NHL Draft Lottery ’21 Preview: Streams, odds, format
It’s not supposed to be as confusing and funky like last year. But when it comes to the NHL, who knows?
Steve Kournianos | 5/31/2021 | Nashville | [hupso]
NASHVILLE (The Draft Analyst) — After months of secrecy and speculation, the 2021 NHL Draft lottery will happen, finally. Scheduled for the night of Wednesday, June 2 at the NHL Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., the annual ping-pong-ball drawing to establish the draft order for the first 16 picks. The event will be administered by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman with representatives from each team observing the proceedings. The drawing itself will once again be conducted by employees of an independent accounting firm.
Unlike last year’s shutdown-driven hijinx that involved multiple phases and “ghost” teams with equal odds, the 2021 version of the lottery will be similar to the pre-pandemic versions, albeit with a few twists. The format of the drawing itself will remain unchanged, as each team will be assigned multiple number sequences with each sequence determined by four separate ball drawings.
The biggest difference from recent memory, however, will be the lack of a consensus top prize. Even with all the COVID-related weirdness of last year’s draw, teams still knew that winger Alexis Lafreniere was the undisputed choice for first overall. That certainly won’t be the case at this year’s draft, which takes place (in a virtual setting) on July 23-24, although defense prospect Owen Power from the University of Michigan appears to have the leg up on the rest of the pack.
There are several other notable prospects expected to go early as well. They include forwards Matt Beniers, Kent Johnson, and William Eklund, and defensemen Brandt Clarke, Luke Hughes, Carson Lambos, and Simon Edvinsson.
READ: The Draft Analyst’s Final 2021 Draft Rankings
We also know which 16 teams will be involved in the drawing, plus their corresponding odds. The addition of an expansion team from Seattle for the 2021-22 season not only increased the lottery pool by one but also fooled around with the odds to land the No. 1 or No. 2 pick. Yes, you read that correctly — the league will hold only two draws for the first two picks instead of the traditional three, meaning the team with the worst record (which in this year’s case were the Buffalo Sabres) can draft no lower than third overall.
Lastly, the Arizona Coyotes will in fact take part in the two lottery draws in spite of their 2021 first-round pick being forfeited. The Coyotes currently hold the No. 11 slot for the drawing but were forced by the NHL to surrender the pick as punishment for the illegal prospect workouts they were holding under former general manager John Chayka.
Therefore, if any of Arizona’s number sequences are pulled for the No. 1 or No. 2 pick, that drawing will be nullified and a re-draw will be conducted until a different team hits it.
All that said, here’s everything you need to know for the 2021 NHL draft lottery
When will the draft lottery take place?
- Date: Wednesday, June 2
- Start time: 7 p.m. EDT
The NHL likes to screw with their own fans by teasing the hell out of the drawing and dragging it out with analysis before the actual ping-pong balls get pulled. They used to do it on one of the days off between the first and second round of the playoffs, or in between periods of their marquee playoff matchup for that particular night. As of right now, the draw is slated to take place on Wednesday, June 2 at 7 p.m. EDT — 30 minutes before puck drop of Game 1 of the Canadian Division Final between Montreal at Winnipeg.
Where can I watch or stream it?
- TV: NBCSN (U.S.) | Sportsnet (Canada)
- Stream: Sportsnet Now (Canada) | OnHockey (Have an ad blocker, please)
When is the actual NHL draft?
- Date: July 23-24
- Where: Virtual
What are the lottery odds and how do they work?
The league uses a mechanical air-blowing lotto machine that jumbles 16 numbered ping pong balls (1-16). These balls don’t have team logos on them — just numbers between 1 and 16, and each ball dances and bounces inside the plastic air chamber, awaiting for an employee from the league’s accounting firm to release each numbered ball into the chamber. Do this four times, and you have yourself a four-number sequence that belongs to a team. Do two of these drawings, and there’s your NHL Draft lottery. The first drawing determines the owners of the first overall pick, the second identifies the team picking second overall.
READ: Learn how the 2021 NHL Draft lottery works
Example: The lottery-ball attendant draws each ball via a remote-controlled device that looks like the control unit on Darth Vader’s chest — three colored buttons, one which releases the numbered ping pong ball into the chamber. Each “drawing” is four presses of a button, with each press revealing a number. The order of the numbers after four presses — say, 2, 13, 4, 11 — is then scrubbed alongside a pre-determined list of team-assigned codes. The team that finished worse in the standings gets more code combinations; hence the draft lottery “odds”. For example, when the league says Buffalo has an 16.6% chance of winning the lottery, is just an easier way of saying the Sabres own 16.6% of the 1000 or so number combinations.
|4||New Jersey||.402||10.3% (+0.8)||45||15||19||19|
|7||San Jose||.438||6.7% (+0.2)||49||15||16||21|
|8||Los Angeles||.438||5.8% (-0.2)||49||19||20||21|
|16||NY Rangers||.536||1.0% (+0.5)||60||24||26||27|