for­ward.”

It marks the third time in draft lottery his­tory that a team has moved from the fifth spot to No. 1 fol­low­ing the New York Is­landers (2000) and Chicago Black­hawks (2007).

The Devils franchise has se­lected first over­all once pre­vi­ously when the Colorado Rockies picked de­fence­man Rob Ra­m­age in 1979.

The Fly­ers were the big­gest movers at Satur­day’s lottery. Philadel­phia came in with just a 2.2 per cent shot at the top pick and wound up with the No. 2 over­all se­lec­tion. Dal­las rounded out the top three.

For a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year the Van­cou­ver Canucks dropped in the lottery. Last year, the Canucks fell from third to fifth and se­lected de­fence­man Olli Juolevi of the OHL’s Lon­don Knights.

This year, Van­cou­ver, the league’s 29th-placed team, en­tered the lottery with the sec­ond-best odds (12.1 per cent) at the first over­all pick be­hind only the Colorado Avalanche, but will once again se­lect fifth over­all.

Cen­tres Nolan Pa­trick of the WHL’s Bran­don Wheat Kings and Nico His­chier of the QMJHL’s Hal­i­fax Moose­heads were the top two rated play­ers among North Amer­i­can skaters for this year’s draft ac­cord­ing to NHL Cen­tral Scout­ing.

Both play­ers are ex­pected to be NHL-ready for the fall.

“I think they’re both great play­ers and cer­tainly dif­fer­ent,” Shero said. “One’s from Switzer­land (His­chier) and one’s from Canada.

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