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Breaking Down the NHL Draft Lottery

Wednesday, 03.12.2008 / 10:53 AM CT / Features
By Kevin Wilson  - Nashville Predators
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Breaking Down the NHL Draft Lottery
With the Predators receiving Florida’s first-round selection at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft as some of the compensation in exchange for goaltender Tomas Vokoun last summer, Preds fans should keep a close eye on the Panthers’ place in the standings down the home stretch, as they are currently positioned 11th in the Eastern Conference and 24th in the NHL. If they fall just two spots lower, Florida’s pick (which now belongs to the Predators) will be in play for the first overall selection, thanks to the draft lottery system. Here is how it works:

All the picks that originally belonged to teams who do not make the 2008 postseason, 14 in all, seven from each conference will be determined by the draft drawing, which is a weighted lottery system using numbered ping-pong balls, just like you see every night in the Powerball drawing. For example, Florida’s pick now belongs to Nashville and Edmonton’s first choice was dealt to Anaheim, but the positioning of Florida and Edmonton will determine what spot the other teams will draft from.

No pick can move up more than four spots, or down more than one spot in the drawing, and therefore only the bottom five picks have the opportunity to move into the coveted number-one spot.

From the NHL’s draft documents which detail the process:
“Fourteen balls, numbered 1 to 14, are placed in a lottery machine. The machine expelled four balls, forming a series of numbers. The four-digit series resulting from the expulsion of the balls are matched against a probability chart that divided the possible combinations among the 14 participating clubs.”

The probabilities break down like this (based on the combinations assigned):
30th –place team: 25% chance of winning
29th –place team: 18.8%
28th –place team: 14.2%
27th –place team: 10.7%
26th –place team: 8.1%
25th –place team: 6.2%
24th –place team: 4.7%
23rd –place team: 3.6%
22nd –place team: 2.7%
21st –place team: 2.1%
20th –place team: 1.5%
19th –place team: 1.1%
18th –place team: 0.8%
17th –place team: 0.5%

But, even if the 17th place team wins the lottery (which is slim at only one-half of one percent), they can only move up four spots, to 10th from 14th. Only twice since the lottery was put into place in 1995 has a team outside the top five won.

Since only the top five can move into the first spot, if they or any of the other nine teams that can’t get the number-one pick, and they can’t move down more than one spot, the 30th-place team has a 48.2% chance of retaining the pick.

Works cited: NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement and NHLSCAP.com

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
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7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
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10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

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2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61