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2021 NHL Draft Lottery & Early Draft Preview for the New Jersey Devils

Once again, the New Jersey Devils have relatively great odds in the NHL Draft Lottery. This post previews tonight’s draft lottery and offers a brief preview of who the top prospects in this year’s draft class.

2008 NHL Draft Drawing
It all comes down to the numbers to be randomly selected to determine the top 2 picks in this year’s draft.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images for the NHL

The New Jersey Devils have finished 29th out of 31 teams in last season’s truncated regular season. This means they have better odds than all but three teams in this year’s NHL Draft Lottery. You may be tired of caring about it. You may wish the days of cheering on the team to gain more lottery ball combinations are over soon. You may want the Devils to at least not have a double-digit chance at winning them next year. I hear you. I understand you. Hopefully, you will get you want in the near future. But tonight, it is what it is. Once again, we shall wonder whether the lottery will favor the New Jersey Devils or at least not favor their hated rivals.

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Location: The NHL Network studios in lovely Secaucus, New Jersey

The Broadcast: TV - NBCSN

The Song for the Night: Sometimes, waiting for the results to be announced can feel like an odyssey. It truly is not, but it can feel that way. To that end, a funky instrumental may be worth listening to fill in the time and/or get down to. Something like “Disco Ulysses” by Wulfpeck.

The Lottery Process: It has changed a little bit from last year. There will be two lotteries for each of the top two selections in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The first drawing will be for the first overall selection and the second drawing will be for the second 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 to determine who owns the set of numbers. They are the winners of that lottery.

If a team that wins a lottery but they also won on a previous drawing, then that drawing will be re-done. A team cannot win more than one selection; three separate teams shall the three lottery drawings. The twelve teams that did not win a drawing will be drafting in the first round in reverse order of their standings. This means the worst team that did not win a lottery drawing will draft at fourth overall, the second worst that did not win a drawing will draft at fifth overall, and so forth.

The broadcast will announce the teams in reverse order. This is important. If you see a team that is not in the order of the standings, then you know they won one of the two lotteries. Therefore, you do not want to see the Devils logo until towards the end of the announcements.

Of note, Seattle is automatically in the lottery with the third best odds to win the lottery for first overall. They cannot select lower than fifth overall, which can happen if teams below Seattle win both drawings.

Also, Arizona has to forfeit their first round pick as part of the punishment for working out prospects outside of the scouting combine window. Instead of removing Arizona and re-calculating the odds for 15 teams, Arizona will be a part of the lottery drawings. If they win either drawing, then lottery will be re-drawn.

Wait - What About a Limit On Lottery Winners?: There is no limit on any of the 15 non-Arizona teams in the lottery to win this year’s lottery. Any of them can win it.

Next year’s draft lottery will have two new limits imposed to make the lottery favor the poorer performing teams of that season. The first is that a team that wins the lottery can move up no more than 10 spots. This means anyone who finishes 11th from last or better cannot win first overall. The second is that a team cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year period.

The Devils’ Draft Odds: From Tankathon, here are the odds for where their first round pick will be in this year’s draft order:

  • First Overall: 10.3% (Same as Seattle)
  • Second Overall: 10.2% (Same as Seattle)
  • Fourth Overall: 11.5% (No movement)
  • Fifth Overall: 43.9% (One team that finished ahead of the Devils won a lottery)
  • Sixth Overall: 24.2% (Two teams that finished ahead of the Devils won the lotteries)

The reason why the odds are more in favor of the Devils dropping a spot is due to sheer volume. 11 teams finished ahead of the Devils in the league standings. That’s 11 teams that have to miss both lotteries for the Devils not move down. That being stated, the Devils are guaranteed to pick higher than they did last year and should have a shot at the upper end of this draft class.

Of course, if you want to simulate the lottery yourself to get a sense of what could happen or just to kill some time, then Tankathon has you covered.

The Devils’ Picks as of June 2, 2021: The Devils currently own eight picks for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Positions for rounds 2 through 7 come from The Draft Analyst’s list. Trade information was confirmed through CapFriendly.

