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NHL Draft lottery set for Tuesday night; What are the odds and how does it work?

Apr 8, 2011, 4:18 PM EDT

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While most everyone is focused on the playoffs, there’s the other side of the coin for teams that are headed to the golf course. For those teams they’ve got the NHL Draft to look forward to at the end of June and for the teams that missed the playoffs, there’s one formality to take care of before that.

The NHL Draft lottery may not get quite the hype and publicity that it’s NBA brethren might, but the chances of a shakeup in the draft order are just as high. While the NHL lottery hasn’t quite produced the same Earth-shaking changes there’s always the chance that things will go against the grain given how the standings shake out.

At 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday (on Versus), the 14 teams that missed the postseason get to see if they can slide up the rankings at all. As for the odds of how a team can do in the lottery, the odds look like this:

Edmonton – 25.0%
Colorado – 18.8%
Florida – 14.2%
N.Y. Islanders – 10.7%
Ottawa – 8.1%
Atlanta – 6.2%
Columbus – 4.7%
New Jersey – 3.6%
Boston (from Toronto) – 2.7%
Minnesota – 2.1%
Colorado (conditional/optional from St. Louis) – 1.5%
Carolina – 1.1%
Calgary – 0.8%
Dallas – 0.5%

If you’re thinking that these odds differ from the NBA lottery, they don’t but the way the NHL does the lottery means that the teams that just missed out on the playoffs can’t steal their way to the first pick overall. In the NBA that has happened in the past. The NHL does things different so that teams that do the poorest don’t get totally screwed:

“Per NHL rules, the club selected in the Draft Drawing may not move up more than four positions in the draft order. Thus, the only clubs with the opportunity to receive the first overall selection are the five teams with the lowest regular-season point totals, or the clubs that acquired an eligible club’s first-round draft pick. No club will move down more than one position as a result of the Draft Drawing.”

That means that Edmonton, Colorado, Florida, the New York Islanders and Ottawa are the only teams with a shot at the No. 1 pick. Luck has been on the side of the No. 5 team in the past as the Islanders moved up from five to No. 1 back in 2000. That year they took Rick DiPietro first overall. In 2007, Chicago moved from fifth to first and drafted Patrick Kane with the top pick that year. Fate can be bountiful and cruel all the same apparently.

This year, there’s no definitive top player to be taken in the draft and any number of top prospects could go first. Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson, along with North American forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Couturier should make up the top five in the 2011 draft. As to who could go where, your guess is as good as ours right now.

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