How the NHL Draft Lottery works to determine the draft order

2022 NHL Draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
2022 NHL Draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The 2023 NHL Draft is scheduled to take place on June 28 and 29 in Nashville, Tennessee. While we still have a few months before the event, teams are starting to think about their future with the NHL Draft Lottery taking place at the end of the season.

The NHL Draft Lottery is held at the end of the regular season with the 16 teams that did not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The lottery is held to determine who drafts first and second overall; the lottery used to determine the first three picks.

How the NHL Draft Lottery works to determine the draft order

The NHL Draft Lottery gives the bottom 16 teams in the standings different odds of picking first or second overall. The team with the worst record and the least points has the best odds, whereas the team that just missed out on the playoffs has a better chance.

Here are the percentages based on the positions in the standings:

32 – 18.5%
31 – 13.5%
30 – 11.5%
29 – 9.5%
28 – 8.5%
27 – 7.5%
26 – 6.5%
25 – 6%
24 – 5%
23 – 3.5%
22 – 3%
21 – 2.5%
20 – 2%
19 – 1.5%
18 – .5%
17 – .5%

You are only able to move up ten picks in the draft. So if one of the better teams that are positioned 17 to 21 in the standings wins the lottery with their really small percentage, then they will move up ten spots, not all the way to the first or second overall pick.

Additionally, tanking teams are not going to be able to win every year. You are not able to win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span. So Arizona and Chicago, two teams that are rebuilding heavily, cannot win the lottery every season if they continue to tank.

Some other leagues simply give the top pick to the worst team in the standings. The NHL’s system ensures that teams that tank are not guaranteed the top pick as much.

Just think about it for this season. As of Jan. 9, 2023, the Blackhawks sit in last place across the entire NHL. They have just 24 points in 39 games and have played very poorly this season. Yet even if they finish the season just as bad, they are still only given an 18.5% chance at landing the top overall pick. While that is a big percentage, it is not a guarantee.

As of now, the consensus number-one pick looks to be Connor Bedard. It will be interesting to see which team ends up landing him when the draft lottery comes around in a few months.