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FGD: The draft lottery (yes, there’s a chance) (6pm MT, SN)

Friends, Friday night’s annual draft lottery is going to be weird. 14 clubs will be hoping that they land one of the top three selections in the 2020 NHL Draft, currently slated for October. But since eight of the lottery slots are reserved for the teams that lose in the upcoming Qualifying Round, those eight teams are technically contenders for the Stanley Cup and the first overall selection.

It’s Schrodinger’s Lottery, and it could be amazing. It goes 6 p.m. MT on Sportsnet.

So, you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Calgary Flames are one of the 16 teams with a date for the Qualifying Round – they’re facing Winnipeg. To get the first, second or third overall pick, here’s what needs to happen:

  1. The Flames need to lose to Winnipeg in the Qualifying Round.
  2. One of the Team A-to-H placeholders needs to win one of the three Phase A draws.
  3. The Flames need to win a Phase B draw.

The odds

Per the NHL, here are the basic odds for Phase A.

Team Odds
Detroit 18.5%
Ottawa 13.5%
Ottawa (from San Jose) 11.5%
Los Angeles 9.5%
Anaheim 8.5%
New Jersey 7.5%
Buffalo 6.5%
Team A 6.0%
Team B 5.0%
Team C 3.5%
Team D 3.0%
Team E 2.5%
Team F 2.0%
Team G 1.5%
Team H 1.0%

In Phase B, all Qualifying Round losers get the same odds. So, every team has a one-in-eight shot (or 12.5%) for any particular Phase B draw – though obviously there’s some contingent probability involved, too.

The odds of any placeholder team winning the first overall pick is 24.5% and so the odds of the Flames winning it is an eighth of that, or about 3.06%. But since the odds of the second and third overall picks being placeholders depend on which team wins the first overall draw, the math is a little bit messier – big stick-tap to Karim Kurji of The Win Column for help with the calculations! But there’s a 26.5% probability of a placeholder team getting the second overall slot and 29.0% of one winning the third overall slot. (For any individual placeholder club, that’s about 3.31% for second overall and 3.63% for third overall). Only about 37.6% of lottery scenarios have no placeholder teams winning at least one lottery pick.

Overall, there’s a combined 10% chance of any placeholder team – including the Flames – winning a lottery pick.

Give me the gist of it, please

If the Flames lose to Winnipeg, they have a 3.06% chance of getting the first overall selection and a 10% chance of drafting top three.

So, yes, there’s a chance.