Despite a minuscule 8.5% chance of securing the number one selection, the Devils came out on top as New Jersey was awarded the top pick at the 2017 NHL Draft set for June 23-24 at United Center in Chicago.
A draft lottery that truly defied the odds, the Philadelphia Flyers will pick second overall followed by the Dallas Stars at No. 3. The Colorado Avalanche, with the best chances at securing the top pick at 18.0%, fell all the way back to fourth. The Vancouver Canucks are slated to pick fifth before the expansion Vegas Golden Knights prepare to make their first selection in franchise history at No. 6.
For the Devils, it was a welcomed sight as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly unveiled the surprise Saturday night in Toronto. Here’s how it all went down:
The Devils will pick first for the first time in team history. The franchise did have the No. 1 selection in 1979 as the Colorado Rockies, selecting Rob Ramage first overall before relocating to New Jersey in 1982.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 30, 2017
Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater, Nico Hischier from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are considered the top two picks in the upcoming draft.
Patrick (6-2, 198), who finished fifth in the WHL in scoring with 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 2015-16, battled a sports hernia which limited the Winnipeg native to just 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 games this season. He is the son of former NHL forward Steve Patrick. Dallas Stars’ assistant coach and longtime NHL defenseman James Patrick is his uncle.
Hischier (6-1, 176), the QMJHL Rookie of the Year who was also awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy as the best prospect in the league, hails from Naters, Switzerland. Hischier recorded 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points this past season. Many consider the European the top prize in this year’s class.
“They are both great players,” Shero told NHL.com. “Patrick went through injury this year but everybody knows he’s a heck of a player and he’s going to be very good. Hischier is a Swiss center with good size and talent. For us, these are two centers, two real good players. We’re going to get one heck of a player and, at this point, that’s what this franchise needs.
“We got lucky. It was nothing I did, but now we have to take advantage of it,” Shero said.
Eden Prairie’s Casey Mittelstadt, a high school center from Minnesota, Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor, OHL) and Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City, WHL) round out the top-five rated players among North American skaters.
— NHL (@NHL) April 30, 2017
Main Image: Devils’ General Manager Ray Shero greets NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on stage during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)