Who will win the NHL Draft Lottery?

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Wow Gary Bettman! How much do you want to turn the NHL into the NBA! That’s not a rhetorical question. I literally want you to e-mail me back telling me if you are [really doing that] so I can make sure you don’t [do anything to ruin hockey again]. I’m sorry, but hockey fans don’t fully realize until tonight how disgracefully stupid this idea is. Now, I understand why the NHL decided to act to follow the NBA’s process of having a 14-team draft lottery instead of its 5-team draft lottery. Only baseball can compete with hockey’s parity, so it is not a bad idea to assume that certain non-playoff teams are deciding to lose the rest of their games on purpose so they can have a good draft pick. With that said, the regular season has to matter somehow, and to see any chance where a team like Columbus this year get any form of a chance with the number one overall pick is nothing short of an outrage.

But before, I continue, let me say that I loved the NBA before I loved the NHL. I know, it’s blasphemous and you can let me walk the plank if you can just let me finish. I don’t like the NBA draft lottery either. I loved the old NHL lottery system where only the top five were involved, but a weighted system would have been a great compromise. But since good old Gary wanted it this way, we need to understand how the NBA draft lottery always works in order to know how the NHL draft lottery will turn out.

1985 was the first year the NBA used the draft lottery process by having all non-playoff teams with an equal amount of a chance to get the number one overall pick. I repeat: “all non-playoff teams with an equal amount of a chance to get the #1 overall pick”. Do you realize that if that were to happen this year, someone like Dallas has a shot of getting Nerlens Noel and have him team up with the Dirk Nowitzki’s apprentice as the franchise player? Is that fair? Welp, this process stayed that way until 1989 so thank the heavens the NBA realized it didn’t. Since then, the NBA has fine tuned how many chances each non-playoff team has to get the number one overall pick. Even so, there have been many suspicious winners.

1985: The New York Knicks received the number one overall pick (Patrick Ewing) and beat out fellow world class city Indiannapolis for it. It was also sad for all basketball fans to envision a world where fellow Knick Bernard King, one of the greatest scorers of his generation, would never be the same after tearing his ACL at the tail end of that 1984-85 season.

1987: San Antonio receives the number one overall pick (David Robinson) after seeing basketball legends George Gervin and Artis Gilmore leave to Chicago during the end of their careers. You watch Boston hit this scenario after Paul Pierce’s last season, you watch!

1993: Orlando receives the number one overall pick (Chris Webber, who they would trade to Golden State for Anfernee Hardaway’s draft rights and three future 1st-round picks) for the second straight year (Shaquille O’Neal last year). This occurred while Orlando went 41-41 the previous season and had the lowest lottery odds in NBA history. Why? Because everyone loves Florida!

1997: San Antonio (hello again!) receives the number one overall pick (Tim Duncan) after David Robinson suffered a season ending injury. This occurs considering that the Spurs were in the western conference finals two years ago and had a past his prime, yet still effective, Dominique Wilkins. Two years later, Duncan, Robinson and leftovers from that very western conference finals team in Avery Johnson and Sean Elliott became NBA Champions. Hmm.

1999: Chicago received the number one overall pick (Elton Brand) a full season after the Jordan-Pippen era finished. Why? Because every basketball fan is so heartbroken to see a once great franchise fall on such hard times so fast. Boo hoo. We don’t care if Chicago always finds a way to be cheap (see Omer Asik and Scottie Pippen). It’s just so sad.

2002: Houston received the number one overall pick (Yao Ming) the season after Hakeem Olajuwon’s final year as a Rocket. Also, after winning two Championships and 14 playoff trips in 15 years, Houston missed failed to make the playoffs the last two years until that selection. They needed a change for a consistently well-run basketball franchise.

2004: Orlando (hello again!) received the number one overall pick (Dwight Howard). Why? Once again, because everyone loves Florida! Also, Orlando had to trade away Tracy McGrady to Houston that included Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines for Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato. As you can see, we feel sorry for an NBA team when the soul reason they are popular wants to get out of town.

2006: Toronto finally receives the number one overall pick (Andrea Bargnani) a season and a half after trading away their best (and most hated) player in franchise history in Vince Carter. A funny thing. Did you know that when Vancouver and Toronto joined the NBA in 1997, they were not allowed to receive the number one pick for three years? Yes, it’s true! So, Orlando had the number one overall pick two years after their existence and two more times before Toronto ever had one?! No, of course this is a fair and balanced system.

2008: Chicago received the number one overall (Derrick Rose) with the second lowest odds in NBA history. Why? Because we want the Jordan era back!!!

2010: Washington receives the number one overall pick (John Wall) after Abe Pollin passed away and every NBA owner could not stop singing his praises. Yes, that is what we as human beings due when loved ones pass away, but this is the same Abe Pollin who gave Gilbert Arenas a ton of money WHILE he was suffering career ending knee injuries and had the likes of Michael Jordan, Wes Unseld and Ernie Grunfeld running the basketball operations. The lesson? Sympathy always helps.

