The Edmonton Oilers have won the NHL draft lottery for the fourth time in six seasons, only this time the prize is a franchise-changing talent.
The Oilers on Saturday night earned the right to pick Connor McDavid first overall at the draft this June in Sunrise, Fla.
McDavid is considered a once-in-a-generation talent like Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux and four-time Oilers Stanley Cup-winner Wayne Gretzky.
Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said on conference call that there would be “zero” chance of trading the top pick.
“Very dynamic player, open-ice game,” MacTavish said of McDavid. “He’s not only the most productive junior player but also the most dynamic.”
McDavid called it some of the most intense few minutes of his life as NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed the teams that didn’t win before finally showing the Oilers logo on a gold card to indicate the winner.
“That minute where they’re picking out the cards, I think that’s the fastest my heart’s ever beated,” McDavid said.
With their three previous top picks in five years, Edmonton selected Taylor Hall (2010), Nail Yakupov (2011) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2012).
The Oilers have not made the playoffs since reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2006, but McDavid could instantly make them into a post-season contender.
Edmonton will play one more season at Rexall Place before the new Rogers Place opens downtown in Edmonton.
McDavid starred for Canada at the world junior championship and finished third in the Ontario Hockey League in scoring despite missing six weeks with a broken hand.
Edmonton’s biggest weakness has been a lack of a second-line centre behind Nugent-Hopkins, so McDavid fills its most glaring need.
The Oilers had a 11.5 per cent chance of winning the lottery.
American centre Jack Eichel is expected to go second to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Arizona Coyotes will pick third and the Toronto Maple Leafs fourth.
Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press