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Sabres Notebook: NHL releases draft lottery odds

The odds of nabbing the overall No. 1 pick in this year's NHL draft went up slightly.

On Wednesday the league released the draft lottery odds for the 15 teams which do not qualify for the playoffs. The team with the worst record in the league has an 18.5 percent chance of winning the lottery for the right to the first pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, scheduled for June 22-23 in American Airlines Center in Dallas.

That's up from 18.0 percent last year, but down from the 20 percent chance in both 2015 and 2016 with 2015 the infamous year of the tank between Edmonton and Buffalo for the right to draft Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

The team with the second-worst record has a 13.5 percent change of winning the lottery with the third-worst team an 11.5 percent chance.

While not attempting to finish last in the league, the Sabres are on their way. Heading into Wednesday's slate of games, the Sabres were last in the NHL with 60 points (24-40-12) behind Arizona's 63 (26-39-11).

The draft lottery will be held Saturday, April 28, in Toronto, and will have three drawings to determine the teams which will make the first three selections in the NHL Draft.

The 12 clubs not selected in the 2018 NHL Draft Lottery will be assigned 2018 NHL Draft selections 4 through 15, in inverse order of regular-season points.

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Wednesday was the first practice for Casey Mittelstadt with the Buffalo Sabres and the 19-year-old had plenty of opportunity during the hour-long session in HarborCenter.

Mittelstadt centered a line with Sam Reinhart and Evan Rodriuges and took a spot on the point on the Sabres second power-play unit.

He will get plenty of ice time Thursday as the Sabres host the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m. in KeyBank Center. But head coach Phil Housley would like you to remember something about the 19-year-old.

"Let's remind ourselves that he hasn't played since March 3," Housley said. That was the day Minnesota was eliminated from the Big Ten playoffs by Penn State. "I know he's practiced a lot with his old team, but it never simulates a game. I like that he was getting used to the speed of our practice. Getting comfortable in the situation, just trying to get through the drills, learning our systems. There's a lot thrown at him today but I thought he made really good adjustments today during practice especially on the power play."

Mittelstadt was on a power play unit with Jason Pominville, Rodrigues, Nicholas Baptiste and Marco Scandella. The first unit included Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Kyle Okposo, Ryan O'Reilly and Rasmus Ristolainen.

Lines at practice were: Zemgus Girgensons-Eichel-Pominville;  Rodrigues-Mittelstadt-Reinhart;  Scott Wilson-O'Reilly-Okposo;  Jordan Nolan-Johan Larsson-Baptiste.

Defensive pairings were: Brendan Guhle-Ristolainen;  Scandella-Casey Nelson;  Nathan Beaulieu-Justin Falk.
Josh Gorges-Victor Antipin; Benoit Pouliot and Kyle Criscuolo were extra forwards.

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All three goaltenders were on the ice for practice, including Linus Ullmark who was hurt Monday in the team's morning skate in Toronto.

"Still day to day," Housley said of Ullmark's status. "It's good to see him out there today."

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