Penguins win NHL lottery

Pittsburgh won the #1 pick and the right to draft Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby will likely play with Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux next season, as the Pittsburgh Penguins won an unprecedented 30-team draft lottery on Friday.

By winning the lottery, Pittsburgh secured the right to draft Crosby, a 17-year-old junior hockey phenom, with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft.

"Nothing's done yet but I'd be more than happy to play there," Crosby told cable sports network TSN immediately after the lottery. "I'm very excited right now."

The entry draft is slated to take place July 30 in Ottawa.

Although still a teenager, Crosby is already being billed as hockey's next superstar. Some even think he will be the next Wayne Gretzky.

"He's really a tremendous young man, and that's most important," Gretzky told CBC News.

"Every now and then somebody special comes along, and he's that guy. He's a special person, he's a special player. Either you have charisma as an athlete or you don't [and] he has tremendous charisma."

There's also a tremendous amount of pressure on Crosby, Gretzky said. He hopes fans don't expect the teen to be a Mario Lemieux and score 60 goals in a season.

"That's not going to happen because the game has changed," Gretzky said. But he believes Crosby is key to hockey's future.

"He's going to excite fans, he's going to draw people into the game because he's good with the media. That's something we need for the sport. He's very much a positive for the future of our game," Gretzky said.

The lottery process was a departure from recent years when only the bottom five teams during the regular season had a shot at the No. 1 pick.

On Friday, each of the league's 30 teams started with three balls and had a shot at the No. 1 pick based on a weighted formula.

For every playoff appearance in the last three years, or a No. 1 overall draft pick over the last four years, a team lost a ball. Each team had at least one ball in the draft barrel, which contained 48 balls in total.

The Penguins, along with the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers, had the best odds at landing the top selection with three balls apiece.

"This is a unique circumstance," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said prior to the lottery.

"Nobody was particularly thrilled, but everyone understood that on balance it was probably the fairest way to approach it," he added.

The actual lottery took place behind a closed-door gathering with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, representatives from the accounting firm Ernst and Young and a representative from each of the 30 teams.

The lottery was part of a busy day for Bettman and the league's board of governors.

League owners ratified the new collective bargaining agreement, as the NHL Players' Association did Thursday. The league also revealed new rule changes for this coming season.

Results of the lottery:

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins

#2 Anaheim Mighty Ducks

#3 Carolina Hurricanes

#4 Minnesota Wild

#5 Montreal Canadiens

#6 Columbus Blue Jackets

#7 Chicago Blackhawks

#8 Atlanta Thrashers

#9 Ottawa Senators

#10 Vancouver Canucks

#11 Los Angeles Kings

#12 San Jose Sharks

#13 Buffalo Sabres

#14 Washington Capitals

#15 New York Islanders

#16 New York Rangers

#17 Phoenix Coyotes

#18 Nashville Predators

#19 Detroit Red Wings

#20 Philadelphia Flyers

#21 Toronto Maple Leafs

#22 Boston Bruins

#23 New Jersey Devils

#24 St. Louis Blues

#25 Edmonton Oilers

#26 Calgary Flames

#27 Colorado Avalanche

#28 Dallas Stars

#29 Florida Panthers

#30 Tampa Bay Lightning