Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke’s strategy for Friday’s scheduled NHL draft lottery is not complex.

“Saying the rosary,” Burke relayed before heading to New York for the league’s Board of Governors meeting that should end the 10-month-old lockout that resulted in cancellation of the 2004-05 season.

Once the 30 owners approve the new collective bargaining agreement, as the NHL Players Association did Thursday, attention will shift to the unprecedented lottery that for the first time will give every team a chance to land the No.1 pick, in this case junior sensation Sidney Crosby.

ESPNews is scheduled to carry coverage provided by Canadian outlet TSN at 1 p.m. PDT. Plans call for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to reveal the order of selection, one team at a time, working backward from 30th to first.

Crosby, the most heralded player to enter the draft since Mario Lemieux in 1984, is the prize for the winner in the scaled-down NHL entry draft July 30 in Ottawa. By all accounts, the Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, product and star of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rimouski Oceanic is a can’t-miss prospect who really can’t miss.

“He’s a special player,” Burke said. “He wants to be the guy. There’s a tremendous burden that goes with being the guy. He will welcome that. He has a marvelous maturity about him.”

In order to accommodate the extraordinary expectations accompanying Crosby’s arrival into the league, NHL officials devised a lottery system in which every team began with three balls in a drum. For every Stanley Cup playoff appearance from 2002-04 or draft-lottery victory the past four years, teams lost a ball, though every team was guaranteed having at least one ball left in the bin.

“We wanted to come back with some attention focused on us, with some interest building,” Bettman said. “We thought this would be a good way to do it.”

The Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins maintained three balls each. Ten teams, including the Ducks and Kings, have two balls apiece, with the remaining 16 clubs having one each.

“We have about a 4 percent chance at the top pick, but I’m not jumping off a bridge if we don’t win the lottery,” Burke said. “There are other players in this draft.”


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