Who will win the 2014 NHL draft lottery?

Rick Madonik/Toronto Star

Rick Madonik/Toronto Star

If you read my post about last year’s draft lottery, you will remember how stupid I thought having all fourteen non-playoff teams getting a chance at the number one pick is. It was further proof that Commissioner Gary Bettman would stop at nothing to make sure that the NHL resembles the NBA. If we were to assume that this is indeed true, we will assume that the NHL team that receives the number one overall pick is the same as the NBA team that wins the number one overall pick in their draft lottery. In short, it is the team that the league offices feel the most sorry for.

The Cleveland Cavaliers received that spot in last year’s NBA lottery because David Stern felt bad for a city that lost the greatest athlete they have seen since Jim Brown and the greatest basketball player since Michael Jordan in LeBron James. This came three years after leaving his hometown team in a fashion that was like a proverbial middle finger and now he has two NBA titles. For the NHL, I guessed correctly that Colorado would get top pick because the days of the early 2000s teams are slipping further away into NHL fans’ memory banks.

We continue with the same process of predicting who will be the big winners of the NHL draft lottery, but it may be the last time we see the draft lottery under their current winning odds. According to Elliot Friedman, there were discussions about changing the lottery odds as early as 2015 so that it can prevent teams from tanking the season on purpose for once-in-a-generation talents Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid. The plan is to have the draft odds equal to how far teams in their respective standings positions are from making it to the playoffs. This is based on a five-year average of how close the non-playoff teams are to the worst playoff team for each of those five years.

It is certainly a novel concept, but two things stand in mind. First, would you pro-rate those margins during the 2013 48-game season to make sure the numbers are not skewed because of one outlier year? When Friedman tried to do the math in his article, it did not look like the case, but what if that is the biggest reason why teams like Buffalo and Florida will have weaker chances of getting the top pick instead of Washington and Phoenix? Speaking of which, wouldn’t this further favor teams that barely miss the playoffs into getting the number one pick, even if the 2013 season was adjusted into an 82-game season? If this idea was proposed for this year’s draft, here is how the odds would look like.

Points away from worst NHL playoff team
Rank
2014 2013* 2012 2011 2010 TOTAL Proposed probability
Current probability
Difference
17 1 0 2 -2 -2 -1 -0.1% 0.5% -0.6%
18 2 7 3 -1 -2 9 1.1% 0.8% 0.3%
19 3 7 3 2 -1 14 1.8% 1.1% 0.7%
20 3 10 4 6 0 23 2.9% 1.5% 1.4%
21 3 12 8 7 1 31 3.9% 2.1% 1.8%
22 7 12 8 8 4 39 4.9% 2.7% 2.2%
23 7 12 10 12 5 46 5.8% 3.6% 2.2%
24 8 17 11 12 8 56 7.1% 4.7% 2.4%
25 8 22 12 13 8 63 7.9% 6.2% 1.7%
26 12 22 12 19 9 74 9.3% 8.1% 1.2%
27 14 24 13 20 9 80 10.1% 10.7% -0.6%
28 24 26 14 21 11 96 12.1% 14.2% -2.1%
29 25 27 18 25 14 109 13.7% 18.8% -5.1%
30 39 32 27 31 26 155 19.5% 25.0% -5.5%

*-2013 margins are projected as if they were an 82-game season

As you can see, Friedman’s fears would come true as the three worst teams in the league would have a lesser shot of getting the top pick in the draft while the 5th through 11th worst teams have a substantially better shot. Also, the team closest to a playoff spot has negative odds of getting the top pick: GOOD! That’s proof why we shouldn’t EVERY team participate in this charade. Also, this is further proof that conferences and divisions in professional sports, let alone hockey, are up there among the most ignorant things ever made. Divisions and conferences have resulted in uneven scheduling, which has lead to having the regular season and playoffs become two completely different things from an analytical point of view. In my opinion, the NHL was actually more fun and contained more drama when the season was shortened to 48 games last year. Also, the level of skating and intensity throughout the entire postseason were significantly higher than in previous ones because the attrition from the regular season was not so massive. So why not have everyone in the league play 58 games (everyone plays each other twice, home and away) and then decide the top sixteen league wide? Oh right, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly run the league, I forgot. In the meantime, we have an 82-game regular season and a 14-team draft lottery.

Without further ado, here is the 2014 draft lottery preview.

Washington

How did they get here: Within five years, the Capitals went from being the hottest ticket in town and the team closest to restoring championship glory the likes of which this city hasn’t seen in a generation to an absolute embarrassment. Now Head Coach Adam Oates and General Manager George McPhee could be fired any minute and the team’s weaknesses that McPhee has observed over the past five years have turned into craters. This is still a young franchise (8th youngest weighted average and 4th youngest simple average according to quanthockey.com), but a few of Washington’s best players are turning 30 in two years. Time is running out for them to make an impact on this city, let alone win a Stanley Cup. More on this team later in the week.

Did they get the number one overall pick: No. Last night, I played with Edmonton’s draft simulator 100 times and the Capitals did not come up once to receive the top pick. The next team also did not pop up at any of those 100 times.

