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Next Up: Draft Lottery

Well, for the first time since mid-September I'm starting a week without a single Caps-related event to cover. No practices. No games. No press conferences.

I've got to admit, it's a weird feeling. I can't imagine what the players and coaches feel like today.

But I wanted to let readers of The Insider know that just because the Caps won't be participating in the playoffs, that doesn't mean I won't be busy keeping tabs on things. It's going to be a busy -- and critical -- offseason. I expect a trade or two (perhaps at the draft) and definitely some free agent signings.

First up is tomorrow's draft lottery. The Caps' 27th place finish means they'll have a 10.7 percent chance winning the right to draft first overall. Philly has the best shot (25.0 percent), followed by Phoenix (18.8) and Los Angeles (14.2).

This year's draft class doesn't have the type of talent at the top end that can potentially change a franchise right away like an Ovechkin, Crosby or Mallkin. But players like Patrick Kane, Jakub Voracek and Alexei Cherepanov could prove to be yet another building block for the Caps.

It's also important to remember that in the NHL teams often use top picks to select the best player available, not the player who solves one of their needs. That makes it even harder to handicap who GMGM will draft because it depends on who's already been taken.

It also might make sense to deal that pick for an NHL-ready player.

And before you ask, no, I don't know what the Caps are going to do. GM's guard draft day plans very closely. Sometimes they don't even know what they are going to do until the last minute. In fact, GMGM wouldn't confirm that he was going to select Ovechkin in 2004 until the night before the draft. Because you just never know what another team might offer in the 11th hour.

I also wanted to say many thanks to J.P. from for inviting me to Saturday's after-season party for bloggers at Clyde's. It was great fun talking hockey with the guys from and DCSportsChick, too. I got there late, so I probably missed some of the other bloggers I wanted to meet.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 9, 2007; 11:17 AM ET
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