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Florida wins ’14 NHL draft lottery, will pick first overall

Apr 15, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT

A year after losing out on the No. 1 pick, the Florida Panthers flipped the script.

Florida won the 2014 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, edging out Buffalo for top spot despite the Sabres holding superior odds for the first overall pick. Last year, the Panthers were on the other end of this scenario — they lost out on the first pick to Colorado, who jumped up from No. 2 and selected this year’s likely Calder Trophy winner, Nathan MacKinnon.

Travis Viola, the Panthers’ VP of Hockey Operations, was on hand for the decision. When put on the spot by TSN’s James Duthie as to who the club might select, Viola declined comment.

This will mark the second time in Panthers history that they’ve selected first overall. In 1994, the club took Ed Jovanovski with the No. 1 pick — Jovanovski, now 37, is the club’s current captain.

As for the remainder of the picks, here is the draft order and lottery result in full:

1st: Florida Panthers (moved up one spot)

2nd: Buffalo Sabres (moved down one spot)

3rd: Edmonton Oilers (retained)

4th: Calgary Flames (retained)

5th: New York Islanders (retained)

6th: Vancouver (retained)

7th: Carolina (retained)

8th: Toronto (retained)

9th: Winnipeg (retained)

10th: Anaheim (retained)

11th: Nashville (retained)

12th: Phoenix Coyotes (retained)

13th: Washington Capitals (retained)

New Jersey, who was part of the draft lottery, wasn’t eligible to get a top-14 pick due to punishment from the Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation. The Devils will draft 30th overall, the final pick of the opening round.

While there’s no consensus No.1 overall pick, draft pundits have identified a trio of players that’ll likely vie for the spot: OHL Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, WHL Kootenay forward Sam Reinhart and OHL Kingston forward Sam Bennett, who finished atop the final NHL Central Scouting rankings for the ’14 draft. Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle, Nick Ritchie, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jake Virtanen, Kasperi Kapanen and Haydn Fleury are considered other potential top-10 picks.

One thing to note: New York, awarded the fifth overall pick, must now make a decision to forward it to Buffalo as part of the Thomas Vanek trade, or retain it and send a 2015 first-rounder to the Sabres. Islanders head scout Trent Klatt, who was on hand at the lottery, said the team had yet to make up its mind as to which pick it’ll send.

  1. alicesrightfootesq - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    Welcome to south Florida, Aaron Ekblad!

    • smarshall3789 - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      Probably an oilers fan who is mad that they won’t pick 1st for the 10th straight year

  2. elvispocomo - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    Rigged!

    • letsgolightning - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      Save that for next year.

      • elvispocomo - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:20 PM

        I can use it any year if all I’m doing is saying it sarcastically. ;)

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      I’m guessing if it was rigged, the NHL would rig it next season so Florida gets the #1 pick, since the 2015 draft will be at BB&T Center…

    • trbowman - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      I’m a Buffalo fan, but why on Earth would the NHL want to help Florida? Buffalo is a superior hockey market.

      Anyway, as previously mentioned I’m a Buffalo fan. So losing is expected

      • pfhockey - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:08 AM

        Hey cheer up, if you guys draft well in the next two drafts you’ll be a good team again. Trust me.

      • elvispocomo - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM

        Not that that’s what I was going for – again it was just sarcasm – but Buffalo actually being an ok hockey market is the reason why they’d do it for Florida. New owners, struggling to find fans as much as wins, want to actually spend to be successful and they can use a boost any chance they’re given.

  3. lowenni - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Don’t sleep on them picking Bennett as a elite-skill winger to play with Barkov or Huberdeau. Ekblad would of course be a fantastic, immediate-gain addition for them as well.

    Dissapointed to see my Caps picking 13th, not worth them missing out on the playoffs for. Wonder if they bring in Willie Nylander back to where his dad played (I went to school with him).

    • elvispocomo - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      If they’d ended up in 3rd (some team below them and Buffalo winning the lottery) then I could have predicted they go after Dal Colle. At 1st though, I don’t know. Bennett’s a center, but would he project well as a wing?

  4. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    Nice to see the Leafs epic failure paid off in the draft. 8th ain’t too shabby.

  5. drewzducks - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    Their season is over but Buffalo is still losing.

  6. pitpenguinsrulez - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Next years draft with McDavid will be very interesting to see.

    • broadstreetsbaddest88 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:23 PM

      Yeah your glorious pens will miraculously tank it next year an win Mcdavid in the “lottery”

      • pitpenguinsrulez - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        “an”? Might want to check your grammar/spelling

      • broadstreetsbaddest88 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:20 PM

        Hahah damn what a burn. Might wanna check your spelling in your handle (rulez) before ya come at someone for using an instead and you idiot.

      • theageofquarrel - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:40 AM

        Your glorious Flyers should worry more about going almost 40 years without a Cup.

  7. bcisleman - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Klatt is misleading everyone. There’s no way they are giving up this pick They’ll play it close to the vest right to the deadline but they’ll retain this pick.

