Newspaper article The Canadian Press

McDavid Is Generational Prize for Team That Wins NHL Draft Lottery

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

McDavid Is Generational Prize for Team That Wins NHL Draft Lottery

Article excerpt

McDavid is grand prize for lottery winner

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Connor McDavid won't have to wait until the NHL draft to learn of his future. By the time he goes on stage and puts on a sweater, it'll be a fait accompli where he's going.

McDavid's big night is Saturday, when ping-pong balls will determine the first pick and the franchise fortunate enough to get a player considered a generational talent in the vein of Sidney Crosby.

"I haven't really thought about it too much, but it'll be an interesting time," McDavid said in Erie, Pa., recently. "I'll be watching it, for sure."

McDavid will be in Toronto for the lottery, easily the biggest since 2005 when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the right to select Crosby. The last-place Buffalo Sabres have the highest chance at 20 per cent, but any of the 14 teams that missed the playoffs could get him, with the odds balanced more than ever before.

That allows general managers to dream big. Don Maloney of the Arizona Coyotes (13.5 per cent chance) said winning the lottery would be a "home run," while Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers wondered aloud: "Wouldn't that be sweet?"

As the Toronto Maple Leafs (9.5 per cent) go into a rebuild, president Brendan Shanahan after talking about his long-term plan acknowledged winning the lottery "would certainly speed things up." He went off script but couldn't help it.

"Sorry, I'm still smiling at that last one," Shanahan said. "Can I smile?"

One team's owners, executives, coaches, players and fans will be smiling when the NHL reveals the winner just after 8 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. So will Erie Otters owner Sherry Bassin, whose admiration for the 18-year-old McDavid knows no bounds.

"I'm glad he's so special, that everyone wants him that has a chance to get him," Bassin said. "I want the best for Connor McDavid.

"I want him to go to a team that he really wants to be there and loves to be there and they love to have him. I'd think it would be any team."

It is. Imagine the Edmonton Oilers (11.5 per cent) being able to have No. 97 McDavid follow No. 99 Wayne Gretzky in leading a potential dynasty? How about Toronto drafting the star from nearby Newmarket, Ont. …

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