NHL Draft Lottery: How to watch, Sabres odds, top prospects and more

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NHL Executive Vice President Bill Daly, left, presides over the 2005 NHL draft lottery, in which Pittsburgh won the rights to draft Sidney Crosby. (Getty Images)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight and the Sabres once again have the highest odds at acquiring the first overall selection.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect tonight:

Where to watch: The show begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN and NHL Network. The picks typically aren’t revealed until later in the show.

How it works: Teams that didn’t make the playoffs enter the Draft Lottery. Teams with the worst records (like the Sabres and Ducks) get the best odds. There are now only two lotteries, which will award the first and second overall picks. (Picks 1-3 used to be up for grabs.)

Next year, two other rules come into play: Teams will only be able to move up a maximum of 10 spots, and teams cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year period (starting with 2022). But Sabres fans are hopeful they won’t have to worry about these rules in the future.

Tell me the odds already: OK, fine. Here are the official odds at getting the first overall pick:

1. Buffalo Sabres, 16.6%
2. Anaheim Ducks, 12.1%
3. Seattle Kraken, 10.3%
4. New Jersey Devils, 10.3%
5. Columbus Blue Jackets, 8.5%
6. Detroit Red Wings, 7.6%
7. San Jose Sharks, 6.7%
8. Los Angeles Kings, 5.8%
9. Vancouver Canucks, 5.4%
10. Ottawa Senators, 4.5%
11. Arizona Coyotes, 3.1%
12. Chicago Blackhawks, 2.7%
13. Calgary Flames, 2.2%
14. Philadelphia Flyers, 1.8%
15. Dallas Stars, 1.4%
16. New York Rangers, 1.0%

So the Sabres are totally winning the first overall pick? Well, no. They have the best odds out of any team, but the combined odds of any other team winning is much greater than the Sabres’ odds.

Here’s a helpful chart. The Sabres have a 67.4% chance of getting bumped down to third.

Wait, that says 17.1%. You said they had a 16.6% chance. Good eyes. The Arizona Coyotes got in some trouble for violating a scouting rule that doesn’t really sound that serious. But the league docked them picks, including this year’s first rounder. If Arizona wins either lottery tonight, there will be a redraw, which bumps up the odds a little bit.

So what are the Sabres’ actual odds? First overall: 17.1% chance. Second overall: 15.5% chance. Third overall (not winning either lottery): 67.4% chance.

Do the Sabres ever win this thing? They did once! They drafted Rasmus Dahlin first overall in 2018. They have also drafted second twice during their playoff drought (Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel). Fun fact: The Sabres have never drafted third overall.

Are there any good prospects this year? NHL Central Scouting recommends defenseman Owen Power from the University of Michigan — he’s No. 1 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters. William Eklund, a winger from Sweden, is No. 1 in their International rankings.

“Power is at the top of this draft class as he is the best at his position,” Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said, adding that it’s a deep draft class for defensemen. “His game presence displayed NHL skills and attributes and his game continued to mature and impact throughout the season. He’s an excellent package of NHL size (6-foot-6, 213 pounds), skating and smarts. His hockey sense is intuitive and instinctive, allowing him to utilize his size, speed and skill assets to get the job done in all situations.”

When’s the draft again? July 23-24.

Are there any lucky numbers I can root for tonight? Give me those lottery ball combinations! There are 1,001 possible combinations of lottery ball numbers, and the Sabres are assigned 166 of them. Here’s the list breaking down the numbers by team, and by ball number.

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