Connor Bedard, the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft, likely will know his professional destination when the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery is held May 8 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS).
The Anaheim Ducks, who finished last in the NHL standings (23-47-12), will have the best odds of winning the No. 1 pick at 18.5 percent.
The Columbus Blue Jackets (25-48-9), who were 31st in the standings, will have the second-best odds at 13.5 percent, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks (26-49-7) at 11.5 percent.
The 16 teams who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be part of the draft lottery. The Arizona Coyotes will have two picks, their own as well as the Ottawa Senators' selection, which was acquired as part of the trade for defenseman Jakob Chychrun on March 1. However, if the Senators pick is in the top five, it would stay with Ottawa and Arizona instead would receive the Senators' unprotected first-round selection in the 2024 NHL Draft.
Teams can move up 10 spots in the lottery, so only the bottom 11 teams in the standings have a shot at the No. 1 pick.
A second drawing will be held with the 15 remaining teams to determine the No. 2 pick.
After the two drawings, the remaining teams will be assigned Nos. 3-16 based on inverse order of the final standings.
The 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on June 28-29.
Bedard (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) led the Western Hockey League with 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists) in 57 games with Regina. He also had 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists), including six multipoint games, in Regina's seven-game loss to Saskatoon in the first round of the WHL playoffs. He was the first WHL player since 2012 to score at least 10 goals in a playoff series.
He also helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship in January with a tournament-best 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in seven games. It's the most points ever for a Canada player and the fourth-most by any player in WJC history.
"Bedard has the elite skills and attributes that the elite NHL players have, and it's the precision in which he reads the play, is always in the right place and how he executes and capitalizes on plays," NHL Central Scouting vice president Dan Marr said. "What places him in that Connor McDavid-special category is his natural presence of mind and instincts that allow him to channel all these attributes to dominate when the opportunity is there and when it's needed most by his team."
The teams who don't get the first pick still will have plenty of talent to choose from, including University of Michigan center Adam Fantilli, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the best NCAA men's hockey player this season. The 18-year-old led NCAA players with 65 points (30 goals, 35 assists) in 36 games and helped Michigan reach the Frozen Four.
"He's just such a competitive kid on and off the ice, wants to win every race and battle in the game, and every small-area game in practice," Michigan coach Brandon Naurato said on the "NHL Draft Class" podcast (link to: https://audioboom.com/channels/4991699-nhl-draft-class). "He's got the motor of a (Detroit Red Wings forward) Dylan Larkin. He can score from distance and is learning to score more from in tight like (Winnipeg Jets forward) Kyle Connor. And then just his ability to score off the pass like Connor. (New Jersey Devils center) Jack Hughes' vision is his biggest attribute, his IQ, and Adam is right up there with IQ and awareness."
Bedard and Fantilli are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters presented by BioSteel.
The top two players on Central Scouting's midterm ranking of International skaters also are expected to be top-five picks: forward Leo Carlsson of Orebro in the Swedish Hockey League and forward Matvei Michkov of SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Montreal Canadiens won the 2022 draft lottery and selected forward Juraj Slafkovsky with the No. 1 pick of the 2022 NHL Draft.
What are the odds of each team winning the No. 1 pick?
Anaheim Ducks 18.5 percent
Columbus Blue Jackets 13.5 percent
Chicago Blackhawks 11.5 percent
San Jose Sharks 9.5 percent
Montreal Canadiens 8.5 percent
Arizona Coyotes 7.5 percent
Philadelphia Flyers 6.5 percent
Washington Capitals 6.0 percent
Detroit Red Wings 5.0 percent
St. Louis Blues 3.5 percent
Vancouver Canucks 3.0 percent
Arizona Coyotes (from Ottawa Senators) 2.5 percent
Buffalo Sabres 2.0 percent
Pittsburgh Penguins 1.5 percent
Nashville Predators 0.5 percent
Calgary Flames 0.5 percent
Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class