News Blog: Clarifying the draft lottery details

Brian Costello
By: Blog: Clarifying the draft lottery details

Sarnia Sting's Steven Stamkos is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft (Photo by Mark Wilson) Author: The Hockey News

News Blog: Clarifying the draft lottery details

Brian Costello

We’re all use to the expression: Don’t believe everything you hear on TV or read in the newspaper. That has never been more accurate than with reports regarding the NHL draft lottery.

It happens every year about this time. Tons of media outlets get the NHL release providing details about the NHL draft drawing (the league uses the word drawing because lottery is too much of a gambling term).

After digesting the information, the media outlet reports the last-place Tampa Bay Lightning have a 25 percent chance of getting the first pick in the draft.

That’s absolutely not true. It’s almost double that – a 48.2 percent chance. I’ll attempt to explain why.

The NHL release, which is completely accurate, but a little bit deceptive, lists the chances the 14 non-playoff teams have of winning the draft lottery. It ranges from 25 percent for the 30th place team (Tampa Bay) to 18.8 percent for the 29th place team (Los Angeles), all the way down to 0.5 percent for the 17th place team (Carolina Hurricanes).

So how does Tampa Bay get bumped from 25 percent to 48.2? It’s because of the fact teams winning the draft lottery can only move up four spots in the order of non-playoff teams. That means the percent chance of the sixth-worst to the 14th-worst teams winning the lottery get moved to the 30th-place team.

When the lottery is held Monday night at 8 p.m. on television, the Lightning hope either themselves or the teams ranked sixth worst to 14th-worst win the lottery. That gives them the right to select first overall at the June 21 draft in Ottawa.

One other misconception: Once the lottery has been held to determine the first overall pick, there’s no more lottery drawings of teams based on those percentages. The sequence of draft selection automatically goes to reverse order of regular season standings.

Here’s each non-playoff team’s percent chance of winning the April 7 lottery.

30th-place team (Tampa Bay) 25% (48.2% chance of getting first pick overall.)
29th-place team (L.A.) 18.8%
28th-place team (Atlanta) 14.2%
27th-place team (St. Louis) 10.7%
26th-place team (N.Y. Islanders) 8.1%
25th-place team (Columbus) 6.2%
24th-place team  4.7% (Toronto)
23rd-place team (Phoenix)  3.6%
22nd-place team (Florida) 2.7%
21st-place team (Vancouver) 2.1%
20th-place team (Chicago) 1.5%
19th-place team (Edmonton - belongs to Anaheim) 1.1%
18th-place team (Buffalo) 0.8%
17th-place team (Carolina) 0.5%

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


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News Blog: Clarifying the draft lottery details