May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favour

Want to know who’s going to draft Connor McDavid? Dont assume it’s going to be Buffalo or Edmonton. The NHL Draft Simulator is a great way to kill some time and get angry (or excited) at hypothetical situations.

Rob Zaenglein is a Web Developer and admitted Buffalo Sabres fan (which makes him some kind of monster) who developed this fun little time killer of a website called It’s him you can thank for making you angry that the Leafs are going to Draft Connor McDavid in 10 of your 50 simulations or whatever it may be for you.

It’s a nice way to remind yourself that just because you have the best odds it doesn’t mean you are going to win in games of chance. Also, you can flip a coin a hundred times and, while unlikely, it’s still possible for it to land heads every time. 

I ran the simulator 100 times and while Buffalo and Edmonton lead in wins (19 and 14 respectively) it was a bit of a mess after that. New Jersey won more than they were supposed to and in my pretend world the conspiracy theories about Lou Lamoriello’s ties to the NHL were rampant. It was quite the scandal.

A couple of really important points for Oiler fans who are four points back of Carolina and relatively firmly entrenched in 29th place, the odds of winning the lottery are relatively slim and the odds of staying in the second spot is not a lot better. 

There are three scenarios that can play out if the Oilers stay in 29th, which is absolutely possible even if they are playing better. They can win the Lottery and pick first, the Sabres can win the Lottery and Edmonton will pick second, or anyone else can win the lottery and Edmonton will pick third. Here are the odds of each one based on where they sit today in the standings.

Pick 1st: 13.5% (Edmonton wins)

Pick 2nd: 20% (Buffalo wins)

Pick 3rd: 66.5% (Anyone else wins)


The NHL changed the rules of the draft to allow every non-playoff team a chance to win the lottery and move up to the top spot. It’s not a move that I particularly like as I think giving Los Angeles Connor McDavid instead of Buffalo or Carolina is subverting what the draft was really doing for struggling teams. Namely, giving them a fair way to acquire talented young players. 

Additionally, the NHL started mixing around with the odds that the better teams had to win the lottery. Under the old odds the worst three teams had a 58% chance of winning the lottery. Now the worst three teams have 45% chance of winning the lottery. They are still *good* but it certainly is a blow to the clubs who are legitimately bad.

More changes to the draft are coming but the overall impression is that the league wants to make “Tanking” as difficult and non-beneficial as humanly possible. When the changes were announced I had a good laugh about the NHL needing to create more “Oiler Rules” like they did in the 80’s, except this time to prevent the Oilers from being so bad instead of stopping the Oilers from dominating the league. In my mind Edmonton is already an example of how tanking doesn’t guarantee success, but apparently that wasn’t enough for the league.

Do the Oilers “deserve” to win the lottery? In the sense that they are a horrible team that has been bad in general at hockeying, yes. Of course they do. I don’t really feel the same about the Kings, the Wild or any other team on the playoff bubble (but nobody asked me anyway). It would just leave a bad taste in my mouth if a pretty good team won the lotto.

In any case, this Lottery Simulator is a fun way to get yourself geared up for the Oilers to draft someone other than McDavid or Eichel. It’s why seeing Lawson Crouse rated third by a few scouting organizations scares me. It’s why I’m interested in how Hanifin compares to other defenders in this Draft. The Oilers can be incredibly bad for the next 30 games but the program doesn’t care about that. It’s just random chance.

Two-thirds of the time this thing is run Edmonton should not be getting a “can’t miss” generational talent. The only really good thing about the state of the NHL Draft Lottery for Oiler fans right now is that the Flames have a 0% chance of drafting Connor McDavid. Tell me how things went when you ran the simulation the first time.

  • Fee Logolin

    Ran the sim 100 times – surprisingly the Oilers won 22 times, Buffalo 14 times and someone else 64 times. Realistically, I think this means Oil will end up picking 3rd ….

  • Darth Oiler

    Buffalo won the first time I ran it and I had to run it 14 times before the oilers won (so about eakins level of success) toronto won 3 times in that 14. *HOLD ME IM SCARED*

  • Andresito

    dont kid yourself. Bettman will rig this lotto in a heartbeat. He’s going to Arizona, Carolina or Buffalo. He hates canadian teams. He won’t be going to Edm. Get last place though and bettman cant rig them from getting atleast eichel

    • Aitch

      Of all fans, Edmonton fans should recognize that this isn’t true. Bettman worked his backside off to keep the Oilers in Edmonton. Whatever you think of his other policies, there is no denying this. The reason the Oilers are still in Edmonton is because of the work he did with the EIG back when Pocklington was going out of business.

  • Spiel

    I’d like a team that has never had the first overall pick to get it.

    Minnesota, Carolina, New Jersey, or Arizona.

    NJ and Arizona franchises have picked first overall but that was before they were in their current cities. I exclude Dallas because Modano is recent (and good) enough for that franchise even though he was picked by the Minnesota NorthStars.

  • Spiel

    It’s this type of stuff that has allowed this organization to wallow for so long.

    Draft parties to celebrate first overall picks instead of demanding better.

    Lionizing draft picks and not questioning when they’re forced into the lineup too early. Instead of demanding better.

    Lapping up years of management selling a rebuild when it’s really quitting. Instead of demanding better.

    Karma is biting us in the ass for quitting. Let’s stop the dysfunctional cycle of looking at the next draft and continue to shrill for changes in ownership.