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No surprises this year. Buffalo Sabres win top pick in 2021 NHL draft lottery

By Paul Patane, SportsEngine, 06/03/21, 2:30PM MDT

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While the Colorado Avalanche continue their playoff run, teams that didn't qualify for this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, plus the expansion Seattle Kraken, learned yesterday which order they'll pick in the NHL draft.

The Buffalo Sabres, with the worst league record this season, claimed the top spot in the 2021 NHL Draft yesterday. Photo courtesy of the NHL

The Buffalo Sabres, with the worst league record this season, claimed the top spot in the 2021 NHL Draft yesterday. Photo courtesy of the NHL

While the Colorado Avalanche continue their quest for a third Stanley Cup in franchise history, teams that didn’t qualify for this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs looked forward to yesterday’s NHL draft lottery and results.

Broadcast on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) from the NHL Network studio in Secaucus, New Jersey, the teams taking part in the draft lottery consisted of the clubs that didn’t make this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, plus the Seattle Kraken, the expansion franchise which joins the Western Conference this fall.

The Buffalo Sabres, with a league-worst 15-34-7 record this season, won rights to the No. 1 overall pick. The Kraken will make their selection second, followed by the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets will choose fifth.

The Sabres had a 16.6% chance of winning the draft lottery, according to NHL.com. The last time the team won the lottery, in 2018, they selected Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who has already completed three seasons with the Sabres, despite being just 21 years old.

Owen Power, who plays for Michigan, is a favorite to be taken by the Sabres with the top pick this summer. The 6-foot-5, 214-pound defenseman from Mississauga, Ontario, had a plus/minus rating of plus-20 this year and he made the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. He finished his collegiate season with 40 blocked shots, and offensively he tallied three goals and 13 assists.

The 2021 NHL Entry Draft will be held virtually July 23-24.

The draft order thus far is:

1. Buffalo Sabres

2. Seattle Kraken

3. Anaheim Ducks

4. New Jersey Devils

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

6. Detroit Red Wings

7. San Jose Sharks

8. Los Angeles Kings

9. Vancouver Canucks

10. Ottawa Senators

11. Chicago Blackhawks

12. Calgary Flames

13. Philadelphia Flyers

14. Dallas Stars

15. New York Rangers

Picks 16 through 31 will be determined by the results of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are only 31 choices in the first round this year, despite the addition of a new 32nd team, because the Arizona Coyotes lost rights to their first-round pick as punishment for violating the league’s combine testing policy during the 2019-20 season. 

The Avalanche made defenseman Justin Barron their first selection in the draft last year with the 25th overall pick. In late April, Barron signed to play in Loveland with the Colorado Eagles, the Avs’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. He played in two games in May before the season ended.

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