clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

29th & 30th in the NHL will make all the difference in Draft

New, comments

Big draft permutations between the two positions, despite the rule changes.

Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid
Dennis Pajot

If you weren't 'all-in' on the tank brigade quite yet, this should change your mind.

When the NHL announced that they would be changing the draft rules for the 2015 and 2016 seasons a few months ago, Buffalo Sabres fans were worried that their odds of drafting Connor McDavid would be drastically shortened. That didn't quite happen for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, with the last place team's odds cut to 20% from 25% chance of winning the first pick.

League Position New Draft Lottery Odds Old Draft Lottery Odds
30 20.0% 25.0%
29 13.5% 18.8%
28 11.5% 14.2%
27 9.5% 10.7%
26 8.5% 8.1%
25 7.5% 6.2%

However, a part that no one is talking about is that the rules for 2015 actually encourage tanking for the last position, as there is a huge drop-off in odds when a team finishes in second-last position. THN's editor Brian Costello goes in-depth, but here are the highlights.

There are two once-in-lifetime players expected to come through in the next draft - Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Little more needs to be said about Newmarket, ON native McDavid that you don't already know. He has dominated headlines for a couple of years now whenever the 2015 Draft is mentioned. Buffalo fans even got to see him a few days ago when the Erie Otters took on the Niagara IceDogs at the First Niagara Center, and he didn't disappoint. Players like him are dubbed 'generational players', with Don Cherry of 'Hockey Night in Canada' fame calling him "a can't-can't miss guy. He's special."

Eichel is not as much-talked about as McDavid, but is a challenger for the No. 1 pick in his own right. Born ten months before McDavid in Chelmsford, MA, Eichel is probably the most skilled player ever in the USNTDP system, scoring at a two points per game clip in the USHL and off to a flying start with Boston University in the Hockey East Conference.

Now to the real math. The team that finishes last in the NHL will have a 20% chance of winning the first pick. The lowest a team can drop is one spot (as the Sabres found out last season, with the Panthers sneaking ahead of them), so then they have a 80% chance of getting the second pick. Which means the last place team has a 100% chance of picking a generational player - McDavid or Eichel - in the 2015 Draft.

The 29th-placed team has a 13.5% chance at first pick, and a 20% chance at second pick (if the last-place team wins the lottery). Should one of the #17-#28 teams win the lottery, it is quite likely the 29th placed team falls to third and misses out on both McDavid and Eichel (a 66.5% chance). With the 'one drop max', the last place team always has the consolation prize of picking Eichel (if McDavid indeed goes first), a benefit that no other team gets.

"Let’s use Buffalo and Carolina as examples (but any two teams will work) seeing they’re the most likely to be at the bottom of the standings. They’ll realistically be out of playoff contention by January. As the season draws into its final months and weeks, it’s going to behoove them to tank their remaining games in order to finish in the basement. Not near the bottom, but literally in 30th place."

Brian Costello (THN)

So what would you rather have then - a 100% chance of getting one of the two elite prospects, or a 33.5% chance? And what do you think Tim Murray and the Buffalo Sabres organization want, given those odds? Given the numbers, there's only one correct choice.