402018 NHL Draft
Photo Credit: Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

All about the draft lottery and draft order

The Calgary Flames haven’t been eliminated from post-season contention, but they’re likely to be mathematically out within the next week or so. Once the Flames are done and dusted, the next big order of business is the 2021 NHL Draft.

For the curious types, let’s go over how the draft order is determined.

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The non-playoff teams

For the purposes of this year’s draft, there are 16 non-playoff teams – that’s the 15 teams that played and missed the playoffs, plus Seattle. Picks 1 through 16 in each round are awarded to the non-playoff teams in reverse points order – the worst teams get the best picks. As with the regular season, the same tiebreakers apply. Except now, losing a tiebreaker gets you a better draft spot.

As of the morning of May 4, here’s how the order would shake out before the lottery. Because teams have played different amounts of games, we’re using points percentage for the order for illustrative purposes.

  1. Buffalo – .330
  2. Anaheim – .368
  3. Seattle* – n/a
  4. New Jersey – .394
  5. Columbus – .415
  6. Detroit – .417
  7. Ottawa – .433
  8. San Jose – .442
  9. Vancouver – .446
  10. Los Angeles – .460
  11. Calgary – .470
  12. Arizona** – .472
  13. Chicago – .481
  14. Philadelphia – .510
  15. Dallas – .538
  16. NY Rangers – .547

We don’t have odds yet for the draft lottery – they’re coming from the league in the next couple weeks – but Seattle will have the same odds as the third-worst team. The draft lottery only shuffles the first round via a pair of draws (for first and second spot), every other round reflects the standings order. Also, Arizona forfeited their first round pick as punishment for violating the NHL’s prospect testing protocols a couple years back. If they win either lottery drawing, it’ll be re-drawn.

The Flames have six games left. If they lose all of them, their points percentage will be .420. If they win all of them, their points percentage will be .526. It’s possible they could move fairly significantly up or down the draft order depending on the next few games, particularly four head-to-head games with Vancouver.

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The playoff teams

The order for the 16 playoff teams are also structured in reverse standings order, but with a few exceptions. The teams that lose in the first two rounds select first, with the teams that don’t win their divisions ordered first, followed by the teams that won their divisions (but lost in the first two rounds). The final four picks are always saved for the two conference final losers (29th & 30th), the Stanley Cup Final loser (31st) and the Stanley Cup champion (32nd).

Because we haven’t played the playoffs yet and don’t know who will make the conference finals or Cup Final, here’s a snapshot just relying on current standings order.

The teams that aren’t leading their divisions

  • 17. St. Louis – .550
  • 18. Montreal – .559
  • 19. Winnipeg – .559
  • 20 . Nashville – .566
  • 21. Edmonton – .640
  • 22. NY Islanders – .644
  • 23. Boston – .667
  • 24. Pittsburgh – .670
  • 25. Minnesota – .686
  • 26. Florida – .694
  • 27. Tampa Bay – .702
  • 28. Colorado – .720

The teams that are leading their divisions

  • 29. Washington – .683
  • 30. Toronto – .692
  • 31. Vegas – .725
  • 32. Carolina – .740

Where do you hope the Flames select in the first round? Do you have a player you hope the Flames land at the draft? Sound off in the comments!