The date of the NHL Draft Lottery, what fans of the 15 teams who don’t make the playoffs wait for, has been announced and those fans won’t have to wait very long this season. The NHL has revealed that the lottery will be held on Tuesday, April 9th this season. The lottery has typically taken place much later in the month, but instead will come just three days after the end of the regular season this year.
As usual, the league notes that the lottery will take place in Toronto and will be nationally televised by NBC Sports, Sportsnet, and TVA. As opposed to last year, when the lottery took place over two separate sessions during playoff game intermissions, the event will return to being an independent hour-long show, beginning at 8pm ET.
As for the lottery odds, the league has opted not to change the odds that they used for last season’s draft lottery. The odds have frequently changed from year-to-year in the past, sometimes as a reaction to the results of the draw or, in last year’s case, to accommodate the addition of an added lottery team. However, after a draw last season that saw both the team with the worst record – the Buffalo Sabres – hold on to the top pick, as well as an exciting leap up the board by the Carolina Hurricanes, it seems the NHL is content to stick with it’s current format. Below are the odds at winning the first overall pick for each of the final spots in the league standings:
Each team’s odds at the No. 2 and No. 3 pick increase marginally after the first ping pong ball is selected. To explore these odds further or to run some simulations, check out this Lottery Simulator from Tankathon.com. As for draft lottery story lines to keep an eye on, the Colorado Avalanche continue to be the team to watch. As holder’s of the Ottawa Senators’ first-round pick, the Avs are likely to have the best odds at picking first. However, they themselves may also be a lottery team, which would only further increase their odds at the top pick and may even land them two top-four picks in the coming draft. The specific player “won” by the lottery winner is also becoming a more intriguing discussion; initially believed to be USNTDP standout center Jack Hughes beyond a doubt, there are now some rumblings that Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko could be the preference instead, mirroring the Nico Hischier–Nolan Patrick debate from two years ago. Only the team whose ping pong ball is lucky on April 9th will have to make that call, but it’s a tough decision that any club would gladly take.