The "race" to the bottom and the best draft lottery odds to select generational talent Connor Bedard is over.
After the San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks had held the 32nd overall spot at times since March 26, the slumping Ducks clinched the best odds on Thursday when their season-ending streak hit 13 games. They're followed by the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Sharks and Montreal Canadiens.
The draft lottery winner can move up only 10 spots this year, so the bottom 11 teams have a shot at Bedard. Here's a look at the teams with the best odds:
Why is Connor Bedard a generational talent?
Bedard, who entered the Western Hockey League draft early as a 15-year-old, has put up big numbers while playing against older players. He has an elite-level shot and topped North American skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings. The 17-year-old was named world junior championships MVP after getting 23 points in seven games for gold medalist Canada. The Regina (Saskatchewan) Pats' 5-10, 185-pound center finished the regular season with a league-best 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games. He had 20 points in seven games as the Pats lost to the Saskatoon Blades in the first round of the WHL playoffs.
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Who will get the first pick in NHL draft 2023?
Here are the NHL draft lottery odds for the 11 teams eligible to move up to the top pick:
Anaheim Ducks – 82 GP, 23-47-12, 58 pts., .354. Odds: 25.5%*
Columbus Blue Jackets – 82 GP, 25-48-9, 59 pts., .360. Odds: 13.5%
Chicago Blackhawks – 82 GP, 26-49-7, 59 pts., .360. Odds: 11.5%
San Jose Sharks – 82 GP, 22-44-16, 60 pts., .366. Odds: 9.5%
Montreal Canadiens – 82 GP, 31-45-6, 68 pts., .415. Odds: 8.5%
Arizona Coyotes – 82 GP, 28-40-14, 70 pts., .426. Odds: 7.5%
Philadelphia Flyers – 82 GP, 31-38-13, 75 pts., .457. Odds: 6.5%
Washington Capitals – 82 GP, 35-37-10, 80 pts., .488. Odds: 6.0%
Detroit Red Wings – 82 GP, 35-37-10, 80 pts., .488. Odds: 5.0%
St. Louis Blues – 82 GP, 37-38-7, 81 pts., .494. Odds: 3.5%
Vancouver Canucks – 82 GP, 38-37-7, 83 pts., 506. Odds: 3.0%
*-18.5% outright, plus they'd retain the pick if a team in the 12 to 16 range wins the lottery.
Draft lottery odds for remaining non-playoff teams
Ottawa Senators – 2.5%.
Buffalo Sabres – 2.0%.
Pittsburgh Penguins – 1.5%.
Nashville Predators – 0.5%.
Calgary Flames – 0.5%
Note: Ottawa traded its first-round pick to the Coyotes. If the pick ends up in the top five, the Senators retain the pick and Arizona gets Ottawa's 2024 first-rounder.
How the bottom five teams got there
Anaheim – The Ducks brought in veterans this season to help the young core, but the team underperformed, got off to a 1-6-1 start and struggled defensively. They finished second to last in power play and penalty kill and had the worst goal differential. Coach Dallas Eakins was let go after the season.
Columbus – They signed top free agent Johnny Gaudreau, but injuries crushed their hopes. No. 1 defenseman Zach Werenski suffered a season-ending shoulder injury early in the season and Jakub Voracek also went out for the season. Patrik Laine missed time with injuries on four separate occasions and there were plenty of others. They moved out of last place on the second-to-last day when Gaudreau scored an overtime goal. Coach Brad Larsen was fired after the season.
Chicago – They were the definition of organizational tank. They dealt Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach in the offseason and didn't qualify Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik. They traded Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Jake McCabe and other others at the deadline. Captain Jonathan Toews missed two months with illness and the team said it wouldn't re-sign him this summer. They picked up three points in the final two games to move out of last.
San Jose – GM Mike Grier moved Brent Burns in the offseason, which allowed a healthy Erik Karlsson to have a special season. Grier was a seller at the deadline, trading Timo Meier and others. A three-game winning streak from March 28-April 1 moved them out of last place, though they finished with a six-game losing streak.
Montreal – They finished last overall in 2021-22, so this season was an improvement. But like Columbus, injuries crushed the Canadiens, including to Cole Caufield, Sean Monahan, No. 1 overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky and others.
How does the NHL draft lottery work?
The draft lottery is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. ET on May 8 and will be shown on ESPN. There are two drawings, first for a chance at the top pick and then for a chance at the second pick. University of Michigan center Adam Fantilli, who won the Hobey Baker Award, is ranked No. 2 overall among North American skaters. Swedish center Leo Carlsson, who's 6-3, 198, is Central Scouting's top-ranked international skater in the final rankings, followed by Kontinental Hockey League winger Matvei Michkov.
What happened the last time there was this much excitement about a draft prospect?
That was Connor McDavid's draft year with the Erie Otters in 2015, when he had 120 points in 47 games. The Sabres finished last with 54 points and the Coyotes had 56, but the Oilers (62) won the draft lottery and chose McDavid. The Sabres drafted Jack Eichel and the Coyotes chose Strome, both of whom have since been traded.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL draft lottery odds: Which team will could land Connor Bedard?