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NHL Could Have Two Draft Lotteries

The NHL draft lottery was tentatively set to take place on April 9th, but Covid 19 has put everything on hold. On Monday, the NHL sent out a release where they answered some questions about the future of the league.

Their response about next season made me think any continuation of the 2019/2020 regular season is slim.

If the NHL playoffs go into July and/or August, could there be a shortened regular season next year?

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“No. We do not anticipate a scenario in our resumption of play format that would endanger or interfere with the League’s ability to stage and execute the 2020-21 NHL season in its entirety.”

Right now they don’t want to disrupt next season. It makes financial sense. The regular season is where they make most of their money with 1,271 games. Even though playoff gates are higher, there are much fewer games played. Last season had a total of 91 playoff games. In 2018 we saw 84 playoff games. 2017 had 87 playoff games, 2016 had 91 and 2015 had 89. So in the past five seasons the NHL has averaged 88 playoff games.

That is 7% of the regular season and I understand why the NHL is adamant it doesn’t want to reduce their 82-game schedule next season. The playoffs are the cherry on top, but the regular season is where the NHL makes the majority of its money. Reducing it to a 70-game season (for example) would mean 1,085 games, which is 186 fewer games. And for a league that is still heavily reliant on game-day revenue from tickets, food and beverage, merchandise and parking, that is a significant decrease in revenue.

I think it is more likely the NHL would have some sort of playoff format in the summer, instead of concluding the regular season, but right now even a potential playoff is uncertain.

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The NHL completed 85% of this season, and for me that is a large enough portion to consider it an official season. If they were to have playoffs, it might include some play-in games or a larger format, but the draft lottery for the 2020 NHL entry draft will likely be similar to what we’ve seen in previous years. I see no reason to have every team eligible for the top picks, considering we played 85% of the season and most playoff spots were already secure.

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Here are the odds to win one of the top three picks. I based these standings on points% of the bottom 15 teams.

*Arizona keeps their pick if it is top three, and the Devils will get a 2021 pick, but if Arizona doesn’t move into the top-three picks then New Jersey gets that pick courtesy of the Taylor Hall trade.

This is pretty standard. Where these odds could change is if there is some sort of extended playoffs, but for this project I’m going off the assumption there will be no more games played, regular season or playoffs, this year.

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A SECOND DRAFT LOTTERY…

Here is where it gets interesting. If we see no playoffs, then how will the NHL determine picks #16-#31?

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They could just go off the current standings (again based on points%) and in that case the picks would be as follows:

#16- Calgary
#17- Vancouver
#18- Nashville
#19- Toronto
#20- Edmonton
#21- Ottawa (NY Islanders pick courtesy of Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade)
#22- Dallas
#23- Carolina
#24- Vegas
#25- Pittsburgh
#26- Philadelphia
#27- Washington
#28- San Jose (Tampa Bay’s pick courtesy of Barclay Goodrow trade)
#29- Colorado
#30- St. Louis
#31- Anaheim (Boston’s pick via the Ondrej Kase trade)

But that is boring, and considering what we’ve seen in the past and based on two conversations I had with people in NHL management just using the standings wouldn’t be the best option.

Awesome. The only thing better than one draft lottery, is two.

The NHL could go off the blueprint from the 2005 draft lottery. There was no 2004/2005 season and the NHL came up with a weighted draft lottery.

“The Draft Drawing, a weighted lottery system, was used to determine the order of selection for all seven rounds of the Entry Draft. Under the weighted lottery system, the clubs that neither qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, nor were awarded the first overall selection in each of the 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 entry drafts, had the greatest chance of receiving the first overall selection, 6.3 per cent. These clubs were the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.

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Ten clubs met one of the seven criteria listed above and had a 4.2% chance of winning the drawing, while the remaining 16 clubs met more than one of the criteria and had a 2.1% chance.”

If the NHL wanted to use this formula, they would have to include this regular season, and considering they played 85% of it, that makes sense and is fair. You couldn’t use the three seasons prior to this year, because Vegas has only been in the league for two of them.

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I would include this year and go with the 2018, 2019 and 2020 regular seasons and the previous four drafts like they used in 2005.

Vancouver and Edmonton are the only teams to meet just one of the seven criteria so they each would get two balls (11.1%)

The other 14 teams met more than one of the criteria so they would each get one ball and a 5.55%

There would be a total of 18 balls.

This lottery would be the opposite of the draft lottery in that the first ball drawn wins. Then the second ball gets the 17th pick and so on.

We have somewhat of a precedent from 2005, so I’d use it. It isn’t ideal, but I don’t see a better option, and who doesn’t love a draft lottery? The NHL could televise both of them a week before the NHL draft as hockey fans would be starving for any type of NHL content.

How would you allocate the draft picks for the upcoming draft?

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