Tonight is the draft lottery! I've never really followed the NHL draft but since we have a rooting interest in it this year I thought I'd do some reading and figure out how it works. I found a lot of people complaining about how complicated the whole system is but I don't know, it seems pretty easy to me. Let me walk you through it step-by-step.
- The lottery includes every team that missed the playoffs. (Let's go Buff-a-lo!)
- The exceptions are teams who are in the playoffs but have the first round draft pick of teams who are out. So for example, even though Anaheim is in the playoffs, they're in the lottery because they have Edmonton's first round pick.
- Fourteen balls (numbered 1-14) are placed in a ball spinner mcdoohickey (technical term, don't let it faze you) and four are drawn, creating a series of numbers. A probability chart divides the 1,001 possible combinations among the fourteen teams involved. The four-digit series that results from the balls drawn are then compared to the probability chart to determine which team has been assigned that combination.
- Oh, except for one series. One of the 1,001 series is eliminated so the odds are all even. If that series is drawn, it gets tossed and the drawing is re-done.
- The teams out of the playoffs are ranked from the least amount of points to the most. No team can move up more than four spots or down more than one. (For example, Buffalo is 13th out of 14 so they can't move any higher than 9th. Way to stink just enough to miss the playoffs but not enough to land in the top five, fellas. Tampa Bay, with the worst record, is first so they can't pick any lower than second.)
- Whoops, hold on. There are a few more exceptions.
- If the team selected has more than two players with 90 points or more they can drop up to three slots instead of only one. They have at least two really good players so there must be teams more in need.
- If the team selected has no players with 90 points or more they can move up seven spots instead of four. They might be worse than their record shows.
- If the team selected has more than two players with 90 points but both of those players are left wings they can move up five spots. They clearly need help on the right side and maybe on defense.
- If the team selected has a mascot deemed cute by a tribunal of fans they can move all the way up to the top of the draft. It pays to be cute even in the NHL.
- If the team selected has a mascot who has legs even though the animal it's based on does not have legs (see Fin, SJ Sharkie) they can be kicked out of the draft completely. Sea creatures with legs are creepy and should not be encouraged.
- The order in the first round has no bearing on the order in the following rounds.
Now... Was that so hard?
Like many other things in life, this system can be blamed on the Ottawa Senators. There were rumors that they purposely tanked in order to get Alexandre Daigle in the 1993 draft. Now some would argue that ending up with Alexandre Daigle (hello, nurse!) was punishment enough but no, the NHL decided to install the lottery so that no team could ever lose themselves into the first overall pick. Thanks, Ottawa!