The Buffalo Sabres won just 15 games this past season, but their biggest victory came Wednesday night thanks to some ping pong balls.
The NHL’s worst team in 2020-21 had a league-best 16.6% chance at landing the top pick in the 2021 NHL draft lottery and emerged with the No. 1 selection. The team will make the first pick for the fourth time in franchise history when the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft begins on July 23.
The Seattle Kraken will make their first ever NHL entry draft pick next month with the No. 2 overall selection. The NHL’s latest expansion franchise entered the lottery with the third-best odds (10.3%) at the No. 1 pick, the same odds the Vegas Golden Knights got in their first year back in 2017. General manager Ron Francis and Seattle’s front office will make some crucial picks before that, though, with the expansion draft on July 21.
After the Sabres and Kraken, the Anaheim Ducks will select third, the New Jersey Devils will select fourth and the Columbus Blue Jackets will select fifth. The order for the 16 teams that made the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be determined based on playoff results. The Arizona Coyotes forfeited their 2021 first-round pick as part of their punishment in 2020 for violating the NHL’s combine testing policy.
Michigan defenseman Owen Power is projected to be the first player off the board in the 2021 draft. Behind him, teammate Matthew Beniers, goalie Jesper Wallstedt, defenseman Brandt Clarke, defenseman Simon Edvinsson and defenseman Luke Hughes are among the top prospects in the draft class.
Here is how the first 15 picks shook out in the 2021 draft lottery:
1. Buffalo Sabres
2. Seattle Kraken
3. Anaheim Ducks
4. New Jersey Devils
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
6. Detroit Red Wings
8. Los Angeles Kings
9. Vancouver Canucks
10. Ottawa Senators
12. Calgary Flames
14. Dallas Stars
15. New York Rangers