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Arizona Coyotes land No. 5 pick at NHL Draft Lottery

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still casting a dark shadow over the Valley’s professional sports teams. Arizona’s longstanding curse with draft lotteries and coin flips continued on Saturday at the NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto.

The Coyotes landed the No. 5 overall pick. While the Coyotes had a 37.7 percent chance of picking fifth — the highest odds they had of landing any of the first six picks — they finished with the league’s third-worst record. Despite the latter fact, the Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes leapfrogged the Coyotes to join the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres in contention for the top overall pick and the right to draft Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.

Buffalo wound up No. 1, Carolina was No. 2, and Montreal was No. 3 when the top three picks were announced later Saturday.

Montreal finished with the NHL’s fourth-worst record. Carolina finished with the 11th worst record, meaning a team outside the bottom 10 will pick among the top three for a second straight season. Philadelphia (12th worst) jumped to No. 2 last season, despite finishing with 40 more points than Colorado, which picked fourth.

Coyotes general manager John Chayka didn’t create waves when asked his opinion of the current system.

“The system is in place for good reasons,” he said. “I think it’s important for teams to field competitive teams and try to win every game. That’s why the system was put in place and it’s running its course in that sense.

“You could always tweak it and there are always different methods and different philosophies but they all have pros and cons. This is the method that the NHL is going with and I think it works well.”

The Coyotes had an 11.5-percent chance of picking first this year. Last year, the Coyotes had a 10.3-percent chance to win the first overall pick with a worst-case scenario of dropping to the seventh overall pick. The worst-case scenario played out last year. This year, the Coyotes could pick no lower than No. 6 and they climbed just one spot above that worst-case scenario.

This was the Coyotes’ sixth straight season in the lottery. They have selected, in chronological order, 12th, 12th, third, seventh, seventh (traded) and fifth the past six seasons. This will mark the fourth time since moving to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996 that the Coyotes have selected among the top five. They chose wing Blake Wheeler at No. 5 in 2004, center Kyle Turris at No. 3 in 2007, and center Dylan Strome at No. 3 in 2015.

“You’d like to win but you’re picking top five so you look big picture and top five historically gets you a lot of value ,” Chayka said. “We think we’ve got a good group already. We think we’re going to add another great player to that group. My view of it is after No. 1, there’s kind of a large grouping there and we’re going to make sure we get the best player out of that grouping.”

Dahlin of Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League, and right wing Andrei Svechnikov of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts are the No. 1 ranked players among international and North American skaters, respectively, in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s final rankings for the 2018 NHL Draft.

Among North American skaters, Boston University left wing Brady Tkachuk, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) right wing Filip Zadina, London Knights (OHL) defenseman Evan Bouchard, Michigan University defenseman Quinn Hughes Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL) defenseman Noah Dobson and forward Oliver Wahlstrom of the U.S. National Development Team all bear watching. Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist (Brynas’ junior), Russian right wing Vitali Kravtsov (Chelyabinsk), Czech right wing Martin Kaut (Pardubice) and Swedish defenseman Adam Ginning (Linkoping) are the other top international skaters.

In addition to selecting fifth overall, the Coyotes own picks in the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds of the 2018 NHL Draft, which will take place at American Airlines Center in Dallas from June 22-23.

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