New Jersey Devils win first pick in 2017 draft
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.