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The 2011 NHL Draft Lottery airs at 8 pm ET on Versus; Who should fans covet?

For fans of 16 NHL franchises, the future begins on Wednesday or Thursday. Yet for 14 other teams, it’s already about October 2011.

The latter group will want to follow the action tonight, as Versus and NHL.com will carry the 2011 NHL Entry Draft Lottery at 8 pm ET.

The Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators are the only teams with a chance to earn the top pick of the 2011 draft. After that, no team can move down more than one spot from their season-ending position. For a deeper rundown of how exactly the draft lottery works, click here.

Of course, beyond who gets the top pick, the bigger question might be: who should fans want? As Joe pointed out, there isn’t a clean-cut No. 1 in this year’s draft. Some even call it one of the weakest in recent years.

That being said, there are some prospects who are gaining some attention. The league’s Central Scouting Service released their final rankings (with heavy hearts on the heels of EJ McGuire’s passing) recently, with North American and European players ranked separately.

First, here are the top five North American skaters according to Central Scouting:

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (forward)
2. Gabriel Landeskog (forward)
3. Jonathan Huberdeau (forward)
4. Dougie Hamilton (defenseman)
5. Nathan Beaulieu (defenseman)

Next, here are the top five European skaters:

1. Adam Larsson (defenseman)
2. Mika Zibanejad (forward)
3. Jonas Brodin (defenseman)
4. Joel Armia (forward)
5. Dmitri Jaskin (forward)

There’s also the highest ranked North American and European goalies, if you want to delve deeper.

We’ll keep you informed regarding where each NHL team lands in the top 16 picks of the draft. The playoffs will decide where the rest of the chips shall fall.

Fight video: Zack Kassian racks up penalty minutes, faces Brian Strait

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Pulling Anders Nilsson didn’t stop the bleeding for the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, it really just spread the “wealth.”

The New York Islanders are up 7-1, so don’t be surprised if there’s some ugly stuff in the final frame.

Zack Kassian is an author of at least one outburst, as he was tagged with 19 penalty minutes for a display that included fighting Brian Strait, as you can see in the video above.

It’s not the only fight stemming from the blowout, either, as Eric Gryba just tangled with Matt Martin.

Could there be more?

Isles chase Nilsson from Oilers’ net in less than 12 minutes

Edmonton Oilers goalie Anders Nilsson, of Sweden, makes pad save against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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There was a time when Anders Nilsson seemed like the best bet in the Oilers’ net this season. This … is not that time.

Less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s game, the New York Islanders roared to a 3-0 lead, and that was enough for Edmonton to give Nilsson the hook.

He allowed those three goals on 10 shots, so to be fair, that’s a pretty impressive chunk of chances (almost a shot on goal per minute).

Still, the Oilers were likely hoping to give Cam Talbot a breather, and instead he was rushed into action. Nilsson hadn’t played since Jan. 19, and he’s only appeared in three games in 2016.

As if this didn’t sting enough for Nilsson, consider the fact that he began his NHL career with the Islanders, who eventually decided he wasn’t worth keeping.

Ovi scores 30th as Caps beat Flyers for third straight victory

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Alex Ovechkin scored to join Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as only players with at least 30 goals in each of their first 11 NHL seasons, and Matt Niskanen netted the game winner as Washington beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon on Super Bowl Sunday.

Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz replied for the Flyers, who suffered their second straight loss.

The win was the Capitals’ third in a row.

It didn’t always look as though Washington would emerge the victor, however. The Caps were out-shot 35-30 on the day and looked disjointed at times, finishing with 12 giveaways (Philly was credited with just five, for comparison’s sake).

But good teams find ways to win when they’re not playing especially well, and the Caps are a pretty good team — especially when Braden Holtby is on his game.

Holtby, atop many Vezina lists at the moment, had another terrific outing on Sunday, making 33 saves, perhaps none better than this one on Mark Streit in the second period:

Holtby’s counterpart, Steve Mason, had a solid outing as well, finishing with 27 stops.

Looking ahead, the Caps will now head out on a three-game Western Conference swing through Minnesota, Nashville and what promises to be a high-octane game in Dallas on Feb. 13.

The Flyers, meanwhile, will now kick off a three-game homestand against Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey.

 

Jets’ Stafford to have disciplinary hearing after high-sticking Holden

Colorado Avalanche's Nick Holden (2) hits Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault (85) during first period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford will meet with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden on Saturday night, the DoPS announced this afternoon.

There was no immediate video of the incident available. Stafford wasn’t penalized on the play, which occurred during the third period; Holden finished the final frame with 10 shifts for 6:46 of ice time.

Stafford, 30, has a clean disciplinary history and hasn’t been fined or suspended during his 10-year NHL career.