Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Maple Leafs Win NHL Draft Lottery, Will Pick No. 1 for First Time in 31 Years

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Maple Leafs Win NHL Draft Lottery, Will Pick No. 1 for First Time in 31 Years

Article excerpt

Toronto Maple Leafs win NHL draft lottery


TORONTO - Six. Eight. Five. Thirteen.

It was that sequence of four numbers, the 162nd of 200 randomly assigned combinations, that won the Toronto Maple Leafs the draft lottery on Saturday night. Toronto, which finished 30th overall this season, had the best odds (20 per cent) of winning the lottery and will pick No. 1 overall for the first time in 31 years.

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan declined to say who the club was prepared to select with that pick, though he said the team had a pretty good idea already. American centre Auston Matthews is widely seen as the top available prospect.

"I'll just say that our scouts were very pleased with tonight's results," Shanahan said shortly after the lottery's conclusion.

Matthews, if the Leafs opt to choose him, would be a significant addition to an already blossoming pool of young talent in Toronto, which includes William Nylander, Mitchell Marner and Morgan Rielly, among others.

Matthews, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native, played this past season in Switzerland and scored 22 goals and 46 points in 36 games. The 18-year-old is also set to represent the United States at the upcoming world championship.

He would presumably fill Toronto's long-term No. 1 centre spot, plugged by less than ideal options following the departure of long-time team captain Mats Sundin.

Shanahan described Matthews as someone used to a leading role, a centre with good size (six-foot-two, 194 pounds) who can score from the perimeter and from around the net.

"He's definitely somebody that has earned the right to be where he is today," Shanahan said.

Still, Toronto's president made it known that whomever the club chooses at No. 1 will be just one player among many.

"I wouldn't put too much pressure on any one player," he said. "The more players you can get of a high calibre, obviously that's a good thing. But we also recognize that at this stage whoever's coming in here is going to be a young person, a rookie, and not going to have the weight of the world thrust on their shoulders. …

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