Odds are Sabres will do well in the lot­tery

Col­lapse has team in line for high draft pick

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - By Mike Harrington

The NHL play­off race en­tered the fi­nal week of the sea­son on Mon­day. Not in Buf­falo, of course, where the Sabres are out of the hunt for the sev­enth straight year and will miss the post­sea­son for the eighth sea­son in a row.

The Sabres are at the op­po­site end of the standings, where their col­lapse to the fin­ish line could have di­rect cor­re­la­tion to their suc­cess in the NHL

Draft Lot­tery.

There are three games left in the reg­u­lar sea­son, start­ing with to­day’s visit by Nashville to KeyBank

Cen­ter, and the Sabres have slipped all the way to 28th out of 31 teams in the NHL’s over­all standings.

They have 72 points, just two ahead of New Jer­sey af­ter the Devils’ 4-2 win Mon­day over the New York Rangers. Los An­ge­les (67 points) also could pass the Sabres while only last-place Ot­tawa (62) can’t catch Buf­falo.

The Sabres are 1-12-2 in their last 15 games and have not won in reg­u­la­tion in 18 games, since their Feb. 23 up­set of de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Wash­ing­ton.

The lot­tery will be held April 9 in Toronto and the re­sults will be re­vealed live on NBCSN. As in pre­vi­ous years, all 15 non-play­off clubs will qual­ify and there will be three draw­ings: The win­ner of the first draw will get the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft on June 21 in Van­cou­ver. The se­cond draw de­ter­mines No. 2 and the third draw de­ter­mines No. 3.

The odds are un­changed from last year, when the Sabres fin­ished in 31st place and won the lot­tery to earn the right to draft Ras­mus Dahlin. The team with the fewest points will have the best odds of win­ning the No. 1 pick at 18.5 per­cent.

The odds then move to 13.5 per­cent for the 30th-place team, 11.5 per­cent for 29th, 9.5 per­cent for 28th and 8.5 per­cent for 27th, which ap

pears to be the low­est odds the Sabres will have.

An added wrin­kle to the 2019 lot­tery is that Ot­tawa ap­pears likely to fin­ish 31st, but the Sen­a­tors traded their No. 1 pick for this year to Colorado for Matt Duch­ene. It leaves the Avalanche in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of po­ten­tially mak­ing the play­offs and hav­ing the best odds to get the No. 1 pick.

The lot­tery win­ner is ex­pected to take 5-foot-10 cen­ter Jack Hughes, an Orlando na­tive play­ing with the U.S. Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Team. Hughes has 23 goals and 86 points in 41 games this sea­son for the Un­der-18 club.

The No. 2 pick is likely to be 6-2 Finnish right winger Kaapo Kakko, who out­played Hughes and scored the gold medal-win­ning goal for Fin­land in the World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships. He’s play­ing for Li­iga in the Finnish pro league.

Lot­tery week fig­ures to be a huge one for Colorado, which has a great chance to get a Top-3 pick and could add the likely Hobey Baker Award win­ner to its lineup for the play­offs at some point.

The fa­vorite to win col­lege hockey’s Heis­man is UMass de­fense­man Cale Makar, who was taken No. 4 over­all in 2017. Makar will be lead­ing his team in the Frozen Four at KeyBank Cen­ter, iron­i­cally in an April 11 semi­fi­nal against the Univer­sity of Den­ver, and is ex­pected to earn the Hobey in an April 12 cer­e­mony in Har­bor­center. If his team loses its semi­fi­nal game, he could sign with Colorado that day.

Huge game for Preds

Mon­day was the Sabres’ fi­nal sched­uled off day of the sea­son and the game against the Preda­tors is their se­cond-to-last at home. It’s a huge one for the vis­i­tors, who are in the midst of a three-way bat­tle with Win­nipeg and surg­ing St. Louis for the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion ti­tle.

The Preda­tors have 94 points, two be­hind first-place Win­nipeg af­ter the Jets’ 4-3 over­time win Mon­day in Chicago. St. Louis pulled even with Nashville thanks to a 3-2 shootout win over Colorado on a game-de­cid­ing goal by for­mer Sabres cen­ter Ryan O’Reilly. Win­nipeg, Nashville and St. Louis all en­ter to­day hav­ing played 79 games.

Nashville for­ward Vik­tor Arvids­son en­ters to­day’s game with 33 goals and his next one will set the fran­chise sin­gle-sea­son record. The Preda­tors, who were born in 1998, have never had a 40-goal scorer. Arvids­son is tied for the fran­chise mark with Filip Fors­berg (2015-16) and Ja­son Arnott (2008-09).

Foes land in NHL Stars

The Sabres pro­vided big help to two-thirds of the NHL’s Stars of the Week an­nounced Mon­day.

The No. 1 Star was Colum­bus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who blanked Buf­falo here Sun­day night, and No. 2 was Detroit for­ward Tyler Ber­tuzzi, who scored the over­time win­ner in the Red Wings’ 5-4 vic­tory here on Thurs­day.

The No. 3 star was Ari­zona goalie Darcy Kuem­per.

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