NHL draft lottery changes make tanking for Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel a lot harder

Adam Gretz

The NHL has tweaked its draft lottery system with a couple of changes that will go into place over the next two years. Shooting for the No. 1 overall pick just got a little bit more difficult.

The NHL made trying to tank for Connor McDavid a little more difficult on Wednesday, announcing a couple of changes to the draft lottery system, one that will be put into place for the 2015 Draft, and another that will begin in 2016.

Starting in 2015, teams in the lottery with 10 best records will have a better chance of winning than they did under the old format, while the teams with the worst records will see their odds slightly drop. According to the league, this change will "more appropriately reflect the current state of competitive balance in the league."

Here is how the odds compare:

Lottery Team (Fewest Points to Most) New Odds Old Odds
1 20.0% 25.0%
2 13.5% 18.8%
3 11.5% 14.2%
4 9.5% 10.7%
5 8.5% 8.1%
6 7.5% 6.2%
7 6.5% 4.7%
8 6.0% 3.6%
9 5.0% 2.7%
10 3.5% 2.1%
11 3.0% 1.5%
12 2.5% 1.1%
13 2.0% 0.8%
14 1.0% 0.5%


Obviously, if you're the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames or any other team that figures to be at the bottom of the NHL standings pile, that's bad news if you were hoping to score a potential franchise player with the top pick in the draft. But for this year the team with the worst record in the NHL -- let's say, just hypothetically, that it's Buffalo -- is still at least guaranteed to pick no lower than No. 2 overall, where American-born Jack Eichel, the other prized prospect in the 2015 Draft, will be waiting to be picked.

So it's not the worst situation for a bad team to be sitting in.

Where things really start to change is in 2016.

It's there that the NHL will start using a lottery to determine each of the top three picks in the draft with three separate drawings. The first will determine the No. 1 pick, the second will determine the No. 2 pick, and the third will determine the No. 3 pick. That means that the team with the worst overall record during the 2015-16 season could end up picking as low as No. 4 overall in the 2016 Draft.

Once the three drawings are completed, the remaining teams in the lottery will pick based on their regular-season point totals from worst to best.

Whether or not the NHL actually has a tanking problem is up for debate. There have been several teams over the years that have consistently finished near the bottom of the league over several years and stockpiled top draft picks (Pittsburgh and Chicago if you go back a few years, and more recently Florida and Edmonton), but most of those finishes were probably more the result of inept management than some plan to intentionally stink. And even then, it hasn't always proven to be a recipe for success.