The New Jersey Devils didn’t enjoy a particularly successful regular season, but their offseason has gotten off on the right skate.
The Garden Staters will have the No. 1 pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft.
This positive turn of events occurred on Saturday night after General Manager Ray Shero‘s sextet won the league’s Draft Lottery.
“This is a great day for our franchise,” asserted Shero. “And to pick first overall, to have that for our Devils, fans, and organization, is great news.”
New Jersey beat out the Philadelphia Flyers, who captured the runner-up slot and the Dallas Stars who came in third.
How about the odds Shero’s club had to beat.
According to the NHL, the Devils had an 8.5 percent chance of coming out on top. Which means that New Jersey will be picking Number One for the first time.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 30, 2017
Ironically, the team with the best chance of winning was the Colorado Avalanche since they had the best odds. The Avs came out with the fourth slot.
Shero will make his picks on June 23 and 24 at Chicago’s United Center.
What are Ray’s most likely choices? Here are a few worked out by my man in Newark, Leo Scaglione, Jr.
1. Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
Weight: 198 pounds
Hometown: Winnipeg, Man.
2016-17 Stats: 20 G, 26 A in 33 games played
Despite injuries that limited him to 33 games, the Brandon Wheat Kings captain has remained the favorite because of his solid 200-foot game.
2. Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
Weight: 176 pounds
Hometown: Naters, Switzerland
2016-17 Stats: 38 G, 48 A in 57 games played
The Swiss-born Halifax Mooseheads star totaled 38-48-86 in 57 games. One scout reports: “Nico is quick and finds the holes. His hockey IQ is great.”
3. Gabe Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
Weight: 201 pounds
Hometown: Kingston, Ont.
2016-17 Stats: 29 G, 32 A in 49 games played
This Windsor Spitfire center has come on strong in the past few months. His size [6-2, 193 pounds] makes him attractive along with his speed and laser shot. Over 49 games this past season, his totals were 29-32-61.
4. Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Oshawa, Ont.
2016-17 Stats: 44 G, 31 A in 60 games played
A right wing with the Mississauga Steelheads. What makes him attractive to Shero is the fact that he has been a teammate of New Jersey’s 2016 selections, Mike McLeod and Nathan Bastian. Tippett’s speed and excellent shot garnered him 44 goals, 31 assists and 75 points in 60 games this past season.