NHL Draft Lottery tonight – Isles eye top pick

All eyes will be on the NHL offices in Toronto this evening, as the 2012 Scotiabank NHL Draft Lottery, a weighted system to determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks of the 2012 NHL Draft, will take place at 8 p.m., EST. Tonight’s telecast will be televised by TSN in Canada. NBC Sports Network (Verizon Fios Channel 590, Time Warner Cable Channel 481, RCN Cable Channel 691, Cablevision Channel 719, Directv Channel 603, Dish Network Channel 151) will air tonight’s lottery in the U.S.

With hopes of securing the top overall selection in June’s NHL entry draft, the Islanders will hold a 10.7% chance of moving up from their present fourth slot to nab the coveted top pick. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who finished 30th overall with a league-low 65 points, will hold the best chance – 25% – of locking up the top overall pick.

Here are the odds for the remaining 12 non-playoff teams: Edmonton Oilers (18.8%), Montreal Canadiens (14.2%), Toronto Maple Leafs (8.1%), Anaheim Ducks (6.2%), Minnesota Wild (4.7%), Carolina Hurricanes (3.6%), Winnipeg Jets (2.7%), Tampa Bay Lightning (2.1%), Washington Capitals (via Colorado – 1.5%), Buffalo Sabres (1.1%), Dallas Stars (0.8%) and Calgary Flames (0.5%).

No team can move up more than four spots, or move down more than one. Therefore, only Columbus, Edmonton, Montreal, the Islanders and Toronto can pick first overall.

Nail Yakupov, a highly-skilled winger hailing from Nizhnekamsk, Tatarstan, Russia, is the consensus early favorite to be selected with the top pick. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Yakupov, scored 80 goals in his two seasons playing junior hockey for the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League. He has drawn comparisons to the two other Russian wingers to be selected with the first overall pick – Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) and Alexander Ovechkin (2004) – along with the “Russian Rocket” Pavel Bure.

Other notable forwards expected to be selected near the top of June’s entry draft include: Mikhail Grigorenko (C, Quebec, QMJHL), Alex Galchenyuk (C, Sarnia, OHL) and Filip Forsberg (LW, Leksands IF, SWE)

A quartet of young, highly-skilled defenders have also been bandied about as potential top-5 selectees. They include: Ryan Murray (D, Everett, WHL), Matthew Dumba (D, Red Deer, WHL), Griffin Reinhart (D, Edmonton, WHL) and Morgan Rielly (D, Moose Jaw, WHL).

If successful, the Islanders will pick first overall for the fifth time in franchise history. Other past top selections include: Billy Harris (1972), Denis Potvin (1973), Rick DiPietro (2000) and John Tavares (2009).

The New Jersey Devils won last season’s draft lottery, moving up from the eighth spot to select Swedish-born defenseman Adam Larsson with the fourth overall pick. One pick later, the Islanders selected forward Ryan Strome from the Niagara Ice Dogs.