Tonight is the most important night for the non-playoff teams of the 2015-16 season until the playoffs are actually over. It's the NHL Draft Lottery!
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Broadcast: TV - NBC and CBC
The Lottery: Unlike previous seasons, the top three picks in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft will each be subject to a lottery drawing. The first drawing will be the first overall selection, the second drawing will be for the second overall selection, and third drawing will be the third overall selection. If a team that won a previous drawing wins another one, then that drawing will be re-done so a team cannot win more than one pick. The teams that did not win a drawing will be drafting in the first round in reverse order of their standings: worst team that didn't win a lottery drawing will draft at fourth overall, the second worst that didn't win a drawing will draft at fifth overall, etc.
The actual lottery itself is a random drawing of four numbers, each marked 1-14. Teams are assigned certain combinations, equivalent to their odds in the lottery. This post at NHL.com has links to the actual look-up tables for all of the numerical combinations.
The History: The New Jersey Devils have won one draft lottery in the past. Back in 2011, the Devils finished with the eighth worst record in the league. They won the lottery drawing, which meant at the time that the Devils would only move up four spots for the first round. Winning the first overall pick was still limited to the bottom-five teams in the NHL. At fourth overall, the Devils would draft defenseman Adam Larsson. I'll have a brief review of that draft class tomorrow; although, I think most fans would agree that the Larsson pick was a very good one.
The Odds: Sorry, readers, but I'm telling you the odds. Well, I'm linking you to Micah Blake McCurdy, who calculated the odds a while back at Hockeyviz. Then I'm telling you what you need to know from that.
The Devils finished 20th overall in 2015-16. This means they have a 3% chance of winning the whole lottery, a 3.3% chance of winning the second overall pick, and a 3.6% chance of winning the third overall pick.
All together, that's an approximate 9.9% chance that the Devils would move up in the first round. Hence, the headline of this post. See the first comment from Frank, I can't add these percentages as I originally thought. The odds change slightly for each drawing depending on who wins them. My bad.
You should be super-happy if the Devils win any of these drawings as it means they may be coming away from Buffalo - hosts of the 2016 NHL Draft - with Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, or Jesse Puljujarvi. Any of them would be a fantastic selection for this team. FYI, per this Mike Morreale post at NHL.com, Devils director of scouting Paul Castron rates Matthews and Laine nearly the same.
Here's the bad news: it is more likely that they move back a spot than they move up in the first round. The chances of moving down to 12th overall in the first round is 15.9%. That would be a buzzkill, although not a cause to "throw things at a wall" or "fall to your knees and cry out 'Whyyyyyyyyyyy?' at the sky." One spot back still means the Devils would likely be picking from the same pool of players. At least the odds of moving back two spots are a much lower 0.6% and losing out the lottery to the 12th, 13th, and 14th worst teams of last season is possible but is so low that McCurdy rounded it to 0%. It's 0.003%, if you want to be technical.
The not-so-good but not-so-bad news is that the expectation should be that the Devils will stay where they are and pick 11th overall in the first round. This will happen with any combination of the ten teams below them in the standings winning the drawings. The odds of that are 73.6%. Again, don't be surprised or unhappy if the Devils end up staying still and drafting as if it was just an inverse of the points earned from last season.
The Simulator: There's a popular NHL Lottery Simulator here. It's the equivalent of playing the slots, it has no real bearing or meaning on the actual lottery. It's a nice diversion all the same.
The Rules: Site rules apply as usual. Should the Devils win one of these drawings, expect a separate post later in the evening. So cross your fingers for that. Please don't be salty if a certain orange-and-blue team from Alberta, Canada wins.
As far as our prospect profiles, expect to see those starting in May. Not next week, but likely the week after. Knowing how this goes will impact what we do anyway.