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Draft Lottery Day Primer

What exactly is the draft lottery anyway?

2021 NHL Draft Lottery Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL Draft Lottery is today to determine the order of the picks of the NHL Draft, which will be held July 7-8. The Draft Lottery will be held at 3:30pm Pacific and will be televised on ESPN/ESPN+.

Unlike the NFL, the draft order isn’t determined strictly by worst-to-best in standings. And unlike the NBA, the draft lottery is unnecessarily convoluted.

How it works

There will be a drawing for the #1 overall pick. Teams eligible for the drawing are the 11 worst teams last year, by record. The odds of winning for each of the 11 teams are not equal.

They are:

Montreal Canadiens: 25.5%

Arizona Coyotes: 13.5%

Seattle Kraken: 11.5%

Philadelphia Flyers: 9.5%

New Jersey Devils: 8.5%

Chicago Blackhawks: 7.5%

Ottawa Senators: 6.5%

Detroit Red Wings: 6.0%

Buffalo Sabres: 5.0%

Anaheim Ducks: 3.5%

San Jose Sharks: 3.0%

If you’re the sort of person who likes watching the pageantry of watching men in suits pull ping pong balls out of a hopper and you can’t get enough, you’re in luck! There will be a second drawing for the #2 overall pick with the following odds:

Montreal Canadiens: 18.8%

Arizona Coyotes: 14.4%

Seattle Kraken: 11.5%

Philadelphia Flyers: 9.8%

New Jersey Devils: 8.8%

Chicago Blackhawks: 7.9%

Ottawa Senators: 6.9%

Detroit Red Wings: 6.4%

Buffalo Sabres: 5.4%

Anaheim Ducks: 3.8%

San Jose Sharks: 3.3%

Columbus Blue Jackets: 2.9%

Starting this year, a team can only improve its positioning twice in a five-year rolling window.

Picks 3-32 in the first round, and every pick in subsequent rounds is determined by worst-to-first in standings.

So with two drawings and the possibility of jumbling the draft order up and down and such, the chances of Seattle’s first-round pick are:

1st overall: 11.5%

2nd overall: 11.5%

3rd overall: 7.4%

4th overall: 40.7%

5th overall: 28.8%

The importance of a top two pick

If Seattle’s 23% of getting a top two pick did come in, that would be a considerably better outcome based on historical results. At the very top of the draft, hockey scouting tends to be pretty efficient compared to other sports, and players taken that early in the draft have a much better chance of being immediate, high-impact players.

That’s not to say that getting a player 3-5 is a disaster by any means. It just usually takes longer for them to turn into stars when they do.

Who is the prize of the draft?

The presumptive #1 overall pick is center Shane Wright who plays in the Ontario Hockey League for the Kingston Frontenacs. He had 32 goals, 62 assists (94 points) in 63 games.

“Play wrong for Wright.”

“Many wrongs make a Wright.”

Make up your own variations!

But in play is also Slovak Juraj Slafkovsky, who led his team to his country’s first ever Olympic medal in ice hockey, and he was voted the MVP of the Olympic ice hockey tournament.

I don’t know what rhymes with Slafkovsky, but we’ve got a few hours to work that out.