Phoenix Arizona

How did they get here: With the likes of Detroit and Pittsburgh constantly being injured and having to rely on their young prospects, Phoenix took over as the second oldest team in the league. In fact, this is the third straight year the Coyotes have been in the top five in this category. Keith Yandle is the Western Conference’s answer to Mike Green as he is seen as more of a fourth forward than a defender. Time and again he is used favorably on the offensive zone with not the best competition for a top tier defenseman and, if you want to use this stat (sigh!!!), was a -23 plus-minus on the season. In the forward ranks, Mikkel Boedker did break out nicely after he was signed to a cap friendly second contract in the middle of training camp and Martin Hanzal had the best season of his career. However, Phoenix is still relying heavily on Shane Doan and to the surprise of no one, Mike Ribeiro has been an initial disappointment. In a tough Western Conference, the Coyotes have to get younger and more talented fast.

Did they get the number one overall pick: There is a chance of sympathy after the franchise “grew up” by being sold to a new ownership group last August. That being said, they will join the NFLs Cardinals in having Arizona be a part of the team name. I know Glendale is not Pheonix, but the Redskins are in Landover, Maryland and you don’t see them becoming the Landover Redskins anytime soon, huh?

New Jersey

How did they get here: Retirement homes seem more vibrant than the 2014 Devils. They are by far, the oldest team in the league and may lose two of their most important players to either free agency or retirement in Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur. Even though the Devils were one of the better possession teams in the league, poor goaltending and shooting rates stunted any chance of them being a good hockey team. Adam Henrique hasn’t had the same assist numbers as he did two years ago and Damien Brunner’s shot rate fell off a cliff. Defensemen like Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill bring some hope but this team may become bad for quite a while.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Absolutely Not!!! Even if they did, the NHL has banned them from picking anywhere except for #30 overall in the first round because of the penalty they received from front loading Ilya Kovalchuk’s ridiculous 17-year deal in 2011. If they win the lottery, the NHL has to redo the process over again. So worst case scenario, tonight’s broadcast may last a little longer than expected. Thanks NHL for making things more complicated than they should!

Nashville

How did they get here: For the second straight season, the Predators stopped scoring. But unlike previous years, they also gave up more goals than their reputation suggests. Pekka Rinne was injured throughout the majority of the season, but he is now heading into his age-32 season with five more years to go on a $7 million cap hit. Plus if anybody feel like Carter Hutton is the long term answer, boy are they in trouble. One seriously has to wonder what the direction of this franchise would have been like if that 7-year, $49 million deal would have went to Ryan Suter instead of Rinne. Now they will have a new head coach who may or may not maintain the same “defense first” mentality under Barry Trotz.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Possibly. If Trotz was still around, could you have imagined him taking Aaron Ekblad with that pick and have him and Seth Jones together on the second line with Shea Weber and Roman Josi as the top pairing. I could feel my lungs suffocating thinking about it (just like Barry Trotz teams do to opposition offenses).

Anaheim via Ottawa

How did they get here: After having a miracle of a season last year, the Ottawa Senators fell back to Earth with their defense giving up shot after shot. The Senators did lose Sergei Gonchar to free agency, but Gonchar had by far his worst season since his rookie year and he may/should retire within the next 365 days. That being said, The real underrated loss is Andre Benoit. He was used very favorably with a 55.4% offensive zone starts last year, but that number dwindled to 48.4% this year and his goals and assist rates did not drop one bit at Colorado. Now he is seen as a bargain free agent this summer who had a cap hit of only $900,000. Erik Karlsson played a full season and still looks like his usual self, but Chris Phillips might be on his last legs. Getting a tall, stay at home bruiser will be the key for Ottawa to regain any traction of being a cup contender next year, but they will have to do so without this draft pick. That is because the Senators gave it up as part of the Bobby Ryan trade. Ottawa has the initial lead in the deal, but if this pick amounts to a top tier player, it may become the complete opposite.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Probably not. However, Anaheim put on a fantastic tear jerking performance when Teemu Selanne and Jean-Sebastien Giguere skated around an NHL rink as professional hockey players for one final time. If the Ducks do get the number one pick, I haven’t seen an audience so captivated and generous at the same time since Katniss Everdeen lit her dress on fire.

Winnipeg

How did they get here: The same thing like always has happened to the Jets since they moved to Winnipeg. Evander Kane is still Canada’s answer to Alexander Semin, “Winnipeg” and “great defensive unit” do not look like they will ever be in the same sentence, Dustin Byfuglien will never know if he is a forward or a defenseman and Ondrej Pavelec is getting worse in goal. But hey, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little are nice to watch. Also, Mark Schiefle has at least proved to critics why he was a former top ten draft pick, Grant Clitsome is an underrated building piece and Paul Maurice looks like a smart head coaching hire. Things still need to break right for them and all eyes will be on Kevin Cheveldayoff to really make some impactful moves that will take this team in the right direction.

Will they get the number one overall pick: There is a chance, considering that everyone asks time and again if a Canadian team will ever win a Stanley Cup again. This doesn’t seem like a good draft for defensmen, however, so this may not be the best draft for the Jets to move up.

