It's not the Mega-Millions, but the winner of Tuesday night's NHL Draft lottery will earn a heck of a prize: the right to take Nail Yakupov, ranked first overall in the NHL Central Scouting Service's final rankings.
Yakupov has been the consensus first-overall pick since the summer. He finished the season in Sarnia with 69 points in only 42 games, adding five points in six playoff games.
Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray jumped Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts to move into the second spot on the list. Murray is widely considered the most complete defenseman on the list, ahead of the likes of Jacob Trouba and Moose Jaw's Morgan Rielly, who managed a point per game while held to only 18 games this year.
Assuming the Blue Jackets retain the first overall pick, the percentages would likely give the second pick to Edmonton. Despite the appeal of adding an offensive power like Grigorenko, Filip Forsberg or Alex Galchenyuk to a roster with young stars like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle, it is time for the Oilers to build their back end. Murray's just the type of two-way defenseman needed to round out the rebuilding process in Edmonton, complimenting the progression of Jeff Petry and Corey Potter, and a maturing prospect in Colten Teubert, and last year's first rounder Oscar Klefbom. Murray is the best of a deep first round for defenseman.
One could even expect the Oilers to trade down in the event that they win the first overall pick to move into a better position to take Murray. They could likely move down as far as the four spot.
Alex Galchenyuk, who missed all but two games this year for Sarnia, moved into the fourth spot on the list based mostly on an 83-point season in 2010-11. Assuming Grigorenko goes in the top three, Galchenyuk should be available for teams like Toronto or Anaheim.
The Islanders, who hold the fifth best odds at landing the number one pick, may also find themselves in a position to trade down. The Isles' greatest needs in this draft will likely be on the blue line, with promising top six forwards developing the last two seasons but an aging and immobile defense going forward to accompany Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald. Calvin de Haan will also get every chance to crack the lineup in camp this Fall.
Without a shot at Murray, the Isles would have the option to trade down to the ninth or tenth spot and with a chance for Matthew Dumba or Jacob Trouba. Of course, Garth Snow has been known for his draft surprises, and also his willingness to move down in the draft.
When the balls are drawn tomorrow night, we should get a pretty decent idea of how the top ten picks will lay out. The first round is defenseman-heavy, and the teams at the top have that need to fill. In addition, teams like Toronto and Montreal will be willing to pay the price if a pick for Galchenyuk or Grigorenko is made available.
The grounds for the wheeling and dealing will be laid Tuesday at 8 PM on NBC Sports. Mock Draft enthusiasts, start your engines.