The New Jersey Devils ended their 2016-17 season with three wins out of their last 24 games. They were sellers at the trade deadline. They didn’t deserve to do anything in the standings but fall - and they finished with the fourth worst record in the NHL. The tanking feeling was so strong, I added a Race to 28th section to the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshots and gave a regular section to a pro-tank fictional character: Sherman Abrams. Tonight is his reckoning. Tonight, we will see a result of all of those ‘L’s. Tonight, we will learn along with the rest of the NHL scene where the Devils will end up picking in the first round. Tonight, is the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery.
The Time: TV coverage in Canada starts at 7:30 PM EDT; NBC will join in at 8 PM EDT. the lottery results will be announced after 8 PM EDT.
The Broadcast: TV - NBC, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA, Stream - NBCSports.com
The Process: There will be three lotteries for each of the top three selections in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. 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. This lottery will be supervised by a third-party to ensure the credibility of the drawings. The drawing itself is a combination of four numbers. Each team is assigned a set of four numbers. Whatever comes out of the lottery is checked against that chart and that’s how the winners are decided.
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 selection. 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, and so forth.
The broadcast will announce the teams in reverse order. Therefore, it’s important to note who suddenly isn’t in the same spot. For the same reason, you should want to not see the Devils logo until the end of the results.
The Past: The New Jersey Devils have won one lottery in their franchise history. It was back in 2011 when the lottery was solely for the first overall pick and the winner of the lottery would move up a maximum of four spots. The Devils were eighth from last in that year, so the lottery win moved them up to fourth overall. They selected Adam Larsson with that pick. Which was worth Taylor Hall last June.
HockeyDB has a year-by-year history for all NHL teams. The Devils have never selected first overall; although the Colorado Rockies did in 1979 when the picked Rob Ramage. All three teams did have at least one second overall pick in their histories. The Kansas City Scouts picked #2 twice: Wilf Paiment in 1974 and Barry Dean in 1975. The Rockies picked Barry Beck at second overall in 1977. New Jersey did have the second overall pick twice with more notable selections: Kirk Muller in 1984 and Brendan Shanahan in 1987. The Devils have drafted at third overall three times: Craig Wolanin in 1985, Neil Brady in 1986, and Scott Niedermayer in 1991. It’s been a while since the Devils have picked so high in the first round. Perhaps this lottery will change that.
- First overall - 8.5%
- Second overall - 8.7%
- Third overall - 8.8%
- Fifth overall (stay the same position they finished in) - 7.2%
- Sixth overall - 33%
- Seventh overall - 28.7%
- Eighth overall - 5.2%
The Devils cannot move up one space to fourth overall at this time. They cannot fall lower than eighth unless they trade down further.
While the odds are higher that the Devils will fall at least one spot, I would not be so worried. Every team has higher odds of falling in the draft than not. Even this season’s 30th place team Colorado has a better than 50% chance of dropping out of the top three (51.4%, to be exact). Three of the fifteen non-playoff teams will win the lotteries; someone will rise. It’s fifteen this year because Las Vegas is joining the league next season. They have been granted the odds equivalent to a team finishing 28th in the NHL.
As the prospects’ leagues are wrapping up, there’s more of a reason to get excited for the 2017 draft class. Unless I’m mistaken, the only prospect-laden competitions still going on are the three Canadian major junior leagues. They are deep in their playoffs and that will be followed by the Memorial Cup. It has remained true that this year’s class doesn’t have a sure-fire #1 player (yet) and there is no “The Next One,” available. Regardless, it’s evident that there are good, talented young men to be picked and that will be clearer as more and more people look more closely at players and what they can do. Anyone who is in the top ten will likely get a very good prospect at a minimum. Fortunately, the Devils will be picking in the top ten.
The Reckoning: That said, even Sherman Abrams’ most die-hard supporters are nervous for this day. His watching of the standings was all predicated on the hopes of a high draft pick. That was the justification: losing tonight for a bright tomorrow. The lottery does not care. The pessimists among the Abrams’ contingent are dreading that the Devils could be bumped down two or three spots. That would make the Devils’ awful slide to the depths where they finished the season feel even more painful. It would beg the question: What was it all for?
It’s not fair that Sherman Abrams and his support of tanking will be judged based on a randomly selected set of four numbers. Life isn’t fair either.
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 just a diversion.
The Rules: Site rules apply as usual. Expect to see a recap of sorts after the lottery dust has settled.
As far as our prospect profiles, expect to see those starting in the coming month. I do have a fun overview about them amid a post about preparing for draft season that should be up tomorrow, so please look for that. Go lottery!