    • elvispocomo - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:25 PM

      Give Buffalo their pick next year and trade this year’s for some immediate help perhaps? I certainly don’t see them just letting Buffalo have it since they’d have to hope they’re in playoff contention next year.

      • greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:07 PM

        I’m not so sure New York wouldn’t give them this years pick. They need to figure out (which we all know) if they have any chance of being good next year (doubtful). Assuming they won’t do any better, is next years draft class strong or weaker than this one. If it’s stronger and there’s a chance they will be worse next year, then roll the dice and give Buffalo their pick this year and shoot for a top 2 pick next year.

      • elvispocomo - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        It’s possible they think they’re going to suck enough next year that they’ll have a lottery pick again (enough to be a reasonable chance at the first overall) in a stronger draft, but you have to figure they’ll look to make moves to be a playoff team. There’s only so many draft picks/prospects they can stockpile before they have to commit to winning.

  8. blomfeld - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    LUONGO, $39,000,000.00 (US) STILL OWING AND SUCH AS …

  9. titansbro - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    NYI would be stupid to send the 5th overall pick this year. They will pick a stud player & likely finish with a better record (worse pick) next year after getting Tavares back. It would be downright imbecilic to send this pick over next year’s pick.

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:09 PM

      Can the Islanders really be better next year? I don’t see that. Then they could get a top 2 or 3 pick next year in probably a deeper class… or just give that to buffalo.

  10. buffalo65 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    Hope the Isles keep it and buffalo can have 2 lotto picks in next years much better draft.

  11. broadstreetsbaddest88 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    Buffalo fans are gonna be up in arms crying about how they deserved the first. Get used to it cause usually the team that deserves it gets screwed. Flyers got screwed in 07 so I feel your pain. I think Florida deserves this pick though since they got screwed last year and haven’t had a first since Ed jovinavski even though they are usually the worst each year. Not that buffalo wasnt trying but the panthers were battling it out towards the end so they earned it. It works out for both sides though since Florida will probably want Ekblad an buffalo definitely want Reinhart so it’s a win win I think. Still pisses me of to no end that oilers get a 3rd pick, what a disgrace.

    • comeonnowguys - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      Philly was in the finals three years later. Cry me a river.

  12. wishingtonredslur - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    At least it wasn’t Edmonton. Y’all don’t deserve another #1, build a team already!

  13. 19inarow - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    Congratulations to all the Florida fans. You deserve this.

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      Thank you.

  14. penguins87and71 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Man the Sabres can’t win at anything!

  15. sjsharks66 - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    Florida Panthers? You mean the Seattle Panthers?

  16. killerpgh - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    Saying the Panthers haven’t had the 1st overall pick since Jovinavski isn’t completely true. The Panthers had the 1st overall in 2003 and traded it to Pittsburgh on draft day.

  17. buffalowned - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    I’m not gonna complain about picking 2nd, especially with a class like this with no consensus number 1. There’s a good chance Buffalo will get who it wants regardless…now just hoping the Islanders keep that pick and give us a better chance at McDavid and Eichel

  18. luz56 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:19 PM

    Consensus top 4 are excellent prospects..5-10 VG prospects… Crap shoot after that…

  19. canadiansportsfan77 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Between a new arena and the need to sell a new team to Brooklyn to go along with Buffalo having their 1st round pick in 2015, you can be sure the Isles will spend some money this offseason to ensure they don’t regret that 1st round pick in 2015.

    Its already obvious they do need to spend some actual money on a goaltender and a d-man and the team will improve greatly. Reinhart on the back end next year should help improve the d strength next year as well.

  20. muckleflugga - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    sjsharks66

    you don’t actually think anyone in the nhl is going to let a mid-winter florida vacation package head to the windy and wet pacific northwest

    why do you think phoenix and all californian teams have been tolerated through their grim years

    fun in the sun

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:36 AM

      Let alone a perineal last place team that generates top 5 ad revenue in the NHL.

      • madmax80 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        Ever go to a Panthers game? If so, you’d understand how they generate Top 5 Ad Revenue. They constantly blast commercials though the PA system at volumes so loud you cannot even talk to the guy next to you.

        “That’s another SAVEOLOGY by Luongo!!”

      • greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:46 PM

        I’ve been to plenty of Panthers games, and I hate to tell you this, that is a common occurrence at every single stadium, ballpark, or any other sports venue. I’ve been to many Wild games as well, same thing.

  21. djshnooks - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:41 AM

    Buffalo did deserve the first, they were dead last in the league.

    With that said, it doesn’t matter at all. There are 5 good prospects to be had in the top, and I would be happy with any one of them…they would be the Sabres highest drafted player in 3 decades and probably step in immediately as their best player.

    You won’t find many Sabres fans complaining…we have the #1 prospect pool in the NHL, 19 picks in the first two rounds over the next three drafts…quality players under contract to use as trade bait, both buyouts left…a really good coach and GM, both very hungry to make a name for themselves and get the Sabres contending.

    There is nothing to complain about, at all. I can’t wait until this is complete…watch out!

  22. pompy1963 - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    This is payback for last year not getting MacKinnon, though I really like Barkov. If this was 2015 Draft, Florida would have gotten the third pick.

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