The NHL draft lottery goes tonight, but it will be much different than previous lotteries. Because one, two or even three teams could win the lottery (top-three picks) tonight, and not even know it.
That is not a typo. Let me explain.
Like the previous four NHL drafts, there will be three lotteries to determine the top three picks. There are 15 teams (actually 14, because Ottawa owns San Jose’s pick) eligible to win the lottery — the seven not involved in the Return To Play tournament, and the eight losing teams of the qualifying round.
Because the Qualifying Round has yet to take place, we don’t know which teams will occupy the 8-15 slots.
Here are the odds for the teams not involved in postseason play to win the #1 pick.
1. Red Wings – 18.5%
2. Senators – 13.5%
3. Senators – 11.5% (San Jose’s pick)
4. Kings – 9.5%
5. Ducks – 8.5%
6. Devils – 7.5%
7. Sabres – 6.5%
Here are the odds for the remaining eight slots.
8. Team A – 6%
9. Team B – 5%
10. Team C – 3.5%
11. Team D – 3%
12. Team E – 2.5%
13. Team F – 2%
14. Team G – 1.5%
15. Team H – 1%
And here is where it gets fun.
The 8-15 slots are undetermined. If any of the 8-15 teams win the #1, #2 or #3 draft slots, then the NHL will have another lottery after the qualifying round. All eight teams will have the same odds (12.5%) to see who wins the second lottery. So there is a chance the Oilers or Pittsburgh, if they lose to Chicago or Montreal respectively, could end up with a top-three pick. Edmonton and Pittsburgh won the two most coveted lotteries in recent memory, 2005 and 2015, and I can only imagine the uproar from opposing fans if either did again.
The eight losing teams from these matchups will be involved in the possible second lottery.
Edmonton v. Chicago
Nashville v. Arizona
Vancouver v. Minnesota
Calgary v. Winnipeg
Pittsburgh v. Montreal
Carolina v. NY Rangers
NY Islanders v. Florida
Toronto v. Columbus
There is a chance, albeit very slim, that all three draft spots will come from the 8-15 slots, meaning we could watch tonight and have no idea which team will pick first, second or third. That is unlikely, but keep in mind the eighth slot has won the draft lottery twice: Chicago in 1999 and New Jersey in 2011. However, those teams could only move up four spots, but they also won the lottery with 3.6% chance. With a combined 24.5% of winning the lottery the 8-15th seed have the second best chance to win behind the Ottawa Senators (25%, with 2nd and 3rd pick). A qualifying round team will win the lottery.
In 2016 the NHL changed to have the top-three spots available in the lottery.
Toronto won the lottery and retained their #1 pick.
Winnipeg moved up from 6th to 2nd.
Columbus moved up from 4th to 3rd.
New Jersey won and moved from 5th to pick 1st.
Philadelphia moved from 13th up to 2nd.
Dallas moved up from 8th to 3rd.
Buffalo won the lottery and retained their #1 pick.
Carolina moved up from 11th to 2nd.
Montreal moved from 4th to 3rd.
New Jersey won and moved up from 3rd to 1st.
New York Rangers moved up from 6th to 2nd.
Chicago moved up from 12th to 3rd.
In this new three-lottery system, only once has all three lotteries been won by teams in the first seven slots.
And that’s what makes tonight so intriguing.
QUALIFYING ROUND SCHEDULE…
The NHL will not announce their two Hub cities today. An announcement will come over the weekend or on Monday.
My main question regarding the Hub City will be when they play games. Starting a game in Vegas at 12 p.m. 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m, means the games would start one, two and three hours later in Mountain, Central and Eastern time zones.
It will be a short-term problem, and ends once the qualifying round and seeding round is complete.
But today, I heard the NHL is looking at possibly playing five games a day, instead of six. So one Hub would have three games, and the other play two. The next day they would rotate. And this could solve some of the TV start time issues, and because the seeding teams are only playing three games each, while the qualifying round is a best-of-five, the seeding rounds could be spread out a bit longer.
Either way, there will be a challenge of either starting games in the morning in Vegas, or having them start late at night for TV viewers in the other three time zones.
Many have wondered what happens if a game goes to a lengthy overtime? The seeding games will have regular season OT rules with 3×3 for five minutes and then a shootout, so they aren’t a concern. However, it is a valid question. Bill Daly told me a few weeks ago on my radio show that if a game goes long, then will just have to re-adjust the start time of the following game.
Makes sense, but how much of a concern will it be? I looked that the past five seasons of the playoffs, and looked at how many games went to OT in the first round. I did not include game six or seven, since the qualifying round is a best of five.
Last season we has six OT games in the first round. They all ended in the first 10:23.
In 2018 there were four OT games in the first five games of the first round. Two of them went to double OT, 29 and 35 minutes, while the other two were finished in the first 12 minutes.
In 2017 we saw 16 games go to OT. Two them went to double OT (31 and 33 minutes), six lasted 13-18 minutes, one was 9:42 and the other seven were under six minutes.|
In 2016 there were six OT games with two going to double OT (23 and 36 minutes) and the four ranging from 3-12 minutes.
In 2015 we saw 10 OT games with one in triple OT (41 min), one in double OT (27 min) and the other eight ranged from 2-11 minutes.
Over a five-year span the NHL had 42 OT games (in the first five games of the first round) and one went to triple OT and seven went to double OT for a total of eight games playing longer than 18 minutes in OT.
That averages to 1.6 games/postseason lasting longer than 18 OT minutes. Yes, overtime games are a concern, but I’m not sure they are a major one.
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