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Thoughts on the NHL Draft Lottery

Written by: Noah Foster


Wow. What an interesting night. The 2020 NHL draft lottery is certainly one of the most interesting in recent years based on format alone, but the teams that won each position made it even more intriguing. For those who missed it, here’s a rundown of the order:

  1. Team eliminated from the play-in round

  2. Los Angeles Kings

  3. Ottawa Senators (from SJS)

  4. Detroit Red Wings

  5. Ottawa Senators

  6. Anaheim Ducks

  7. New Jersey Devils

  8. Buffalo Sabres


Some important takeaways:

Detroit fell all the way down to the number 4 pick, even though they had the best odds at 18.5% to get the first pick. However, there is not much to worry about if you are a Red Wings fan. This year’s draft is extremely deep, so there is an almost guarantee that the Wings will pick a player who will help them come out of their rebuild.


These were the full odds to receive the first overall pick of the draft. Photo: Sportsnet


The Senators have two top-five picks, one courtesy of the Sharks from that infamous Erik Karlsson trade back in 2018. This means that the Senators, who are already starting to come out of their rebuilding phase, will be able to take two players who can accelerate their plans to becoming a playoff contender once more.


The Sabres, who after cleaning house in their front office, are still struggling to find help for Eichel. The number 1 pick in the draft certainly wasn’t a realistic chance, as they sat at 6.5% odds to win it, but they certainly would have liked to be as high as possible. Even in a deep draft, the Sabres need some serious help if they want to be contenders, and falling to the eighth pick does not do them any favors. Don’t be surprised if we don’t see Buffalo in the playoffs for years to come.



It looks like Buffalo’s woes will continue with them falling to the eighth pick in the 2020 draft. Photo: Bleacher Report


The best odds for a team eliminated from the play-in rounds before the draft to get the first pick were 6%. That, obviously, has turned into a reality. However, there is still a second phase to the draft lottery. Each team eliminated from the play-ins will have a 12.5% chance (1 in 8 chance) to be that team with the number 1 pick. There are some crazy scenarios that could come out of this. Imagine the Penguins, who are already a serious threat, getting the first overall pick. That would be terrifying for the rest of the league. But before you start to worry that teams are going to lose on purpose, remember that each team has the same 1 in 8 chance to win that number one spot.


Picks 9-15 will be assigned to the seven other teams that lose in the qualifying round. Picks 16-31 will be determined based on the results of the playoffs.


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