Ranking Teams' Chances of Winning the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery

Carol SchramFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2016

Ranking Teams' Chances of Winning the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery

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    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    With just a short time left in the 2015-16 NHL regular season, eight teams have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Two others have a 0 percent chance of getting to the dance, according to Sports Club Stats.

    Fans of those non-playoff teams are turning their attentions to the draft lottery, where a new format will this year determine the order of selection at the draft in June.

    The NHL has adjusted each non-playoff team's odds of choosing first overall. As you can see on this chart from NHL.com, the team that finishes last overall will still have the greatest likelihood of winning the lottery. But the odds have been spread out more evenly; finishing at the bottom of the standings isn't as much of an advantage as it once was.

    This year's last-place club will have just a 20 percent chance of claiming the first pick, meaning there's plenty of room for a different team to swoop in and most likely grab top prospect Auston Matthews.

    In addition, the second and third overall selections will also be determined by lottery, further increasing the randomness of the draft order.

    Each team's odds in the second and third lotteries will depend upon the winner(s) of the previous one(s), so there's no simple chart that can lay out the odds beyond the first pick. Jeremy Davis did a good job of explaining the permutations and probabilities of the new lottery structure in an article for Canucks Army if you'd care to dig deeper into the math.

    This piece ranks the likelihood of each team from the bottom 10 winning the draft lottery for the No. 1 pick. The ranking starts with the current standings, then factors in the intangibles that could either be a help or hindrance. Much of that will depend on the last two weeks of each team's schedule, but don't discount the possibility that chance will ultimately be a determining factor.

    Which teams to do you think will increase their lottery probabilities between now and the end of the season? And which team do you think will grab that coveted No. 1 pick on April 30?

10. Arizona Coyotes

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Current Position in Standings

    • 22nd overall.
    • 75 GP, 34-34-7, 75 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 7

    • Two home, five road.
    • Six playoff teams, one non-playoff team.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Michael Stone, day-to-day.
    • Shane Doan, day-to-day.
    • Anders Lindback, out for season.
    • Joe Vitale, out for season.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 5 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    In five games since returning from a lower-body injury that kept him out for 40 games, thoroughly refreshed goaltender Mike Smith has posted a 4-1-0 record and .965 save percentage, allowing just six goals along the way.

    The Arizona Coyotes have a tough schedule down the stretch, finishing out the year with games against six of the NHL's top teams, including a home visit by the Washington Capitals and a four-game road trip in six nights to the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.

    Still, Arizona was in playoff contention before Smith got hurt in December and has been hot down the stretch. The Coyotes played spoiler on Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. It wouldn't be surprising to see them collect another seven points or more through their last seven games, potentially climbing the standings.

    If the Coyotes move from 22nd place up to 21st, their lottery odds will drop from 5 percent to 3.5 percent.

9. Buffalo Sabres

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    Jen Fuller/Getty Images

    Current Position in Standings

    • 24th overall.
    • 75 GP, 31-34-10, 72 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 7

    • Two home, five road.
    • Three playoff teams, four non-playoff teams.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Jason Kasdorf, day-to-day.
    • Robin Lehner, day-to-day.
    • Cody Franson, day-to-day.
    • Tyler Ennis, week-to-week.
    • Cody McCormick, indefinite.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 6.5 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    Last season, a stripped-to-the-bone Buffalo Sabres team went 4-12-3 after the trade deadline to secure 30th place overall before losing the draft lottery to the Edmonton Oilers. This year's much-improved Sabres are 6-3-3 since the 2016 deadline and are riding a two-game winning streak.

    With six goals in March, Jack Eichel is up to 23 for the campaign and is just two goals behind leader Artemi Panarin in the the rookie goal-scoring race.

    Buffalo continues to play competitive hockey and has a fairly decent schedule down the stretch. Wins should be possible against the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets. The most difficult games will likely be back-to-backs on the road: March 28 against the Detroit Red Wings and the following night in Pittsburgh against the red-hot Penguins.

    Don't be surprised to see the Sabres move up. If Buffalo wins four of its last seven games, the team would have registered 80 points this season—a 26-point improvement from 2014-15.

    If the Sabres climb from 24th to 22nd, their lottery odds would drop from 6.5 percent to 5 percent.

8. Ottawa Senators

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Current Position in Standings

    • 21st overall.
    • 76 GP, 34-33-9, 77 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 6

    • Two home, four road.
    • Five playoff teams, one non-playoff team.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Dion Phaneuf, day-to-day.
    • Patrick Wiercioch, day-to-day.
    • Mark Borowiecki, indefinite.
    • Kyle Turris, indefinite.
    • Chris Phillips, indefinite.
    • Clarke MacArthur, out for season.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 3.5 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    Unlike last season, when the Ottawa Senators defied the odds to push all the way into a playoff spot, the team couldn't find that extra gear when it mattered this year. Since the trade deadline, the Sens have gone 4-6-3, which has dropped them eight points behind the teams competing in the Eastern Conference wild-card race.

