It's amazing how things will change by Saturday night. Connor McDavid will know which NHL team he will belong to. The McDavid parents will know in which city their son's adult life will begin to unfold and flourish. Vendors will go crazy preparing McDavid jerseys, signs and apparel. (And make no mistake, McDavid will be the first overall selection in the June 26-27 NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. There will be zero drama with that pick.) The NHL's draft lottery will be televised Saturday night at 8 pm. The proceedings will begin about 7:30, but the drawing of lottery balls will take place about a half hour later. McDavid's most likely destination is a city other than Buffalo, but Buffalo has the best odds of all the 14 non-playoff teams. Here's how it works.
The NHL revised its draft lottery this year so that the last-place team (the Buffalo Sabres) have a 20 percent chance of winning (down from 25 percent in previous years). That means there's an 80 percent chance one of the other 13 non-playoff teams wins the lottery – ranging from 13.5 percent for 29th place Arizona to 1 percent for 17th place Boston. So the most likely outcome for the Sabres is they slip to second pick and choose Jack Eichel, a projected generational player, but not quite in the same class as McDavid, a budding superstar. In fact for each of the bottom four teams in the NHL standings – Buffalo, Arizona, Edmonton and Toronto in that order – their most likely outcome is to slip a spot in reverse NHL standings order – Buffalo from first to second, Arizona from second to third, Edmonton from third to fourth and Toronto from fourth to fifth (just marginally). The most likely outcome for the other 10 non-playoff teams is to stay put in reverse order of where they finished. See the chart below to see your team's percentage odds of nabbing one of two or three draft order picks.
None of the 14 non-playoff teams have traded their first-round pick. But seven of the 16 playoff teams have traded their first-round pick. Pittsburgh's pick belongs to Edmonton. New York Islanders' pick goes to Buffalo. Chicago's pick moves to Arizona. Nashville's pick belongs to Toronto. Tampa Bay's pick goes to Philadelphia. St. Louis' pick moves to Buffalo and New York Rangers' pick belongs to Tampa Bay. Order of selection from 15 to 30 is based both on NHL standings and playoff results.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN