(Reuters) - The Edmonton Oilers won the National Hockey League’s draft lottery on Saturday, giving them the opportunity to select 18-year-old phenomenon Connor McDavid with the first overall pick in June’s draft.
The Oilers had a 11.5 percent chance, the third best odds among the 14 non-playoff teams in the draw, at winning the weighted lottery after finishing with the third worst record in the 2014-15 regular season.
McDavid, a Canadian center with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, has been on the scouting radar for a couple of years now and regularly draws comparisons to Sidney Crosby, the twice NHL MVP who was the subject of major hype in his 2005 draft year.
McDavid is the consensus top pick after finishing third in OHL scoring this year with 44 goals and 120 points, despite missing 21 of the scheduled 68 games. He also led Canada to a World Junior Hockey Championship in January.
Edmonton general manager Craig MacTavish, though, would not say outright that he would take McDavid with the pick, but was unequivocal on the chances he might trade it.
“Zero,” he said on a conference call.
“Any team would have been over the moon about winning the lottery. We’re the same. It’s a game changer.”
This will be the fourth time in six years the Oilers have picked first overall. The team had the top selections in 2010-2012, but has continued to struggle despite a the high-potential talent.
“If it happens to be me that’s selected there, it would be a tremendous honour to step in with a group of talent like that,” said McDavid.
The last-placed Buffalo Sabres ended up with the second pick in the draft and are expected to take the consensus No. 2 pick, U.S.-born Boston University center Jack Eichel.
The NHL changed its draft lottery rules this year, spreading the chances of winning the top pick more evenly among non-playoff teams in order to reduce the incentive to “tank”, or deliberately ice a losing team in the hopes of getting the top pick.
The draft will be held on June 26 and 27 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, which is home to the Florida Panthers.
Reporting by Cameron French in Toronto, editing by Patrick Johnston