Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Race to the bottom comes out in Black Hawks favour

They didn't quite make it to the bottom of the NHL standings this year, but fifth worse proved good enough. The Chicago Black Hawks defied the odds on Tuesday, as their lottery ball bounced out of the machine giving them the first pick overall in this June's amateur draft.
It marks the first time that the Hawks will have received the first pick in the draft.

The Philadelphia Flyers who amassed the worst record in the NHL succeeded in gaining the second pick overall, while Phoenix, Los Angeles and Washington round out the top five of the bottom five.

The draft takes place June 22 and 23rd from Columbus, Ohio and will be broadcast on all the usual sports channels.

Blackhawks win NHL Draft Lottery
Patrick Kane
4/10/2007 2:40:44 PM

(CP/ - The Chicago Blackhawks lucked out in the NHL draft lottery Tuesday, jumping from fifth to first.

Chicago had only an 8.1 per cent chance of getting the first pick going into the lottery at the league's New York office to determine the order of the first 14 picks.

''It's a great opportunity for us to continue to turn things around,'' said Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon.

''This is a great break for our organization. It allows us to keep adding pieces to our puzzle.''
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It will be the first time the Blackhawks get the first pick in the modern-day format introduced in 1969, and they quickly identified their biggest need.

''I know we will definitely get something that we need - a goal-scorer,'' said chief amateur scout Michel Dumas. ''The top five or six players in this draft are very good players.

''It's very possible that the player we select will be able to step in and play next year.''
The Philadelphia Flyers have the No. 2 spot and the Phoenix Coyotes have the No. 3 position.
The Los Angeles Kings get the No. 4 pick, the Washington Capitals are No. 5 and the Edmonton Oilers are No. 6.

Rounding out the top 14, in order, are: Columbus, Boston, St. Louis, Florida, Carolina, Montreal, Toronto and Colorado

It hardly makes up for what happened in 2004, but perhaps the hockey gods were smiling on the Blackhawks.

In 2004, the year that Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were head and shoulders better than any other prospects, the Hawks initially had the No. 2 overall pick based on their 29th overall finish that season. But the Washington Capitals, who were in the No. 3 draft slot, won the lottery and moved to No. 1, pushing the Pittsburgh Penguins to No. 2 and the Hawks to No. 3.
Ovechkin, of course, went to Washington; Malkin to Pittsburgh and Chicago ended up with defenceman Cam Barker, a solid prospect but not a franchise player like Ovechkin or Malkin.

The Hawks will likely consider four prospects, all forwards, as the No. 1 pick: Pat Kane of the London Knights, Jakub Voracek of the Halifax Mooseheads, Kyle Turris of Burnaby in the B.C. Jr. A League and James vanRiemsdyk of the U.S. U-18 program. Kane would be considered the favorite at this point.

Kane's scoring stats fit the Blackhawks' needs. He's only five foot 10 and 160 pounds but he's a prolific scorer. The 18-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., led the OHL with 62 goals and 83 assists for 145 points in 58 games.

The entry draft will take place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, June 22-23.

The weighted lottery system to determine the draft order dictated that no club among those that missed the playoffs could move up more than four positions in the draft order. Thus, the only clubs with the opportunity to get the first overall selection were the five with the lowest regular-season points totals.

The club with the fewest regular-season points, Philadelphia, had the greatest chance, 25 per cent, of winning the draft lottery. Phoenix had an 18.8 per cent chance, Los Angeles 14.2, Washington 10.7 and Chicago 8.1.

Chicago's previous highest position for the draft was third. It has third pick last year and selected Jonathan Toews.

Phoenix gets a top-three pick for the first time since the franchise shifted to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996.

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