NHL-worst Sharks win lottery, right to choose No. 1

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SECAUCUS, N.J. — Macklin Celebrini watched NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly slowly flip the placard to reveal that the San Jose Sharks had secured the first overall pick in the 2024 NHL draft lottery Tuesday night.

“My heart was beating. You can’t really prepare for it. It’s so unique, so special,” said Celebrini, the Boston University star who is expected to be the first overall pick in the NHL draft, set for The Sphere in Las Vegas in June. “It was excitement and, really, a little anxious.”

The Sharks finished last in the overall standings (19-54-9) and retained their position in the lottery. San Jose had an 18.5% chance to win the lottery and a 25.5% chance to pick first.

The lottery proved anticlimactic with no changes to the draft order this season. The Chicago Blackhawks, who selected center Connor Bedard with the No. 1 pick last year, retained the No. 2 selection, followed by the Anaheim Ducks at No. 3.

Sharks general manager Mike Grier indicated that his team would select Celebrini with the first overall pick.

“I would think so,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy year, but this was a real nice prize for us.”

Celebrini, a Vancouver native, has ties to the Bay Area. He is the son of Rick Celebrini, the Golden State Warriors director of sports medicine and performance. Macklin lived in the San Jose area and played for the San Jose Junior Sharks 14U AAA team.

Celebrini, 17, was a freshman at Boston University last season. He won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top men’s hockey player and could become the first player to win that award and then go first overall in the NHL draft. He said he’ll make the decision to either return to BU or play in the NHL next season after the draft.

Grier said the Sharks will speak with Celebrini and his family to see what his intentions are but that the center has “the ability to play” in the NHL immediately.

Celebrini said he spoke with Bedard and other top prospects who were drafted to rebuilding teams like the Sharks. “It’s a unique situation just going into that,” he said. But it’s kind of cool building something special there.

The NHL draft was held at the NHL Network studios. There were 19 people in a small, windowless room, including three media observers. A video screen displayed each team’s odds for the first overall pick. In front of the screen was a lottery machine attached to a hand-held control operated by Will Markham, a machine technician.

Balls numbering one through 14 were loaded into the machine one by one. Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the room with a lengthy explanation of the draft lottery rules and explained the drawing process: A four-number combination that was randomly assigned to one of the 14 teams in the lottery would be drawn. In total, there were 1,001 possible combinations. The teams were allotted a number of combinations based on their lottery odds.

With an NHL camera rolling, Bettman held up his phone to show the lottery started at 5:38 p.m. ET. He held up that day’s copies of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times front pages to certify the date.

There were two lottery draws, one for the first overall pick and one for the second selection. The balls were drawn every 20 seconds, with an NHL employee shouting “draw!” at the end of each interval.

The first number combination was 10-2-7-11, in order, drawn at 5:50 p.m.

Scott Clarke of Ernst and Young confirmed that the Sharks owned that combination.

The drawing for the second overall pick was 2-8-4-11. The winner was the Sharks, meaning it had to be redrawn. The redraw was 14-11-3-9. Again, the winner was the Sharks.

“We’ve never had a redraw before and now we have two,” said Bettman, glancing at Markham. “I hope your finger isn’t getting tired.”

The fourth drawing was 6-11-3-14. Clarke confirmed that combination belonged to the Blackhawks, meaning the two teams with the best lottery odds ended up with the top two picks.

As Bettman left the room, NHL employees began securing team logos to placards with the NHL shield on them. They were transported to the TV studio to be revealed live on the air by Daly.

Celebrini took part in the live TV broadcast of the draft and was on camera when Daly revealed the Sharks had won it. The NHL prospect said he received advice about how to react to the revelation of the first overall pick.

“Just a little heads up from everyone, just how to react,” Celebrini said. “Obviously, it’s live.”

Part of that advice was a cautionary tale: That time in 2015 when presumed first overall pick Connor McDavid became an instant meme for his stunned reaction to the Edmonton Oilers winning the lottery.

“Yeah, that’s what everyone brought up to me,” Celebrini said. “He had a unique experience.”

The order of selection for the first 16 picks of the first round:

1. San Jose Sharks

2. Chicago Blackhawks

3. Anaheim Ducks

4. Columbus Blue Jackets

5. Montreal Canadiens

6. Utah

7. Ottawa Senators

8. Seattle Kraken

9. Calgary Flames

10. New Jersey Devils

11. Buffalo Sabres

12. Philadelphia Flyers

13. Minnesota Wild

14. San Jose Sharks (from Pittsburgh)

15. Detroit Red Wings

16. St. Louis Blues

The NHL draft will be held at The Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28-29. It marks the first time the draft will be held in Las Vegas and the first event televised live from The Sphere.

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