Things may finally be looking up for the Florida Panthers as the team won the NHL’s annual draft lottery on Tuesday night.
By winning Tuesday’s lottery, Florida erases the bad memory of missing out on last year’s 1st overall selection, even after finishing with the worst record in the NHL.
This was the third time in franchise history that the ping-pong balls bounced favorably and the Panthers won the annual lottery. In both 2002 and 2003, Florida traded its top pick for the third overall selection.
With just an 18.8% chance of winning, Florida jumped over Buffalo (25% chance), much like Colorado had done to the Panthers just a year ago.
This year will mark the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Panthers have had a top-three pick. Selecting Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson in the previous three. Given their history of trading the overall top pick, the Panthers haven’t actually picked first since taking current team captain Ed Jovanovski in 1994.
Void of a consensus number one pick in this year’s draft, the Panthers may once again look to move their pick as it seems quality players will be available throughout the majority of the first round.
However, if the team does decide to hold onto their pick, players such as D Aaron Ekblad, F Sam Reinhart and F Sam Bennett are thought to be this year’s top talent.
The 2014 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 27–28, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.