GM McPhee weighs hopes of Vegas hitting NHL lotto prize

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Steve Marcus Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee responds to a concern during a press conference at T-Mobile Arena Thursday April 13, 2017.

Saturday, April 29, 2017|2 a.m.

. As prizes go in Las Vegas, George McPhee wouldn’t mind little kismet being on the side of his Golden Knights expansion franchise when the NHL holds its draft lottery game on Saturday.

“That would be so like Vegas in its first lottery game, winning it,” the Golden Knights general manager informed The Associated Press by phone. “That would be something.”

The chances, aren’t that bad for a franchise preparing to open its very first season in October.

The Golden Knights and desert competing Arizona Coyotes have each been awarded a 10.3 percent possibility of winning the lotto, providing the third-best chance at landing the No. 1 choice in the draft in June. The Colorado Avalanche, with an 18 percent opportunity, have the very best odds after finishing with the league’s worst record this season, followed by the Vancouver Canucks (12.1 percent opportunity).

At worst, the Golden Knights will choose no lower than No. 6.

“We’ll enter there having our fingers crossed,” stated McPhee, who will attend the lottery drawing in Toronto. “This will be another first for us.”

McPhee can likewise attest to knowing how teams with the very best odds don’t constantly win.

He was the Capitals general manager in 2004, when Washington won the lottery by vaulting from 3rd to first to declare the right to draft Alex Ovechkin. The Edmonton Oilers bucked the odds in 2015, when they also went up from 3rd to very first and selected once-in-a-generation talent in Connor McDavid.

Though there have actually been numerous formats considering that the NHL introduced the lottery game in 1995, groups with the very best odds have won it simply seven of 21 times. That consisted of last year, when the Toronto Maple Leafs maintained the top choice to end a five-year run of last-place teams losing the lottery. They drafted rookie-of-the-year finalist Auston Matthews.

McPhee understands how a No. 1 choice has the best capacity to spur a franchise’s growth– especially a newcomer such as Vegas.

“Ovechkin’s done that for Washington, and McDavid and Matthews and Eichel,” he said, in recommendation to Sabres forward Jack Eichel, the No. 2 choice in the 2015 draft. “And they can truly turn a town that isn’t already a hockey town into a hockey town.”

This year’s class of draft prospects lacks the buzz McDavid, Eichel, Matthews and Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine produced the previous two years.

NHL Main Searching ranks Nolan Patrick as its leading possibility despite the fact that the forward for the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings missed 35 regular-season and 4 championship game due to injuries this year. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Patrick completed with 20 objectives and 46 points in 33 video games. Swiss-born forward Nico Hischier is ranked 2nd after making Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookie-of-the-year honors betting Halifax.

TELEVISION analyst and former Flames basic supervisor Craig Button assessed Nolan by saying: “I don’t see a gamer entering into this draft that is much better than Nolan Patrick.” Button challenged the notion of this year’s class as being weak by saying the comparisons are skewed by the exceptional talent included in the 2 previous years.

“If you’re going to compare it to the last top-two choices, well, all the best. You’ve got no opportunity,” Button stated. “However I see lots of good gamers in this draft.”

McPhee declined to share his impressions of Nolan by stating it would be unfair to do so at the cost of other prospects. And he hedged his bets when assessing this year’s crop of prospects.

“There are good players in every draft and you have to find them,” McPhee said. “If it’s an excellent draft, everybody seems to discover a gamer. If it’s not, it’s the very best drafting groups that develop players and produce separation between companies.”

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