Much like the NBA's lottery, every team that fails to reach the postseason is given a chance to earn a top pick. This year, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights will be added with the condition that they will be given the same odds as the third team in the lottery.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the final regular-season standings and corresponding lottery odds:
|NHL Draft Lottery Odds|
|Atlantic||GP||W||L||OTL||PTS||Top 3 Lottery Odds||No. 1 Pick Odds|
|Metropolitan||GP||W||L||OTL||PTS||Top 3 Lottery Odds||No. 1 Pick Odds|
|Central||GP||W||L||OTL||PTS||Top 3 Lottery Odds||No. 1 Pick Odds|
|Pacific||GP||W||L||OTL||PTS||Top 3 Lottery Odds||No. 1 Pick Odds|
|*Clinched playoff berth. Source: ESPN.com and Tankathon.com|
Note: The Vegas Golden Knights have a 30.7 percent chance at receiving a top-three pick and a 10 percent chance at receiving the top overall selection.
The prize for winning this year's lottery is likely center Nolan Patrick, widely considered the top prospect in this draft. Patrick's upside is immense, as he seems to accumulate goals and assists rather effortlessly, but the downside is just as scary: a pretty significant injury history.
This year, he dealt with a sports hernia and an upper-body injury. That didn't stop him from scoring 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 WHL games. Not bad for a player who missed most of the offseason recovering from surgery on that hernia.
No, Patrick isn't the sort of generational talent the NHL has seen at the top of the draft in the past two years in Connor McDavid in 2015 and Auston Matthews in 2016 (and let's not dismiss Jack Eichel and Patrik Laine as amazing options with the No. 2 picks in those respective drafts, either).
But he is the sort of player who could help set a franchise in the right direction and be the anchor on a top line for years to come. And his injury history isn't expected to affect his draft stock.
NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr told Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com: "Nolan's situation is part of the game, and for NHL clubs it's a talking point in draft deliberations, and from many recent discussions with NHL personnel, it will have absolutely no negative implications or bearing on Nolan's draft status."
In other words, he's still the front-runner to be the top pick.
Nico Hischier has probably gained some ground, however. The talented forward bagged 38 goals and 48 assists in 57 QMJHL regular-season games this year.
And don't forget about defenseman Timothy Liljegren from Rogle in Sweden, who should be the first defenseman off the board.
This year's draft lottery won't have the buzz the past two years possessed. The McDavid and Matthews sweepstakes made for franchise-changing moments. This year, that level of talent isn't available, though most teams would be thrilled to land a prospect like Patrick or Hischier.