NEW YORK — The New York Islanders get to choose between John Tavares and Victor Hedman.
They won the NHL’s draft lottery on Tuesday night and now control the No. 1 selection for the June 26 entry draft at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The Islanders finished 30th overall this season and had the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick.
That’s exactly what happened when the balls were drawn at NHL headquarters, giving the Isles the top selection for the first time since 2000.
“It put a huge smile on my face,” said Islanders GM Garth Snow in a conference call.
“It’s a great moment for this franchise, and a great moment for our fans.
“It’s going to be a great day in June.”
If GM Garth Snow decides to hang onto the pick, he’ll have to decide between Tavares and Hedman.
They’ve been the top-ranked prospects all season and stayed that way right through Tuesday’s final rankings from the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.
“We’re going to get a great player for this team,” said Snow.
“With Hedman, you have a 6-6 defenceman who skates like the wind. With John Tavares, you have a forward who can obviously put up huge numbers offensively.
“It’s two players who are exceptional talents, and that’s the one great aspect of being in the position we are right now. We know we’re going to get a fantastic player.”
Snow was asked if he has one player ranked at the top of his wish list.
“Yeah, I do, and I’m not going to share,” said Snow.
League rules stipulate that a team can move up no more than four positions in the lottery or drop more than one. However, there didn’t end up being any movement between the 14 non-playoff teams involved.
Following the Islanders to the podium will be Tampa (No. 2), Colorado (No. 3), Atlanta (No. 4) and Los Angeles (No. 5).
Toronto ended up with the seventh pick, Ottawa got the ninth selection and Edmonton received the 10th choice.
The 16 playoff teams will have their draft positions determined at the end of the post-season.