The NHL Draft Lottery is undergoing another change. It's meant to draw out the suspense, but it could also end it early for the Buffalo Sabres.
Sportsnet announced Thursday that it will unveil Saturday night's lottery results throughout the course of the evening rather than all at once. Picks 15 through 4 will be revealed during "Hockey Central Saturday," which goes on the air at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN and CBC. The top three picks, conducted via the lottery, will be announced during the second intermission of the San Jose-Vegas playoff game that starts at 8 p.m. on NBC and CBC.
So the No. 1 pick won't be revealed until the 9:30 p.m. range.
By virtue of their last-place finish, the Sabres hold the best odds (18.5 percent) of landing the first overall pick. They could also drop to second, third or fourth if teams below them win the lotteries.
If three lower-seeded teams win, the Sabres will pick fourth and will know their fate before the Sharks and Golden Knights face off. If Buffalo makes the top three, it will have to wait through the opening two periods.
The odds of winning the top pick:
1. Buffalo Sabres 18.5 percent
2. Ottawa Senators* 13.5 percent
3. Arizona Coyotes 11.5 percent
4. Montreal Canadiens 9.5 percent
5. Detroit Red Wings 8.5 percent
6. Vancouver Canucks 7.5 percent
7. Chicago Blackhawks 6.5 percent
8. New York Rangers 6.0 percent
9. Edmonton Oilers 5.0 percent
10. New York Islanders 3.5 percent
11. Carolina Hurricanes 3.0 percent
12. New York Islanders (from Calgary) 2.5 percent
13. Dallas Stars 2.0 percent
14. St. Louis Blues^ 1.5 percent
15. Florida Panthers 1.0 percent
* Under the terms of a Nov. 5, 2017, trade: The Senators have the option to retain their pick and instead send the Avalanche their first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
^ Under the terms of a June 23, 2017, trade: If St. Louis’ pick is in the top 10, the Blues have the option to retain their pick and instead send the Flyers their first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Otherwise, Philadelphia will receive St. Louis’ first-round pick in 2018.