    Ottawa has just six games left on its schedule, including tough matchups against the Minnesota Wild, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins.

    Don't expect to see the Sens collect more than another four points down the stretch. If they move two spots down the standings, their lottery odds would increase from 3.5 percent to 6 percent.

7. Montreal Canadiens

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    Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Position in Standings

    • 23rd overall.
    • 76 GP, 34-36-6, 74 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 6

    • Three home, three road.
    • Four playoff teams, two non-playoff teams.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Lucas Lessio, day-to-day.
    • Victor Bartley, day-to-day.
    • Mark Barberio, indefinite.
    • P.K. Subban, day-to-day.
    • Brendan Gallagher, day-to-day.
    • Tom Gilbert, out for season.
    • Jeff Petry, out for season.
    • Brian Flynn, late March/early April.
    • Daniel Carr, late April.
    • Carey Price, indefinite.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 6 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    With their 9-0-0 start to the season nothing but a distant memory, the Montreal Canadiens are limping toward the end of the 2015-16 without a long list of key players, which most notably contains MVP goaltender Carey Price.

    It's still unclear whether Price will be ready to even practice with the Canadiens over the last two weeks of the season, let alone see a bit of game action before the end of the year. There's no return date, either, for P.K. Subban after his March 10 neck injury or Brendan Gallagher after his March 5 lower-body injury.

    Montreal has just one win in its last five games, and four of its final six matchups are against the two teams in Florida—which are both gearing up for playoff runs. 

    Expect to see the Canadiens drop one spot in the standings by the end of the season, which would improve their draft lottery odds from 6 percent to 6.5 percent.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Position in Standings

    • 27th overall.
    • 75 GP, 30-37-8, 68 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 7

    • Two home, five road.
    • Four playoff teams, three non-playoff teams.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Fedor Tyutin, day-to-day.
    • Jared Boll, suspended until April 2.
    • Curtis McElhinney, out for season.
    • David Clarkson, day-to-day.
    • Jack Johnson, out for season.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 9.5 percent

     

    X-Factors

    "Tortorella Won't Hear Tank Talk" was the headline of a March 21 blog post after Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch tried to get the Columbus Blue Jackets' coach to weigh the pros and cons of finishing a season strongly versus moving down the standings in an effort to secure a better draft pick.

    Though Tortorella insisted the final stretch needs to be about his players building and maintaining good habits, his Jackets are just 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and are riding a two-game losing streak after dropping games to Nashville and the Carolina Hurricanes.

    However, the Blue Jackets' schedule through the last two weeks of the schedule is only moderately difficult compared to some of the other teams around them, and the team is reasonably healthy. If the Jackets win three of their last seven games, they could move from 27th place up to 25th, dropping their chance of winning the first pick from 9.5 to 7.5 percent.

5. Winnipeg Jets

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    Marianne Helm/Getty Images

    Current Position in Standings

    • 25th overall.
    • 75 GP, 31-38-6, 68 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 7

    • Three home, four road.
    • Six playoff teams, one non-playoff team.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Jacob Trouba, day-to-day.
    • Tyler Myers, out for season.
    • Toby Enstrom, indefinite.
    • Mathieu Perreault, indefinite.
    • J.C. Lipon, day-to-day.
    • Anthony Peluso, 16 weeks.
    • Bryan Little, out for season.
    • Grant Clitsome, indefinite.

     

    Current Odds of Winning First-Overall Pick: 7.5 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    With half their blue-line regulars on the injured list, the Winnipeg Jets will have a tough time picking up many more points down the stretch. 

    Their only remaining game against a non-playoff team will come against the Ottawa Senators, who sit nine points above them in the standings. The last week of March starts off with a visit to Philadelphia to take on the desperate Flyers, then the season wraps up with games against five Western Conference teams. 

    Winnipeg's best chances for wins should come against the Minnesota Wild on April 3 and the San Jose Sharks on April 7. By that point, both those teams should have their playoff positions locked down and likely won't have much to play for.

    Mark Scheifele is finishing the season strongly, with 16 of his career-high 50 points coming in 14 games in March. Keep an eye on him to provide offense as Winnipeg picks up another four to six points before the end of the season.

    The Jets look like they'll move down a bit in the final standings. A shift from 25th to 26th would improve Winnipeg's odds from 7.5 to 8.5 percent.

