2020 NHL Draft Lottery: Open Thread

Will the new Buffalo Sabres GM start off with a slice of good fortune?

What Is It?

There is precious little for Buffalo Sabres fans to be interested in hockeywise during the extended break, but tonight is one of those few moments that could provide us with a glimmer of hope.

The draft lottery is the process by which the NHL selects the order for the NHL Entry Draft; to discourage ‘tanking’ they have added a lottery process so that the bottom team in the league is no longer guaranteed first pick. However, the odds of winning that first pick are cascaded so that the worst team in the league (in terms of points won) still gets the best shot at that top spot.

How Does It Work?

With the regular season curtailed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are some changes in how the lottery will be conducted. The lottery will be conducted in phases, with the first drawing of the First Phase to find which team will be selecting first in the draft, a second drawing for the team to pick at No. 2, and a third for the team to select at No. 3.

The bottom seven teams, with the Sabres at seventh, are favored to win the first three drawings. However, if any of the other eight teams that are in the Playoffs play-in spots win any of the drawings, then a Second Phase will be conducted among the eight teams that will be eliminated in the qualifiers, all with equal odds.

Note, the Second Phase will not be conducted tonight, with a provisional placeholder set for sometime between the end of the qualifiers and the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, even though there has been no set date as yet for play to begin.

NHL announce format for Draft Lottery & Playoffs
Kevyn Adams makes his first moves to reshape the Sabres front office

What Are The Odds?

There has been no change from last season as far as the progressive probability system whereby the odds for teams not selected successively increase for the second and third picks.

Detroit Red Wings — 18.5%
Ottawa Senators — 13.5%
Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks) — 11.5%
Los Angeles Kings — 9.5%
Anaheim Ducks — 8.5%
New Jersey Devils* — 7.5%
Buffalo Sabres — 6.5%
Qualifier Team A — 6.0%
Qualifier Team B — 5.0%
Qualifier Team C — 3.5%
Qualifier Team D — 3.0%
Qualifier Team E — 2.5%
Qualifier Team F — 2.0%
Qualifier Team G — 1.5%
Qualifier Team H — 1.0%

*New Jersey received better lottery odds than Buffalo because it had a worse ROW percentage (.348, compared to Buffalo’s .406).

For the Sabres specifically:

Best case odds of getting a top three pick will be 22.92%

[‘#1’ pick 65/1000] + [#2 pick (if DET gets #1 pick) 65/865] + [#3 pick (if OTT gets #2 pick) 65/730] = 22.92%

Worst case odds of getting a top three pick will be 19.73%

[‘#1’ pick 65/1000] + [#2 pick (if Team H gets #1 pick) 65/990] + [#3 pick (if Team G gets #2 pick) 65/975] = 19.73%

The odds are based on a determination of how many out of a 1,000 possible combinations of four balls from a 14-ball lottery machine. For those who are really interested, here are the lookup tables for the balls as they are drawn.

How To Watch

Time: 8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST
Canada: Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now (English), TVA Sports (French)
Online: NHL.tv

What Comes Next

With no set dates for return to play, there is still no confirmation of when the NHL Entry Draft will be held, or where and when the NHL Scouting Combine will be held.

For Buffalo, knowing where they will be picking will allow new General Manager Kevyn Adams to build his depleted staffing up while also devising a strategy on how to attack free agency, the draft and next season, whenever it starts.

Live Blog

It’s 8:02pm EST and here we go, it’s basically Kathryn Tappen telling you all the things written above.

After a quick look at all six of the GMs (including Kevyn Adams) sitting in their living rooms/home offices, we’re now seeing first responders from some hockey cities throughout North America, with Kimberly Sweeney of Roswell Park Cancer Center representing WNY.

It’s so strange to see Gary Bettman speaking on television without the accompanying booing.

Drama! One of the eight teams in the playoffs has climbed into the top three!

8.. Buffalo Sabres. No luck whatsoever for Adams.

7.. New Jersey Devils.

6.. Anaheim Ducks.

5.. Ottawa Senators. They have one more pick, this is their own pick.

4.. Detroit Red Wings. Disaster for Detroit, as they fall right out of the top three! They tanked for.. basically nothing. Ouch.

Ad break. Meanwhile the sounds of teeth gnashing and mournful wailing from Michigan are carrying clear across Lake Erie. Imagine if that had happened to Buffalo when we picked Rasmus Dahlin!

3.. Ottawa Senators. Two picks in the top seven and somehow they come away with #3 & #5.

2.. Los Angeles Kings.

1.. ???!!! And that means, the top pick will go to one team that gets eliminated in the play-in round of the as-yet-unscheduled playoffs.