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Devils win NHL Draft lottery move up to fourth; Edmonton gets top pick in 2011 draft

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Even when there’s no loophole to be found, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello finds a way to come out on top. The New Jersey Devils had a 3.6% chance of winning the NHL draft lottery and appeared destined to pick eighth overall. Instead, luck was on their side and they won the lottery meaning they get to move up four spots and will pick fourth overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft.

What that means for the rest of the field is that the top three stays the same and the Edmonton Oilers will pick first overall for the second year in a row. Colorado will pick second overall while Florida will now pick third. Because of the Devils jump up the ladder, the New York Islanders slipped from fourth to fifth while the Ottawa Senators fall back to sixth overall.

With the Devils rise, we’d have to guess that Lamoriello will not be giving up their first round pick this year. Thanks to their mishandling of Ilya Kovalchuk’s signing over the summer, at some point over the next four years the Devils must give up a first round pick. Fortunately for them it’s their option on when to do so. We’re thinking the Devils will be more than ecstatic to choose from one of the big five prospects available.

Ottawa’s tumble down to sixth is extra frustrating for Senators fans. When the Sens traded Brian Elliott to Colorado for Craig Anderson, the Sens were seemingly set to be neck-and-neck with Edmonton for the worst team in the league. Instead, Anderson’s inspired play rallied the Senators so that they finished with the fifth worst record rather than the worst or second worst mark. That rise in mediocrity cost the Sens anywhere from four to five spots in the draft. If the Sens strike out in the draft again this year, fans will have even more fodder for GM Bryan Murray.

As it is, here’s how the top half of the draft looks after the lottery.

  1. Edmonton
  2. Colorado
  3. Florida
  4. New Jersey
  5. New York Islanders
  6. Ottawa
  7. Atlanta
  8. Columbus
  9. Boston (via Toronto)
  10. Minnesota
  11. Colorado (via St. Louis)
  12. Carolina
  13. Calgary
  14. Dallas

As for who goes first overall, our inclination is to believe that Edmonton will make a beeline for Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson. With young forward talent like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, and Linus Omark all blossoming in Edmonton and their defense looking highly suspect, Larsson almost makes too much sense for the Oilers.

Colorado in second would surely make for a nice home for the draft’s top rated prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Avalanche will also have two picks in the top 11 thanks to receiving a conditional first from St. Louis in the Erik Johnson trade.

That would leave talented forwards Sean Couturier, Gabriel Landeskog , and Jonathan Huberdeau left to round out the top five. Other names that could jump up into discussion as the draft draws near are forwards Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad as well as defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Nathan Beaulieu, Ryan Murphy, and Duncan Siemens.

The NHL Draft will happen June 24 and 25 from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Now that we know who’s picking where atop the draft (the rest of the positions will be determined by who loses when in the playoffs), let the mock drafts and speculation begin in earnest.

Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

(Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

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Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.