Draft, Ahoy

DRAFT, AHOY – A Look Into the Upcoming 2016 NHL Draft, Part 1
by Amy P.


Part 1

With Playoff Season on the horizon and absolutely zero Canadian teams advancing, it’s time to launch ourselves into the future to take a look at the next bright moment in a Canadian hockey fan’s timeline: the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Before busying ourselves with such descriptions or names as Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, here is an overview of our situation prior to the draft.


August 20th, 2014 marked the day when the NHL announced changes to the annual Draft Lottery, “a weighted system…[determining] the order of selection in the first round of the NHL Draft for the 14 Clubs not qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (or the Clubs that have acquired the first-round drafting positions of those non-playoff teams).”

In 2015, fans saw the first phase of changes take place. The 14 teams without a Playoff spot would have more equitable chances to nab the first overall pick, thus allowing teams with more points (and subsequently a lower draft ranking) a better likelihood to draft higher up, and giving teams with the fewest points lower odds.

That’s just a somewhat long and complicated way to say that teams who purposefully ‘tank’ or lose games might not benefit at the draft as much as they used to. This change is similar to a troll under a bridge screaming “you shall not pass!”; but, in this case, it’s a troll who looks eerily similar to Gary Bettman and his council of minions/authoritative figures.

This year, what should be the final alteration to this system will be implemented. While past Draft Lotteries determined only the winner of the top pick, 2016 dictates the year the Lottery will organize the top three winners of the Draft in three separate draws. In a nutshell, this essentially means the team with the fewest points isn’t guaranteed first or second overall pick, and could fall as low as fourth overall (which, granted, still isn’t terrible).

The full draft order hasn’t been concretely finalized, but as of Saturday morning on April 9th, Toronto, last in the league, had a 20% chance to pick first, Edmonton 13.5%, Vancouver 11.5%, Columbus 9.5%, Calgary 8.5%, Winnipeg 7.5%, Arizona 6.5%, Buffalo 6%, and so forth, with the lowest Canadian team’s odds being Ottawa’s at 2.5%. I ran the simulator myself 40 times, and concluded that Edmonton landed the (albeit simulated) first pick 17.5% of the time, Toronto and Vancouver had a 15% chance, Columbus had 12.5%, Winnipeg and Buffalo both had 10%, and Ottawa here actually had better odds than Calgary and Montreal, contrary to the initial percentages.

There’s no paramount need to understand what those numbers mean; I just regurgitated a million stats and my head hurts as well. The important idea is that right now there is a 68.5% chance a Canadian team will win the first overall pick. That is nothing if not insane.

Evidently, the more you run the simulator, the more the percentages change. Predictions are never completely accurate – something made clear by the fact that last year, going into the draw, Toronto had twice the odds of Edmonton of getting the top pick, Connor McDavid; yet Edmonton still won in the end. Of course, this might mean that for the Oilers, picking first is a miracle and a gift that keeps on giving. Will it stop giving before they have a full roster of first overall picks, though? Stay tuned to find out!

Part 2 of this Draft article series will include a snapshot of several of the top projected draftees, as well as the most coveted local Vancouver Giants player. Who will you pick as number one?