New York, NY – New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers will have the top overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, after winning the league's lottery which was held on Tuesday.
The Buffalo Sabres entered the evening with the best odds to take the No. 1 pick, with a 25 percent chance of retaining their spot after recording the worst record in the NHL for the first time in franchise history.
However, it was the Panthers, who last won the lottery in 2003 in the second of back-to-back years, chosen to move up to first overall. Florida sported the worst record in the league last year, but ended up picking second after the Colorado Avalanche were awarded the No. 1 selection.
If the franchise elects to keep its lofty perch, that will mark the first time it will use the top-overall slot to select a player since taking defenseman Ed Jovanovski in 1994. In 2002, Florida dealt the pick to the Blue Jackets, who took forward Rick Nash, and one year later, the slot was swapped to the Penguins, who used it to snag goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Buffalo has been slotted in the top five seven different times in franchise history, but never with the second-overall pick.
Florida (18.8 percent) and Edmonton (14.2), the second-and-third-worst clubs by record, had the next-best odds to snag the first slot. The Oilers won the lottery in 2010 and 2012 and remained in the third spot.
In descending order, the remaining picks will be made by: Calgary, the New York Islanders, Vancouver, Carolina, Toronto, Winnipeg, Anaheim (from Ottawa), Nashville, Phoenix and Washington.
The Islanders have the option to keep that first-round pick or transfer it to the Sabres as part of the early-season deal involving forward Thomas Vanek.
The New Jersey Devils, who also missed out on the postseason, were not included in the lottery and will pick 30th no matter what due to the fallout from the Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation.
This year's NHL Entry Draft is scheduled for June 27-28 in Philadelphia, which will play host for the first time.