Ah, the NHL Draft Lottery. There’s nothing quite like seeing the future of your franchise held in the hands of an accountant and a bingo ball machine.
This year’s lottery will be held tonight in Toronto, just before the start of Game 2 of the Penguins/Capitals series. It will be aired live on NBC as part of the pregame show, streaming on the NBC Sports app and on three (!!!) networks in Canada: Sportsnet, CBC and TVA.
The Canadians even get a pregame show for the lottery starting at 7:30.
A pregame show. For a lottery. I tell ya, that’s must-see television right there.
Below are a few questions and answers:
How does the thing work, anyway?
In previous years, fourteen balls numbered 1-14 were dropped into a hopper. (I’m not sure if they will add a 15th ball this year or just keep it as it’s been. Having 14 balls results in a nice, even 1000 potential combinations.) Four-number combinations are assigned at random to each team in the lottery and listed in a table.
Four balls are then drawn. The order in which the numbers are picked doesn’t matter. The combination will be matched against the table of possibilities, and the team whose number matches the combination drawn will win the first pick.
They’ll then repeat the process two more times (with redraws occurring if a combination comes up for a team that’s already had a combination drawn), and those will be the second and third picks. Starting at pick four, the order will go in reverse points order of the teams not drawn.
Where are the Hurricanes going to pick?
There are seven possibilities. They could be one of the three teams drawn, of course, and move up into the top three. They could stay at the 11th pick, which is where they will start the night before any numbers are drawn. Or they could move down to 12th, 13th, or even 14th depending on if any teams below them are drawn.
Here’s a handy table from Sportsnet listing the odds for where each team could end up at the end of the night:
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
Yeah, but it ain’t a great one. There’s twice as much of a chance that the Canes fall from 11th as there is that they move into the top three.
How does Vegas fit into this?
The Golden Knights get the same odds as the third-bottom Arizona Coyotes, but they can’t fall further than sixth. Their most likely place to pick is fifth, but they have about a 30% chance of a top-three pick.
Has anyone traded their lottery pick?
What happened last year?
The Toronto Maple Leafs finished with the league’s worst record, and won the first pick which they used on Auston Matthews. The Winnipeg Jets were the second team drawn, jumping up from sixth and earning the right to draft Patrik Laine. The third pick went to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who moved up one spot and took Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Nah. Just watch the show tonight and see if the Canes can hit paydirt for the first time ever.