Toronto

How did they get here: Another year, another collapse for a team waiting on it’s first Stanley Cup since 1967. Let’s have Sean McIndoe do the talking here.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Since the hockey world revolves around Toronto according to Leafs fans, I am sure the NHL will do something to make it happen.

Vancouver

How did they get here: So within four years, Vancouver’s Olympics became the first to be hampered by above freezing temperatures, the Olympic cauldron malfunctioned during the Opening Ceremonies, Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals happened, Roberto Luongo happened, John Tortorella happened, the Sedin Twins getting injured happened (they even get banged up together!!!) and the Ryan Kesler trade rumors happened. Best of all, Mike Gillis’ neck beard happened.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Nope. Never ever ever. Why? Because history shows us that no one in the NHL likes Vancouver.  It’s a real shame because it does seem like a nice city.

Carolina

How did they get here: Pretty much all that I have to say about this franchise was mentioned in yesterday’s post. There are nice pieces, but lack of depth, a farm system and a real front office are forever stunting this franchise.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Possibly. Carolina’s logo did pop up in the draft simulator more than ten times out of 100 and anyone out of Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett or Sam Reinhart can immediately be apart of the team’s top pairing or top line from day one.

New York Islanders

How did they get here: Let’s see. The Matt Moulson for Thomas Vanek trade happened and messed people’s minds. Then Vanek got traded, but still not at the amount they gave Buffalo for Vanek months earlier. Andrew MacDonald left with not as much as the Islanders would have liked and John Tavares tore his ACL during the Olympics. Oh, and Evgeni Nabokov is still their starting goaltender with no plan B in place. Also, Charles Wang might be gone soon and hey, the Islanders are moving to Brooklyn in 2015 and may have some shiney new uniforms, so that’s cool, right?

Will they get the number one overall pick: Say the Islanders get the top pick to go along with the nine total picks they will have. What happens if they are terrible again and would have to give up a very high first round pick to Buffalo in what is said to be one of the better drafts in recent memory and in which the Islanders will not have that many picks overall? Oh Charles Wang.

Calgary

How did they get here: To their credit, the fact that the Flames even got to 77 points was a miracle. In my Pacific Division preview, I mentioned that they were probably the worst team on paper. Instead, they got good contributions out of Mark Giordano, Jiri Hudler and even Mike Camalleri returned to shooting at a high rate. Also, T.J. Brodie and Kris Russell look like defensemen the team can build upon and Brian Burke was able to get a second round pick out of backup goaltender Reto Berra.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Wait, Calgary won a Stanley Cup and Lanny MacDonald was not their best player? Wait, Joe Nieuwendyk, Al MacInnis, Gary Roberts, Mike Vernon and Doug Gilmour was on this team? And that team had a dude named Hakan Loob on that team? And unlike Ray Bourque, Jarome Iginla is chasing a Stanley Cup in Boston instead of the other way around? Yeah, I think it’s time for Calgary to get a major superstar.

Edmonton

How did they get here: After a summer in which Edmonton set themselves up to win now, the Oilers basically capitulated. Nail Yakupov has become the poster child as to why no one in the NHL wants to have Russians on their franchise (no matter how racist that sounds and I absolutely wish this is false, it’s a known fact amongst fans and NHL circles and it seriously is killing any hope of the NHL to ever grow in popularity) and the defense and goaltending failed them once again. David Perron and Ben Scrivens have been nice additions, but the Oilers won’t have a second or third round pick to work with and they simply do not have a deep enough farm system in order to have a successful rebuild. After three straight years of having the number one overall pick, this is simply getting tiresome.

Will they get the number one overall pick: I really hope not. Let’s put it this way, there’s a real specific reason as to why we hate the draft lottery.

Florida

How did they get here: If you think New Jersey doesn’t look like they will have some young talent anytime soon, check out the Florida Panthers!!! Anytime a young  player tries to turn the franchise around, they seem to go bust and then some. Jonathan Huberdeau just could not shoot the puck well to save his life this year, Jakob Markstrom became damaged goods and who knows if Dmitry Kulikov and Eric Gudbranson will ever live up to their potentials. I really do fear for Aleksander Barkov. It’s things like these that time and again freak you out as a fan for this franchise and wonder if they’ll ever be good again. Until then, all the jokes from fans about wishing this franchise relocating become exponentially serious conversations every year.

Will they get the number one overall pick: Nope. Why? The lesson, as always, is that no one likes Florida.

Buffalo

How did they get here: Well, let’s have this tweet do the talking.

Will they get the number one overall pick: They have to right? It only makes sense. If you are curious, Buffalo popped up 31 out of 100 times when I used Edmonton’s draft simulator. Sure, Buffalo may also like to get a Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in 2015, but imagine them getting an Aaron Ekblad or Sam Bennett and have them alter the franchise from a team full of fast short dudes to a team that can suffocate and play two way that can rival Boston?

Who do I think will win the number one pick?

I really wish it would be the Islanders, just because I want to see all the hilarity behind it. Why not, I am picking them. Done!!! Make me laugh NHL!!! MAKE…ME…LAUGH!!!

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