NHL

Buffalo Sabres win 2021 NHL Draft Lottery, slated to pick first overall on July 23

The Buffalo Sabres have won the NHL Draft Lottery once again.

The Buffalo Sabres won the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery on Wednesday night, and as a result, own the No. 1 overall selection the league’s upcoming entry-draft.

Just 30 minutes before the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets were to set to play Game 1 of the North Division’s second-round series, all eyes shifted to the fate of 15 non-playoff teams from the condensed NHL calendar. The yearly occasion has seen its fair share of surprises over the course of the its history, but the 2021 edition of the event provided only one change — the league’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken, moved from the No. 3 spot to No. 2, surpassing the Anaheim Ducks’ position in the process.

2021 NHL Draft Lottery results

  1.  Buffalo Sabres
  2. Seattle Kraken
  3. Anaheim Ducks
  4. New Jersey Devils
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets
  6. Detroit Red Wings
  7. San Jose Sharks
  8. Los Angeles Kings
  9. Vancouver Canucks
  10. Ottawa Senators
  11. Chicago Blackhawks
  12. Calgary Flames
  13. Philadelphia Flyers
  14. Dallas Stars
  15. New York Rangers

Potential for chaos

The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery may have had a familiar look and feel to it, but don’t be deceived — the circumstances were different.

The league’s newest franchise made its debut on the NHL stage with the third-best odds to win the No. 1 overall pick. But along with the Kraken’s presence acting as a storyline in its own right, the Arizona Coyotes participated in the lottery process, despite owning a forfeited first-round selection.

And to make the 2021 edition of the lottery even more different, the most significant elephant in the room had to be addressed — not all of the game’s top prospects played hockey at all this past year due to COVID-19 restrictions in respective leagues around the world.

As a result, draft rankings are expected to be as different from team to team as they’ve ever been, due to the limitations in amateur scouting departments around the league. It’s never ideal to have bad luck at the lottery, but if there was ever a year to have it, it would be this one.

Arizona invited to party but still excluded

The NHL sanctioned the Coyotes, in coherence to the league’s combine-testing policy. As a result, the team will not have a first-round pick in 2021 draft. If Arizona did in fact win the lottery and earn the No. 1 pick, history would’ve been made — a redo of the entire lottery would’ve taken place.

Michigan-Power

After Wednesday’s result, the Sabres are set to select No. 1 in the NHL Draft for the second time in four years. In 2018, they selected Swedish-defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the coveted pick, and in 2021, they may go in a similar direction.

University of Michigan Wolverines defenseman Owen Power has remained at the top of most amateur scouting rankings, and could find himself playing in Western New York by October. But Power is not the only top-ranked prospect in 2021 to play at Michigan. Kent Johnson and Team USA World Junior-standout Matthew Beniers are expected to be taken in the top five.

The 2021 NHL Draft will take place on July 23, as opposed to its usual late-June start date. For the second time in as many years, the draft will not occur before July 1.

Now, back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.