Devils draw top pick in NHL draft lottery, Avalanche draw No. 4 selection

TORONTO — The New Jersey Devils will have the No. 1 pick at this year’s NHL draft.

The team was announced Tuesday night as the winner of the draft lottery.

The Colorado Avalanche had the best odds of landing the first pick at 18.5 per cent, but they drew the No. 4 selection. The New York Rangers will pick second and the Chicago Blackhawks will select third at the June draft.

The 15 teams that failed to qualify for the 2019 playoffs — or the franchises that acquired the first-round picks of non-playoff clubs — participated in the lottery.

The Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers were the Canadian teams involved. Edmonton drew the No. 8 pick, Vancouver earned the 10th-overall selection and Montreal will pick 15th.

It’s the second time in three years that New Jersey will have the top draft pick. They also won the 2017 lottery, moving up four spots before picking centre Nico Hischier.

The Devils are likely to pick American forward Jack Hughes this time around.

“For me, my biggest things are my inner drive, my competitiveness,” Hughes said Tuesday before the lottery winner was announced. “I want to score, I want to score every shift and make a play happen. But I mean, obviously I’m a smaller, skilled, speed player. I translate really well.

“I like to say I play like Patrick Kane a little bit, but I feel I’m more of a Mat Barzal in how I carve through the neutral zone, lug the puck, and find my teammates. I feel that’s more my game.”

Colorado, which opens the post-season Thursday against the Calgary Flames, acquired its selection from the Ottawa Senators in the trade for Matt Duchene in November 2017.

Ottawa, which finished 31st in the overall standings, could have sent the team’s first pick at last June’s draft to Colorado, but decided instead to keep the selection before drafting winger Brady Tkachuk at No. 4.

The Los Angeles Kings also slid down the board, going from No. 2 to No. 5 while Chicago moved up from the 12th spot to No. 3.

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