2011: Cleveland received the number one overall pick (Kyrie Irving) after losing Lebron James to free agency in the most embarrassing fashion of my lifetime. Add the fact that Dan Gilbert could not stop whining like a toddler about small market teams not having a chance to compete during the lockout (let’s ignore the fact that LeBron never had any All-Star level talent around him in his entirety as a Cavalier) and he earned himself a pacifier that is the number one overall pick.

2012: New Orleans received the number one overall pick (Anthony Davis) after losing Chris Paul in a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers (let’s ignore that the NBA owned the Hornets at the time and blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers days after the NBA lockout was over talking about…how to keep the small market (or stupidly run) teams as competitive as the big market teams).

2013: Orlando or Phoenix will receive the….oh wait it hasn’t happened. But after you look at this trend, you know it will happen. wasting your livelihood and assume that this will happen starting now, please? Please?! Until I see that gimmick/fools gold that is those ping pong balls or any other method the NBA uses is shown on television for everyone to see, I’ll never trust that the draft lottery system is operated legally. As you can see, teams we feel sympathetic for almost always win the lottery. And if they don’t win the lottery, it’s just so the NBA can through us off the scent. So please media, stop

Now, on to the NHL draft lottery.


How did they get here: Columbus has been consistently bad and poorly run while never took advantage of the Rick Nash era. However, picking up Sergei Bobrovsky turned out to be a steal didn’t it. Also, the Blue Jackets and the Rangers made two of the most fascinating trades in the 2012-2013 by dealing Rick Nash but then dealing Marian Gaborik at the midseason trade deadline. In short, Columbus received Tim Erixon, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, New York’s 1st round pick and Marian Gaborik and New York received Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Columbus’ 6th round pick and Rick Nash. 

Will they get the number one overall pick: Bettman could pull the 2008 NBA draft route here but last time I checked, no casual NHL fan will remember the Nash era like the Jordan era.


How did they get here: Like Columbus, Being consistently bad and poorly run, but this time never took advantage of the Ilya Kovulchuk and Marian Hossa era. Unlike Columbus, they moved to Canada as a result. Winnepeg has some interesting players in Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Ondrej “Only Pekka Rinne has played more games than me in the last two years, but don’t deserve it” Pavelec, Dustin Byfuglien. Also, the man with the most unfortunate name in hockey could be among the most underrated defenceman.

Will they get the number one overall pick: They might be a dark horse to make the playoffs next year, but I don’t see how they can get the number one overall pick to help them get there. The Canadian government might send them back to Atlanta outside of Gary Bettman’s orders if they get it.


How did they get here: They had a dream season in 2012 by making the Western Conference finals in a year where scoring reached its lowest since 2004. That is perfect for the Coyotes considering their best offensive player is 36 years old and the only consistent face of the franchise since it’s existence. Unfortuntely, that PDO (5-on-5 shooting percentage plus save percentage) clock struck midnight for them despite shooting at a solid rate.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Erm, the NHL still owns them. No, this will not be seen as anything suspicious if they win the lottery.


How did they get here: Big City. Big mouth. Funny people. Big expectations. Maybe I have too many friends from my days at Penn State, but the more I watch the Flyers, the more I appreciate them. Sure, their fans will be biased to a shameful fault, but it’s not like they’re the only team that has this problem. Philadelphia still has a lot of great young forwards in this team and you can even argue that with Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson and another couple of ironman seasons in Kimmo Timmonen, you can certainly do worse on the blue line. A few bad injuries here and there did cost them, and a smart offseason could turn the ship around.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Still a hint out of reach for that pick (more on that later), but a sexy choice considering the tradition.


How did they get here: Remember that final sentence on my Mike Ribeiro piece about Dallas? Well, here it is again.

As history tells us, sometimes all it takes is signing Jaromir Jagr to learn that your team isn’t good enough.

Despite losing Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro, Brenden Morrow, James Neal and Brad Richards in a span of two years, the Stars still have among the better offenses in hockey this year thanks to solid scoring depth on all their lines. However, the PDO gods were smiling at them and unlike last year’s Phoenix team, Dallas has no elite defenceman to speak of.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Casual fans will remember the 1999 Stanley Cup Champions with the likes of Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Madano, Sergei Zubov and many more, but some will remember that team for the wrong reasons. Karma: it always hurts.

New Jersey

How did they get here: By getting older slowly but surely. The Devils are still partying like it’s 2003 with Martin Brodeur in goal and Patrick Elias leading the team in scoring. Not a lot of the under-25 year old players are stepping up to a level you think that they could lead the team and it took until last year’s playoffs for me to know who Bryce Salvador is. Add the fact that Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson and Mark Fayne are the only draft picks that have made an impact since Travis Zajac and you will understand why they are here.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Our first good sleeper pick. However, there is a chance that New Jersey will have to forfeit this selection as punishment for going over the cap to sign Ilya Kovulchuk.


