Florida wins ’14 NHL draft lottery, will pick first overall


A year after losing out on the No. 1 pick, the Florida Panthers flipped the script.

Florida won the 2014 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, edging out Buffalo for top spot despite the Sabres holding superior odds for the first overall pick. Last year, the Panthers were on the other end of this scenario — they lost out on the first pick to Colorado, who jumped up from No. 2 and selected this year’s likely Calder Trophy winner, Nathan MacKinnon.

Travis Viola, the Panthers’ VP of Hockey Operations, was on hand for the decision. When put on the spot by TSN’s James Duthie as to who the club might select, Viola declined comment.

This will mark the second time in Panthers history that they’ve selected first overall. In 1994, the club took Ed Jovanovski with the No. 1 pick — Jovanovski, now 37, is the club’s current captain.

As for the remainder of the picks, here is the draft order and lottery result in full:

1st: Florida Panthers (moved up one spot)

2nd: Buffalo Sabres (moved down one spot)

3rd: Edmonton Oilers (retained)

4th: Calgary Flames (retained)

5th: New York Islanders (retained)

6th: Vancouver (retained)

7th: Carolina (retained)

8th: Toronto (retained)

9th: Winnipeg (retained)

10th: Anaheim (retained)

11th: Nashville (retained)

12th: Phoenix Coyotes (retained)

13th: Washington Capitals (retained)

New Jersey, who was part of the draft lottery, wasn’t eligible to get a top-14 pick due to punishment from the Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation. The Devils will draft 30th overall, the final pick of the opening round.

While there’s no consensus No.1 overall pick, draft pundits have identified a trio of players that’ll likely vie for the spot: OHL Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, WHL Kootenay forward Sam Reinhart and OHL Kingston forward Sam Bennett, who finished atop the final NHL Central Scouting rankings for the ’14 draft. Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle, Nick Ritchie, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jake Virtanen, Kasperi Kapanen and Haydn Fleury are considered other potential top-10 picks.

One thing to note: New York, awarded the fifth overall pick, must now make a decision to forward it to Buffalo as part of the Thomas Vanek trade, or retain it and send a 2015 first-rounder to the Sabres. Islanders head scout Trent Klatt, who was on hand at the lottery, said the team had yet to make up its mind as to which pick it’ll send.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.