4. Calgary Flames

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Current Position in Standings

    • 26th overall.
    • 75 GP, 31-38-6, 68 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 7

    • Two home, five road.
    • Four playoff teams, three non-playoff teams.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Josh Jooris, day-to-day.
    • Dennis Wideman, indefinite.
    • Ladislav Smid, week-to-week.
    • Karri Ramo, out for season.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 8.5 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    The Calgary Flames have lost their last three games, and goaltending remains an issue for the NHL's most porous club. The Flames have given up 15 goals during their losing streak, and no one in the league has let in more than the 238 goals they have conceded.

    Calgary was flirting with a .500 record before Karri Ramo's season-ending injury on Feb. 12. Since Ramo was sidelined, the team has gone 6-12-3.

    Outside the crease, the Flames are one of the healthier teams among the group at the bottom of the standings, but tough games left on Calgary's schedule include two against the Los Angeles Kings, one against the Anaheim Ducks and one against the Minnesota Wild.

    The Flames may be able to pick up a few more points against the Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks, but they'll probably slip a little further down the standings.

    A move from 26th to 27th will improve Calgary's odds at the draft lottery from 8.5 to 9.5 percent.

3. Edmonton Oilers

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Position in Standings

    • 29th overall.
    • 78 GP, 30-41-7, 67 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 4

    • Three home, one road
    • One playoff team, three non-playoff teams

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, day-to-day.
    • Adam Pardy, week-to-week.
    • Oscar Klefbom, week-to-week.
    • Brandon Davidson, indefinite.
    • Benoit Pouliot, indefinite.
    • Eric Gryba, indefinite.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 13.5 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    Connor McDavid has shone since returning to the Edmonton Oilers lineup in early February and has posted 10 points in his last seven games, leading to renewed conversation about his chances of picking up the Calder Trophy.

    The Oilers are tied with the Vancouver Canucks and just one point ahead of the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference basement. With only four games left on their schedule, Edmonton won't get many more chances to pick up points, but three of those final four games are against fellow Pacific Division cellar-dwellers in Calgary and Vancouver.

    Look for the Oilers to move up one more spot, ending the year in 28th place.

    That'll drop their lottery odds from 13.5 to 11.5 percent, but they're the Oilers! Don't discount the fact the extraordinary luck we've seen the Oilers have in past draft lotteries could factor in once again, bumping them up to a higher pick when the ping-pong balls are drawn.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Position in Standings

    • 30th overall.
    • 74 GP, 27-36-11, 65 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 8

    • Three home, five road.
    • Four playoff teams, four non-playoff teams.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Leo Komarov, day-to-day.
    • Nikita Soshnikov, day-to-day.
    • Peter Holland, day-to-day.
    • Matt Hunwick, out for season.
    • Joffrey Lupul, out for season.
    • James van Riemsdyk, out for season.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 20 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    For most of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had the inside track on the 30th spot in the standings and the top odds of winning the draft lottery. But a funny thing happened on the way to the finish line: Eager young players have pushed the Leafs to a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games.

    Toronto is still last, but if their positive momentum continues, their late surge could lessen their chances of securing one of this year's top picks.

    Just catching the league's other teams has been an impressive achievement for the Leafs in March. If Toronto ends up finishing 29th overall, the team's odds of grabbing the first pick would fall from 20 percent to 13.5 percent.

1. Vancouver Canucks

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    Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

    Current Position in Standings

    • 28th overall.
    • 75 GP, 27-35-13, 67 pts.

     

    Games Remaining: 7

    • 3 home, 4 road.
    • 4 playoff teams, 3 non-playoff teams.

     

    Key Injuries 

    • Chris Tanev, day-to-day.
    • Markus Granlund, day-to-day.
    • Luca Sbisa, week-to-week.
    • Radim Vrbata, out for season.
    • Brandon Sutter, out for season.
    • Alex Edler, out for season.

     

    Current Odds of Winning 1st Overall Pick: 11.5 percent.

     

    X-Factors

    Down the stretch, no team has been as dogged in its pursuit of last place as the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have flat out stopped scoring, tallying seven goals in total during their eight-game losing streak, when they've been shut out four times and earned just a single point.

    All of Vancouver's remaining games are against Pacific Division teams—rivals who seem to derive boundless pleasure from dishing out punishment to the team that dominated the region at the dawn of the decade.

    There won't be any easy games for the undermanned Canucks between now and the end of the season. The way things are going, it's not out of the question Vancouver could play out the string without earning another win.

    If that happens, expect the Canucks to lock up their first last-place finish in the NHL in franchise history—a dubious achievement that would also increase their odds of grabbing Auston Matthews from 11.5 percent all the way to 20 percent.

    Only time will tell whether the ping-pong balls will justify all the losing.

     

    All stats courtesy of NHL.com. Injury information from Rotoworld.