Last year it was the Connor McDavid sweepstakes while this year's NHL Draft Lottery has taken the nickname of the Auston Matthews sweepstakes and rightly so. The kid is good, real good.
While there will be 13 other teams to find out which pick they will have at the 2016 NHL Draft, tonight is all about the first-overall pick and Matthews.
The 18-year-old played in the Swiss League this season with Zurich; basically giving a middle finger to the traditional way North American born hockey players go about their business the season before they become draft eligible. He went over to Switzerland, developed while getting paid to do it, played against grown men and put up great numbers as just a teenager. The Scottsdale, Arizona native had 24 goals and 22 helpers in 36 regular season games with Zurich.
Which current NHLers does the 6-foot-2 center resemble? Just guys like Jamie Benn, Anze Kopitar and Connor McDavid according to his former coach at Zurich and 1996 Stanley Cup winning coach Marc Crawford.
Behind Matthews on the list of top prospects comes two 6-foot-3 Finns; left-wing Patrik Laine and right-wing Jesse Puljujarvi. Whichever team misses out on the Matthews' sweepstakes but grabs the second or third pick, they won't be so upset that they will punch a hole in the wall - they may kick the nearest object - but they won't be furious unless they're the Leafs.
Both Puljujarvi and Laine played in the Finnish Elite League this season and the two had 28 points and 33 points, respectively.
Time And Where To Watch
Time: 8:00 PM EDT, 4:00 PM PDT on CBC, TVA Sports, and NBC
The draft lottery will be broadcast ahead of Saturday night's playoff action, just prior to Game Two between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. It can be seen on NBC in the USA and on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.
The top three picks of the draft are up for grabs for the first time in Draft Lottery history, with the league's last-place team having the most entries (Toronto). With these changes, the team earning the fewest points during the regular season will no longer be guaranteed, at worst, the second overall pick. That club could fall as low as fourth overall.
Once the first three selections are awarded, the 11 clubs not selected in the Draft Lottery will be assigned NHL Draft selections 4 through 14, in inverse order of regular-season points
The Toronto Maple Leafs let everyone know they were tanking this season. It was a planned tank, a strategic tank to get not only the No. 1 pick but also lure free-agents into town with a good amount of cap-space. Tonight the first step of that plan either works out accordingly, or things will be set on fire in The Six.
There is a 68.5% chance that Matthews will be headed to a franchise north of the border. Here are odds for each team to land the No. 1 pick.
Who You Want To Win The Lottery
The Arizona Coyotes, of course. Matthews was born and raised a Coyotes fan in Arizona and why wouldn't you want a feel good story of an elite prospect from Scottsdale going to the Coyotes and giving that franchise exactly what they need in order to take the next step. Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson could rule the desert and the surrounding areas.
As for Canadian teams you should want to grab the top pick, why not Ottawa aka the most overlooked franchise in Canada. It would throw the biggest wrinkles in the history of wrinkles into the system and Toronto and Montreal may legitimately explode; but it would be great for Ottawa as a market at least.
Edmonton would just be a circus if they grab the pick for the fifth time in seven years.
Who You Don't Want To Win The Lottery
It's simple if you are a Nashville fan, just keep Matthews out of the Central Division. The Jets have the best odds of getting the top pick among teams in the Central with Colorado sitting 10th in odds to grab him. He would be scary in either place, but maybe even scarier in Colorado with their young forward talent.
When it comes to Canadian teams, it would funny if Toronto did not get it and hysterical if they were left out of the top-three. They put together a tank job like none other, and if they miss out on the top-three things would be put in slo-mo for the Leafs' immediate future.
Imagine Babcock if Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver or Edmonton grabs the top pick and he's just sitting in Buffalo at the Draft this summer with that intimidating stare as Matthews puts another Canadian team's jersey on his back; particularly if they're left out of the top-three.The odds they stay out of the top-three are extremely low, like lower than them winning a Cup next season.