The Florida Panthers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. But they own a three-point lead in the equally important Seth Jones sweepstakes.

Going into Tuesday's games they had the NHL's lowest point total of 32, but the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators were within six points of that total.

The number of competitors is important, because the consensus is four elite-level prospects are in the 2013 draft, led by American defenseman Jones.

"People have marveled at (the Minnesota Wild's) Jonas Brodin and (Boston Bruins') Dougie Hamilton and what they have done this season," NBC analyst Pierre McGuire said. "But Seth Jones is probably a step up on both of those players."

Jones, son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, played this season for Portland (Ore.) of the Western Hockey League.

"To me, he is as clear-cut as a No. 1 as you can be," former NHL general manager Craig Button said.

Although finishing 30th out of 30 teams won't guarantee the No. 1 pick because of the lottery system, the team finishing last has the best odds (25%) of landing Jones.

This season, every non-playoff team has a chance to pick No. 1 at the draft if it wins the lottery. In the past, a team could move up only four places.

This year's draft is projected to be deep in talent, but there seems to be a real advantage to getting in the top four and landing either Jones, Finnish league center Alexander Barkov or forwards Jonathan Drouin or Nathan MacKinnon from Halifax (Nova Scotia) of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.