Caps beat odds to earn No. 1 pick

WASHINGTON -- Something finally went right for the
Washington Capitals: They won the NHL's draft lottery.

The Capitals, coming off their worst season in 26 years, leaped
ahead of Pittsburgh and Chicago to gain this year's No. 1 overall
draft pick at Tuesday's lottery in New York.

The consensus prospect for the top selection is Russian forward
Alexander Ovechkin, who has evoked comparisons to Pittsburgh great
Mario Lemieux.

"We just feel in some way we were rewarded for the difficult
task we undertook this year," Washington general manager George
McPhee said. "We hope today is the first day in a new era for the

The Capitals, considered strong playoff contenders with a
star-packed roster at the start of the season, traded away most of
their impact players after a disappointing start and finished with
the third worst record in the league. They had a 14.2 percent
chance of winning the lottery, behind Pittsburgh (25 percent) and
Chicago (18.8 percent).

Pittsburgh will chose second, Chicago third, Columbus fourth and
Phoenix fifth. All 14 non-playoff teams took part. Under the lottery system, only the last five teams in the standings had the chance to earn the top selection.

The Capitals will draft first overall for the third time in franchise history. They selected defenseman Rick Green in 1976 and
defenseman Greg Joly in 1974.

The draft is June 26-27 in Raleigh, N.C.

Washington's record of 23-46-10-3 was the third worst in the
NHL. The Caps traded away Jaromir Jagr, Petr Bondra, Robert Lang, Sergei Gonchar, Michael Nylander, Anson Carter and Mike Grier
in a six-week span.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.