Tonight is the night where we will finally know where the New Jersey Devils - and everyone else who missed the playoffs - will draft in the first round. Tonight is the night where we will finally know who will be able to draft, Connor McDavid, possibly the best prospect since Sidney Crosby. Tonight is the NHL Draft Lottery, and the results will be televised.
As I pointed out in this post on Sunday, there is extra attention to this year's lottery due to the consensus #1 prospect for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. With all due respect to previous touted and actual first overall picks of prior seasons, McDavid is on another level. Just look at his profile at Elite Prospects. He was a point-per-game player in his first OHL season with Erie two years ago, back when he turned 16 midway through that season. He was playing and producing in international tournaments well before hitting the age maximum to be in those tourneys. McDavid will be in the NHL next season, it only comes down to who will get him. For a lesser team like Buffalo, Arizona, and (to an extent) the Devils, McDavid would be the centerpiece of a re-building project that could set the franchise up for success for years to come. For a team that was closer to the postseason, McDavid could turn a team that could make the 2015-16 playoffs without McDavid and with some lesser moves into a really scary squad to go up against. This is a big deal. As a result, the NHL has gone to extra lengths to show that the process is above board.
You can read the entire lottery procedure, with every team's odds at winning the lottery, at NHL.com. There are even links to the number combinations that would result in a lottery win. There will be a video of the actual drawing itself after the lottery results are announced. The lottery itself is overseen by a third party. Anyone who claims it was rigged because a team you don't like gets McDavid would simply be wrong. (Aside: I have no time for conspiracy theories.) Anything more than a zero probability means it's possible and with every team - even Buffalo - holding not even close to a high probability of winning, it is up for grabs. Here's a more complete table of what can happen to every team.
At 8 PM EDT, on NBC, CBC, and TVA, the results will be revealed. Representatives of the top five teams will be on hand, presumably for their initial reactions. Personally, I don't think this needs to become an annual event like the NBA Draft Lottery. That is a bloated show, dragged on with banal interviews with team representatives wherein they get asked about their chances as if they have anything to do with the drawing. For this year, I get it: McDavid realistically has the potential to be a superstar. Not every draft class has such a player and, therefore, does not need this much attention. But that's out of my hands.
My suggestion to you is that you check in at about 8 PM. You'll know very quickly who won the lottery. If it's New Jersey, then get hyped (or, if you're Mojo Rawley, stay hyped). If it's a team who finished worse than New Jersey, then the Devils will get a great prospect at sixth overall. If it's a team who finished ahead of New Jersey in the standings, then the Devils will get a great prospect at seventh overall. It'll take seconds to know this and it'll be known for months up until the actual NHL Draft in June, so don't let it take up or ruin a significant part of your evening.
Still, you can react to the lottery results and begin discussing potential draft picks for the Devils (e.g. Marner, Rantanen, Zacha, Meier, Barzal, etc.) here in the comments of this post. If you want to talk about the actual playoff games, then please do so in this post instead. Who knows, maybe a 7.5% shot at McDavid will be enough. We'll find out this evening. Thank you for reading.