The “race” to the bottom and the best draft lottery odds to select generational talent Connor Bedard looks like it could go to the wire.
The San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks have held the 32nd overall spot at times since March 26, and now the Blue Jackets are back there. The Anaheim Ducks’ losing streak hit 10 games Saturday but they gained a point in an overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes while the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks lost. Columbus is in last place by virtue of fewer regulation wins.
The draft lottery winner can move up only 10 spots this year, so the bottom 11 teams have a shot at Bedard. Here’s a look at the teams with the best odds:
Why is Connor Bedard a generational talent?
Bedard, who entered the Western Hockey League draft early as a 15-year-old, has put up big numbers while playing against older players. He has an elite-level shot and topped North American skaters in Central Scouting’s midseason rankings. The 17-year-old was named world junior championships MVP after getting 23 points in seven games for gold medalist Canada. The Regina (Saskatchewan) Pats’ 5-10, 185-pound center finished the regular season with a league-best 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games. He has 19 points in six games as the Pats and Saskatoon Blades are tied 3-3 in their playoff series.
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Who will get the first pick in NHL draft 2023?
Here are the NHL draft lottery odds as of April 8 for the 11 teams eligible to move up to the top pick:
Columbus Blue Jackets – 79 GP, 24-47-8, 56 pts., .354. Odds: 25.5%
Chicago Blackhawks – 79 GP, 25-48-6, 56 pts., .354. Odds: 13.5%
Anaheim Ducks – 79 GP, 23-45-11, 56 pts., .361. Odds: 11.5%
San Jose Sharks – 79 GP, 22-41-16, 60 pts., .380. Odds: 9.5%
Montreal Canadiens – 79 GP, 31-43-6, 68 pts., .425, Odds: 8.5%
Arizona Coyotes – 80 GP, 28-39-13, 69 pts., .431. Odds: 7.5%
Philadelphia Flyers – 79 GP, 29-37-13, 71 pts., .449. Odds: 6.5%
Washington Capitals – 79 GP, 34-36-9, 77 pts., .487. Odds: 6.0%
Vancouver Canucks – 79 GP, 36-36-7, 79 pts., .500. Odds: 5.0%
Detroit Red Wings – 79 GP, 35-34-10, 80 pts., .506. Odds: 3.5%
St. Louis Blues – 80 GP, 37-36-7, 81 pts., .506. Odds: 3.0%
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How does the NHL draft lottery work?
The draft lottery is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. ET on May 8 and will be shown on ESPN. There are two drawings, first for a chance at the top pick and then for a chance at the second pick. The last-place team would also get the top pick if a team ranked 12th to 16th in the standings wins the first drawing. University of Michigan forward Adam Fantilli, who’s 6-2, 195, could go No. 2 overall. Swedish forward Leo Carlsson, who’s 6-3, 198, is Central Scouting’s top-ranked international skater.
What happened the last time there was this much excitement about a draft prospect?
That was Connor McDavid’s draft year with the Erie Otters in 2015, when he had 120 points in 47 games. The Sabres finished last with 54 points and the Coyotes had 56, but the Oilers (62) won the draft lottery and chose McDavid. The Sabres drafted Jack Eichel and the Coyotes chose Dylan Strome, both of whom have since been traded.
Contributing: Associated Press