The 2016 NHL Entry Draft order is going to be determined by a lottery, which for the first time ever will actually choose the first three draft positions. The lottery has not been too kind to the Sabres in the past, with Buffalo coming off worse both times of the top two lottery wins in NHL history. Don't say that to Jack Eichel though, who insisted the Sabres actually won with him!
In case you've forgotten, the Draft itself is going to be held in Buffalo at the First Niagara Center on June 24-25th, and wouldn't fans love to have the top pick for that event at home?
Here's what you need to know for how to watch the lottery -
WHERE: Hockey Central studios inside the CBC headquarters in Toronto.
WHEN: Saturday, April 30th, 8 pm EST, immediately before the Penguins-Capitals game
HOW: US - NBC; Canada - CBC, TVA Sport.
All fourteen teams that failed to make the playoffs are in the mix and can win the lottery. In an attempt to reduce 'tanking' for the first pick, the NHL phased in reduced odds for the worst teams in the League, as well as determining the top three picks by lottery this season.
Here are the odds for all fourteen teams -
There are going to be three draws during the event. The first drawing will determine the team picking first during the Draft, the second drawing will determine second, and the third for the third overall pick. After the first drawing, the odds for the remaining thirteen teams increase on a proportionate basis for the next two drawings. The 11 teams not selected in the lottery are then assigned NHL Draft positions in inverse order of regular-season points, from 4th to 14th.
The best case scenarios for Buffalo, where they land up in one of the top three spots, add up to about 19%. The worst case will be that the three top picks all go to teams that finished ahead of the Sabres in the standings, thereby pushing Buffalo to the 11th pick. The odds of that happening are 0.3%.
Click here to see the NHL Central Scouting final rankings, released a fortnight ago. Below is the latest top ten from analyst Damien Cox - there will be deeper insights into each of the top prospects as we get closer to the draft.
1. (1) Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (Swiss), 6-2, 190 lb.
2. (2) Patrik Laine, LW, Tampere (Finland), 6-3, 195 lb.
3. (3) Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (Finland), 6-3, 198 lb.
4. (4) Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL), 6-1, 188 lb.
5. (5) Alexander Nylander, LW, Mississauga (OHL), 6-0, 172 lb.
6. (6) Olli Juolevi, D, London Knights (OHL), 6-2, 180 lb.
7. (7) Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL), 6-2, 194 lb.
8. (10) Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW/C, Cape Breton (QMJHL), 6-3, 201 lb.
9. (8) Clayton Keller, C, USNTDP (USHL) 5-9, 170 lb.
10. (10) Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL), 6-3, 195 lb.
For the nerds who want to know about the exact mechanics of the lottery - (from Sportsnet)
Fourteen balls, numbered 1 to 14, are placed in a lottery machine. The machine randomly selects four balls. The resulting four-number series (without regard to selection order) are then matched against a chart (here's the one from 2015) that shows all possible combinations and the teams to which each is assigned.
One combination (11, 12, 13, 14) is designated as a "re-draw," allowing for the division of exactly 1,000 combinations proportionately. All number combinations are assigned to teams at random by Bortz & Company. The number-drawing process is supervised by accounting firm Ernst & Young.
Leading up to the lottery though, most NHL fans have been glued to the online NHL lottery simulator created by Buffalo native Rob Zaenglein - profiled here by Sportsnet. If you like crunching numbers, you're going to love running the simulator hundreds of times and see how often you can get Buffalo to show up in the top three!