How did they get here: Only Cleveland and maybe Kansas City can match Buffalo’s misery as a sports town and no one can match Buffalo’s poor chemistry and ownership for their hockey team. Jason Pominville is gone, who knows if Ryan Miller is next and this team hasn’t had any form of a world class defenceman since Alexei Zhitnik (and even that’s a stretch). At least Christian Ehrhoff lived up to his expensive contract this year, but Ville Leino (to the surprise of no one) has not. Cody Hodgson has lived up to expectations, but neither has Tyler Ennis, Tyler Myers or Nathan Gerbe. Finally, Lindy Ruff is gone, but neither is Steve Ott.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Oh boy! Just a depressing hockey team to root for. There is a chance, but as you can see with the NBA, sports have never taken kindly to badly run franchises.


How did they get here: By losing games on purpose.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Sure. Because the NHL gives it to them all the time, but let’s not think about it since they’ve had the number one overall pick the last three years already.


How did they get here: Oh Jay Feaster. You may have three first round picks, but that’s all in your bag of goodies outside of crummy prospects from the Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester trades. The fact that they did not have the worst record in hockey this year is beyond me.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Calgary has a shot, but again, badly run teams never get the number one overall pick.


How did they get here: By signing Alex Semin to a long term deal, that’s why!!! Actually, his point shares would have been the highest since 2009-2010 if it were an 82-game season. However, seeing Jeff Skinner regress, Jordan Staal having a terrible season despite poor puck luck, Cam Ward on injured reserve and a 35-year old point man in Joe Corvo as your best defenceman is a sight for sore eyes. Also, like last year, until Carolina gets major production from their depth players, they will never be taken seriously. 

Will they get the number one overall pick: Perhaps. People forget that the Hurricanes were in the  2002 and


How did they get here: By losing Ryan Suter, being forced to resign Shea Weber, kicking Alexander Radulov to the curb and forgetting how to score goals again. It also doesn’t help that the Predators have a history for losing big names to better pastures (hello Suter, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timmonen, Tomas Vokoun and Martin Erat).

Will they get the number one overall pick: Tough to tell. Everyone likes David Poile, but only because he’s a big name and not a great general manager. If they win, call this the 2010 Wizards version minus anyone passing away.

Tampa Bay

How did they get here: By having bad goaltending and defense all year. They do have Andrei Vasilevsky lying in wait at goal, and their blue line is better than one thinks in Matt Carle, Victor Hedman and Sami Salo. It’s everything outside of that and the famous top forward line that make the Lightning that third worst team in hockey.

Will they get the number one overall pick: A great choice. I mean, you’re really telling me that the Art Ross trophy winner in Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos play on the wors


How did they get here: Unbelievable! Since the Bob Hartley era came to an end, the Avalanche have drafted some fascinating prospects over the years to rebuild the dynasty. However, Tom Gilbert and Johnny Boychuk were traded away before they hit the big show. Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski never lived up to the billing. Finally, you really have to wonder if trading away Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk for the worst #1 overall pick in the post-lockout era in Erik Johnson up there among the dumbest transactions. Only David Jones and maybe T.J. Galiardi have been substantial mainstay keepers and boy is that a reach! That leaves us with Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duschene. Not a single one in that group is over 22 years old and they have no choice but to lead this hockey team. Add the fact that Colorado has not been a top-ten defensive unit since that Bob Hartley era and you are looking at a franchise that needs Seth Jones more than any team in the NHL.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Another perfect choice for the number one overall pick because of the rich hockey history, and enough fans that remember the great late ’90s-early 2000s Avalanche teams with Sakic, Patrick Roy and Peter Forsberg. Yes, this is a stretch, but if you add Seth Jones, there is a chance Colorado becomes the next set of young guns like the Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom quartet five years ago.


How did they get here: By being themselves. No one is a potential superstar outside of Jonathan Huberdeau and maybe Jakob Markstrom because hockey’s-future.com always rates him the best goalie prospect. As soon as someone looks like an impact player, they get traded away or go somewhere else. Just ask Nathan Horton, Jay Bouwmeester, Bryan McCabe, David Booth and Tomas Vokoun. The fact that this hockey team hasn’t been contracted or moved to Quebec City is beyond me.

Will they get the number one overall pick: They won’t. It’s too easy of a pick. Oh, and for hockey, no one likes Florida.

“OK. Enough of your usual 2,500+ word, garbage. Who wins this stupid thing” says your brain.

The last point I will make is we need to compare the NBA draft lottery odds to the NHL’s.

Seed NBA Odds NHL Odds Difference
1st 25 25 0.0
2nd 19.9 18.8 -1.1
3rd 15.6 14.2 -1.4
4th 11.9 10.7 -1.2
5th 8.8 8.1 -0.7
6th 6.3 6.2 -0.1
7th 4.3 4.7 0.4
8th 2.8 3.6 0.8
9th 1.7 2.7 1.0
10th 1.1 2.1 1.0
11th 0.8 1.5 0.7
12th 0.7 1.1 0.4
13th 0.6 0.8 0.2
14th 0.5 0.5 0.0

As you can see, the NHL’s odds make it more lenient for better teams to get the number one overall pick. In the NBA’s draft lottery history, only the 1993 Orlando Magic and 2008 Chicago Bulls have won it without being in the top-seven worst records in the league. Team’s outside of that only get an 8.2% chance of getting the number one overall pick. The NHL, on the other hand, has a 12.3% chance. Anything can happen, but I still take Colorado by a nose, only because no one likes Florida.

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