The NHL Entry Draft can set a team up for success long term. A timely selection could help a team land the missing piece to help take their club to the next level.
While there are a ton of prospects to be chosen upon, not every player is a blue-chip star. For every Sidney Crosby, there is a player equal to him that never even touches NHL ice. The draft produces future NHL talent every season, but not everybody can find a spot in the lineup.
Wednesday night, the draft lottery took place. The winning team would have the honor of selecting first overall at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
The Buffalo Sabres finished with an NHL-worst 15-34-7 record this season and had the best lottery odds at 16.6% to pick first overall. Despite a lowly season, the Sabres won the Draft Lottery and will select first overall this summer. This will be the Sabres’ second first-overall selection since the 2018 draft, where they drafted Rasmus Dahlin.
The Seattle Kraken earned the rights to draft second overall. Seattle had the third-best odds (10.3%) to select first. The Kraken owned the same odds as the Vegas Golden Knights when they were first introduced into the NHL. Vegas would go on to draft 6th overall in the 2017 draft.
Rounding out the top 3 are the Anaheim Ducks. This will be the highest Anaheim has picked since 2005, where they drafted Bobby Ryan with the 2nd overall selection. Anaheim has never picked first overall and this will be the first time the franchise has had the third overall pick.
Defenseman Owen Power currently leads the 2021 Draft Prospect Rankings for North America. Power is a 6’6 defenseman out of Michigan in the NCAA. Power is a native of Mississauga, Canada, and tallied 16 points in 26 games with the Wolverines last season.
William Eklund of Sweden tops out the European skater rankings. Eklund is a left-winger that currently plays in the SHL – the highest level of professional hockey in Sweden. Eklund has also represented his home country on multiple occasions.
It is unknown if the Sabres are willing to deal their first overall selection for potential later picks or prospects/players. Buffalo has a wide variety of needs and are dealing with several current issues. Buffalo has not made the playoffs since 2011.
The NHL Draft is set to take place virtually over two days, with the first round taking place on July 23.
Betting odds for next season have not been released, but the Sabres are projected to be longshots once again. The Kraken will hit the ice for the 2021-2022 season and look towards both the Entry Draft and Expansion Draft to help build their team.
For now, the Sabres hold onto the top pick of the 2021 Draft. It will be interesting to see if Buffalo trades the pick, but for now they own the top selection for this year’s draft class.