The Tampa Bay Lightning won the NHL draft lottery held Monday in New York, giving them the first overall pick in the June 20 draft at Ottawa.
The Lightning (31-42-9), the worst team in the NHL this season, had the best shot to win the lottery at 48.2 per cent.
The Los Angeles Kings (18.8%) won the right to draft second, the Atlanta Thrashers (14.2%) third, the St. Louis Blues (10.7%) fourth, and the New York Islanders (8.1%) fifth.
"This has been a season of just incredible bad luck for us on so many fronts throughout the year," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster told reporters on a conference call. "It was nice to see that, for the first time in an entire season, that the storm cloud parted and there was a little bit of sunshine here in the Sunshine State."
The lottery is a weighted system used to determine the order of selection for the 14 teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs.
However, teams can move up just four positions in the lottery, so only the five teams with the lowest point totals in regular-season play got a crack at the No. 1 pick.
Steven Stamkos, an 18-year-old centre with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, is widely considered the most coveted player in the draft.
"We view him as a player who is an impact player," Feaster said.
Stamkos, from Scarborough, Ont., posted 58 goals and 47 assists for 105 points in 61 games this season.
"I want to get drafted as high as possible," Stamkos said. "But just getting drafted is a tremendous honour.
"Getting drafted is more like a bragging right. Once you get to camp, then everyone is on an even playing field and you're playing for a job.
"You can be a fourth-rounder, but if you outplay the first-rounder, they're going to take you."
The Columbus Blue Jackets select sixth, Toronto Maple Leafs seventh, the Phoenix Coyotes eighth, Nashville Predators ninth, Vancouver Canucks 10th, Chicago Blackhawks 11th and Anaheim Ducks 12th, having acquired the pick from the Edmonton Oilers.
The Buffalo Sabres pick 13th and the Carolina Hurricanes 14th.