The New Jersey Devils just got lucky and have the opportunity to make up for their abysmal 2016 season with a little help from the NHL draft lottery Gods. The Devils, who did not make the 2016 playoffs and ended the regular season with a last place finish in the Metropolitan Division with only 28 regulation wins, will look to add to their up and coming talent with the number one overall pick in the 2017 draft.
According to NHL.com, It was the fifth time in the past six years that the team with the best odds at winning the lottery failed to get the top pick. The Colorado Avalanche had the best odds, with an 18.0 percent chance, but will pick No. 4. The Vancouver Canucks had the second-best odds (12.1 percent) but are No. 5.
Devils General Manager, Ray Shero, has not openly communicated who will be selected with the top spot on June 23rd at the United Center in Chicago, but some predict that center Nolan Patrick will go number one overall. According to a April 29th report on NHL.com, Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) had 46 points (20 goals, 46 assists) in 33 games this season. He missed 35 games because of an upper-body injury and missed Brandon’s four WHL playoff games because of a lower-body injury. He has 205 points (92 goals, 113 assists) in 163 WHL games.
According to an NHL.com report on Patrick from April 11th, Despite Patrick’s injury issues, he is the first WHL forward since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer in 2011 to be No. 1 on Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters, and the first WHL player since defenseman Seth Jones of Portland in 2013.
“He’s got a good understanding of the game, has been taught good fundamentals from a young age,” said Matt Ryan of NHL Central Scouting. “There are a lot of guys who don’t seem to have that understanding of the effort it takes to play at a high level with and without the puck. Nolan Patrick does.”
Last season, Patrick was fifth in the WHL with 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 72 regular-season games, and tied for the league postseason scoring lead with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 21 games and was named the most valuable player of the WHL playoffs.
The second highest rated prospect in the draft is center Nico Hischier of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Hischier won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the best professional prospect and the Michael Bergeron Trophy as offensive rookie of the year in the QMJHL after he racked up 86 points with 38 goals and 48 assists in his first season in North America.
The Philadelphia Flyers and the Dallas Stars, two other teams that did not make the 2016 playoffs, will pick second and third in the draft respectively. Below are the top 15 picks in the draft as they stand today.
1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. Arizona Coyotes
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Winnipeg Jets
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. New York Islanders