Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets clinched 30th place for the rebuilding Sabres, meaning they can fall no lower than second during the NHL Draft Lottery next Saturday and select one of the prized 18-year-old centers in June.
The Sabres have a 20 percent chance of getting McDavid, hockey’s biggest prospect since Sidney Crosby.
On Friday, about 240 miles from Columbus, McDavid was giving perhaps the most electrifying performance of his three-year junior career in Erie, scoring five goals in the Otters’ 7-3 second-round Ontario Hockey League playoff win against the London Knights.
Earlier in the day, Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player. His Boston University Terriers play for the national championship tonight.
The Sabres host Crosby and the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. The Penguins must win the season finale to make the playoffs.