  • NJ’s first rounder: 1st to 6th, will be determined by tonight’s lottery drawing
  • The Islanders’ first rounder: 20th (technically 19th as Arizona’s pick is forfeit) or 29th to 32nd. This is dependent on the playoffs. If the Islanders get eliminated in the second round, then the pick improves by a spot. (Thank you for choking, Toronto) If the Islanders beat Boston in the second round, the pick will go down to 29th overall - and could go even lower should they go all the way. So, go Bruins. This was acquired from the trade that sent Travis Zajac & Kyle Palmieri to the Island.
  • The Islanders’ second rounder: 53rd overall. This was acquired from the Andy Greene trade last year.
  • New Jersey’s third rounder: 68th overall
  • New Jersey’s fourth rounder: 100th overall
  • Buffalo’s fifth rounder: 129th overall. This was acquired from the Wayne Simmonds trade last year.
  • New Jersey’s sixth rounder: 164th overall
  • Arizona’s seventh rounder: 203rd overall. This was acquired from swapping seventh rounders last year. New Jersey gave them 192nd overall last year, so the Devils have this one in return.

The Devils’ Prospect System Needs: Brian wrote a good post last week about what kind of prospects would best supplement the current plethora of young players in the organization. Please check that out to see what needs the team may have for prospects.

The Early Thoughts of the 2021 Draft Class: In general, I would call the 2021 class iffy. Drafting 17 to 20 year old players is enough of a challenge. Throw in the fact that not every league played a normal season (or at all in the case of the OHL), most scouts were forced to watch players remotely, and even international events were cutback, and it is even harder to identify who is the best among this age group. I am sure there are good players in this class. Players that will become significant for several teams in the future. But there is a lot more risk than usual in terms of figuring out which players have skillsets that will blossom in a professional career and how much they will blossom. There will be players picked in the first ten or fifteen picks that have concerns or questionable upsides that would ordinarily keep them out of the top ten or fifteen picks in other years.

With his recent bump to big minutes in the World Championships, I would not be surprised if defenseman Owen Power becomes the consensus #1 pick among the pundits, services, and fans who follow prospects. He showed up real well in his first season at Michigan, he has a huge NHL frame already, and he does a lot of things one would want in a modern, big-minute playing defender. However, this draft lottery may be a bigger determination of who the #1 pick is this season. Should, say, Anaheim win it, would they really go for Power after recently picking Jamie Drysdale? Especially with a three-zone machine like Matt Beniers, who also was a standout freshman at Michigan with Power as well as the WJCs? Or a dynamic winger like William Eklund, who produced quite a bit for a draft eligible player in the SHL? Who is to say. But for the Devils, Power would probably be an acceptable (and expected?) first overall selection.

Brian went through all of the lottery teams and made his cases for whom each team would select should they win first overall tonight. Again, whoever goes first year could very well be driven by who wins tonight’s drawing for first overall. The same applies for who will go second overall.

For the Devils’ own first rounder, they will need to be familiar with the threesome of Power, Benier, and Eklund. They may fall out of the top three depending on who wins those first two picks. They would also do well to pay attention to USNTDP defenseman Luke Hughes (younger brother of The Big Deal, Jack Hughes), Barrie/HC Nove Zamky defenseman Brandt Clarke, Michigan forward Kent Johnson, Frolunda defenseman Simon Edvinsson, Edmonton winger Dylan Guenther, and Lulea goaltender Jesper Wallstedt among others. For their second first round pick, it will depend on how the playoffs work out, but here is a general group of players to get familiar with: Chicago forward Matthew Coronato, HV71 winger Oskar Olausson, Winnipeg/JYP defenseman Carson Lambos, Rimouski center Zachary Bolduc, Brooks defenseman Corson Ceulemans, Malmo defenseman Anton Olsson, and Kamloops forward Logan Stankoven among others.

The Draft Profiles: They begin on this site tomorrow! They will be heavily focused towards the top end of this draft. I would not be surprised if players expected to go in the first round end up slipping and those expected to go later move on up. I really do think there will be a lot of variation in this year’s draft with not much argument against it because it could come down to who saw whom at different times and noticed different things.

The Discussion: Please feel free to discuss and react to the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery in the comments in this post. You may also discuss the 2021 draft in general in the comments as well. Discussion for the playoffs and the WCs should go to those respective open posts. Site rules apply as always. Keep all comments clean, stream-less, and respectful. Go lottery combinations!