Sabres, Panthers have best odds for 2014 NHL draft lottery

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With their seasons now complete, non-playoff teams can start looking forward to one of the biggest dates on their offseason calendars — the annual draft lottery.

This year’s lottery will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, Apr. 15), determining the order of the first 13 picks of the ’14 Draft, which will be held in Philadelphia on June 27-28 at the Wells Fargo Center. The lottery will air on NBCSN, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

As for rules and specifics:

— All teams in the lottery are eligible to win the No. 1 overall pick, a practice the NHL implemented for the first time last season. Colorado “won” the ’13 draft lottery, capturing the first overall pick despite having the second-best odds (edging out Florida in the process). The Avs went on to select Calder Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 pick.

— Odds are determined by 2013-14 regular season point totals:

Buffalo Sabres – 25.0%
Florida Panthers – 18.8%
Edmonton Oilers – 14.2%
Calgary Flames – 10.7%
New York Islanders – 8.1%
Vancouver Canucks – 6.2%
Carolina Hurricanes – 4.7%
Toronto Maple Leafs – 3.6%
Winnipeg Jets – 2.7%
Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa) – 2.1%
New Jersey Devils – 1.5%
Nashville Predators – 1.1%
Phoenix Coyotes – 0.8%
Washington Capitals – 0.5%

— Thirteen of the 14 clubs that failed to make the playoffs are in this year’s lottery. New Jersey is out, due to the league’s reduced penalty for the Ilya Kovalchuk contract, and will select 30th overall. Here’s the fine print on the Devils situation…

To ensure that the odds of all 13 Clubs eligible to win the Draft Lottery are enhanced equally to reflect the Devils’ situation, the Draft Lottery this year is being modified as follows: the Devils will still be included in the Draft Lottery drawing on the same basis and with the same odds that would have normally been assigned to the Club based on and consistent with its regular-season finish. However, in the event the Devils win the Draft Lottery, an immediate re draw will be conducted to select a different recipient of the first overall selection in the First Round. The same process will be conducted as many times as necessary to ensure that the first overall selection is awarded to a team other than New Jersey. The Devils will be entitled to the 30th selection overall in the 2014 NHL Draft (the last pick in the First Round). The Devils are not permitted to trade or transfer their right to the 30th overall selection.

— The remaining first round spots will be decided by the results of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

B’s ink prospects Fitzgerald, Johansson to entry-level deals

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Boston has brought a pair of talented youngsters into the fold.

Forward Ryan Fitzgerald, who just wrapped his senior season at Boston College, and defenseman Emil Johansson — who spent this year playing in the Swedish Hockey League — have signed their entry-level deals and will begin playing with the club’s AHL affiliate in Providence.

Fitzgerald — who’s father, Tom, is the assistant GM in New Jersey — scored 31 points in 34 games for BC this year, serving as an alternate captain. He was originally taken by Boston in the fourth round (120th overall) of the ’13 draft.

Johansson, 20, was a seventh-round pick in ’14 that’s panned out pretty well. He scored a career-high seven goals and 17 points in 49 games for Djugardens this year, appearing in three playoff contests.

 

 

Ducks send Stoner to AHL on conditioning loan

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Clayton Stoner is going to play some hockey again.

The Anaheim Ducks announced today that the 32-year-old defenseman has been assigned to AHL San Diego on a long-term injury conditioning loan.

Stoner has not played since Nov. 15. He had abdominal surgery in December, at which point the Ducks said he’d miss an additional 4-6 weeks. But a setback in his recovery extended the time frame.

“The setback was kind of just me trying to get back maybe a little bit quicker than I should,” Stoner told the O.C. Register recently. “And I wasn’t ready. Things have been good here for a little while so hopefully I’m just trying to string some days together and earn a spot back and kind of prove that I can be healthy and stay healthy.”

Panthers didn’t want to trade Crouse, but Bolland contract was ‘strangling’ them

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Interesting note here from Florida head coach Tom Rowe who, last night, watched former Panther prospect Lawson Crouse play in Florida for the first time since being traded to Arizona.

Crouse was the price the Panthers had to pay to unload Dave Bolland‘s contract on the Coyotes last summer. Rowe wasn’t involved with the Bolland signing, but was involved in dumping the contract — he was Florida’s assistant GM at the time the deal went down.

His take, from the Miami Herald:

Florida traded Crouse to the Coyotes last summer as part of a salary cap dump; Arizona took on the final three years and $16.5-million of Dave Bolland’s contract in exchange for a top prospect — in this case, Crouse.

“We got criticized for giving up on a great young prospect but we had to,” Rowe said. “That contract was strangling us, cap-wise. …

“When we traded him, our scouts were furious. I’m not going to lie. But we had to do something and that was trade Lawson. I’m sure, to this day, he’s still sour about it.”

Crouse, who Florida took 11th overall at the 2015 draft, has five goals and 11 points through 64 games this year, averaging 11:50 TOI per night. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but they do need to be taken in context — Crouse is only 19 years old, and the 10th-youngest player to play in the NHL this season.

Bolland, meanwhile, hasn’t played since December of 2015, due to a variety of back and ankle injuries. His time in Florida was largely forgettable — after scoring the $27.5 million pact, he played just 78 games in a Panthers uniform, scoring 28 points.  It’s widely regarded as the worst deal GM Dale Tallon has made during his time with the organization.

Shortly after taking on his contract, Coyotes GM John Chayka said Bolland wouldn’t be healthy for the “foreseeable future.” The 30-year-old has two years remaining on his deal, at $5.5 million annually.

 

Arizona lawmaker suggests Coyotes pledge more money for new arena

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Arizona Senate President Steve Yarbrough does not expect a piece of legislation to pass that would give the Coyotes millions of dollars in public financing to build a new arena.

That being said, Yarbrough thinks the Coyotes may be able to gain some “traction” if they offer to put in more of their own money.

Under the current plan, the team has pledged $170 million of the arena’s total cost, which is estimated at almost $400 million. The difference would be made up by new sales taxes, plus $55 million from the still-to-be-determined host city.

“If you are getting no traction the way the bill is designed, you could see if the hockey team paid a greater portion,” Yarbrough told the Arizona Republic yesterday. “I have been around this business long enough to know that if it’s not working in this format, you change the format to make it more attractive.”

For their part, the Coyotes have not said whether they’d be willing to pay a greater portion of the project, only that they’ll continue to “work hard to find a viable arena solution in the greater Phoenix area, a market that both the club and the NHL believe is a strong hockey market capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise.”

Related: Bettman says Coyotes “cannot and will not remain in Glendale”