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The Calgary Flames missed the 2nd overall selection by a single ping pong ball… three times

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Ryan Pike
1 month ago
The National Hockey League conducted its annual draft lottery on Tuesday evening, with both the official drawings for the first and second overall selections and the televised announcement of the results emanating from NHL Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. For the first time in awhile, the draft order didn’t change at all, with the San Jose Sharks getting first overall and the Chicago Blackhawks getting second overall.
The Calgary Flames narrowly missed moving up to the second overall selection by a single ping pong ball… three times.
So here’s how the lottery actually works: 14 numbered ping pong balls go into a tumbler, with four balls drawn at random at 20 second intervals. The league looks up the four-number combinations associated with those balls and whichever team has been assigned that combination wins that drawing. They conduct two draws, with teams having a chance to move up a maximum of 10 spots in the draft order, as part of the process to determine the first and second overall selections in the NHL Draft.
The first draw, for a potential first overall spot, saw 10, 2 7 and 11 drawn in that order. The four-digit combination 2 7 10 11 was assigned to San Jose, and they were assigned first overall. (It wasn’t a big surprise: San Jose had a 25.5% chance of drafting first overall; 18.5% from their own number combinations and 7% from the number combinations of teams that couldn’t move up more than 10 spots to first overall.)
After the first three balls were drawn – 10, 2 and 7 – five of the 16 lottery teams still had a chance to win on the remaining 11 balls, though San Jose had five possible winning balls to be drawn. (One of them, 11, was selected.) The Flames weren’t in the mix.
The second draw, for a potential second overall spot, was actually three separate draws, with the Flames in the mix until the bitter end for all three of them – three times, one ping-pong ball away from second overall.
  • Attempt 1 at the second draw saw 2, 8 and 4 drawn. The Flames would have won if 13 was the last ball selected. Instead, 11 was selected, finishing one of San Jose’s combinations and triggering a re-draw. (Eight teams had a chance of winning on the final ball.)
  • Attempt 2 at the second draw saw 14, 11 and 3 drawn. The Flames would have won if 8 was the last ball selected. Instead, 9 was selected, finishing one of San Jose’s combinations (again) and triggering another re-draw. (Six teams had a chance of winning on the final ball.)
  • Attempt 3 at the second draw saw 6, 11 and 3 drawn. The Flames would have won if 7 was the last ball selected. Instead, 14 was selected, finishing one of Chicago’s combinations and cementing them at second overall. (Seven teams had a chance of winning on the final ball.)
In all three second draws, the Flames had their 5% chance of winning the draw upgrade to 9.1% before the final ball was selected… and somebody else won. As a result, they will draft at 9th overall when the 2024 NHL Draft takes place on June 28 & 29 in Las Vegas.
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