And the winner is ...

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Richard Peddie isn't taking any chances.

When the official draft lottery takes place behind closed doors in New York today, Peddie will be on hand to make sure the proceedings are on the up-and-up.

"I just want to make sure everything is legit," Peddie said yesterday before breaking into a chuckle.

You can hardly blame the president of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Ltd., for being cautious. When the prize is budding superstar Sidney Crosby, the most famous 18-year-old in Canada, no stone --or, in this case, ball -- can be left unturned.

The Leafs will be among the 16 teams that will have one ball among the 48 that will be in the lottery barrel that will determine the draft order. At least that gives Toronto a shot at the No. 1 pick, which would open the door for Crosby to don the blue and white.

"A 2 1/2% chance at him -- that's not too bad," Peddie said.

Not bad for a team that, in a normal NHL year, would not even be eligible to select first. Each team will have a chance at drafting first overall, which is a departure from recent years when only the bottom five teams in the league from the regular season had a chance at picking No. 1.

The New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets each have three balls in the barrel, thereby giving them a 6.25% chance at landing Crosby. Teams from Anaheim, Atlanta, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville and Phoenix each have two balls and, thus, a 4.17% chance.

Television viewers won't see Peddie when TSN airs the Countdown to Crosby at 4 p.m. The actual lottery already would have been held by then.

What they will see is the countdown from No. 30 to No. 1, with general manager John Ferguson being the representative sitting at the Leafs table.

Peddie, Ferguson and Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of the board of MLSEL, will represent the Leafs at today's board of governors meeting, a gathering in which owners are expected to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement.


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