Tonight before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semis between the Capitals and Penguins on NBC at 8 PM (I refuse to call it the Metro division final with the Isles still in the playoffs), comes the long-anticipated NHL draft lottery for 2016. Especially north of the border where every Canadian team will be involved. Calling tonight a lottery is a bit of an undersale since it’s actually three lotteries tonight. For the first time this season, the NHL’s gone to an NBA-like system where there will be a seperate drawing for each of the top three picks. Although clearly American-born Auston Matthews should be the #1 overall pick, there’s a solid #2-3 tier with Finnish forwards Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi expected to round out the top three, giving each lottery winner something potentially special to look forward to. Albeit none of these guys are graded as highly as the 2015 McEichel duo, but any one of them would look good in Devils red and white, that’s for sure.
If you want to get a thumbnail sketch of how the lottery can work, go to this site (fittingly called tankathon) and run simulated lotteries to your hearts content.
The last column indicates each team’s chances at getting the #1 overall pick, with three straight Canadian teams having the best shot – Toronto (20%), Edmonton (13.5%) and Vancouver (11.5%), while the Devils have only a 3% chance at Auston Matthews. After that first lottery, the odds will reset two times and each team’s chances will increase by an aggregate amount depending on who wins the initial, then the second lottery. Of course after the lottery’s conducted in secret – though it will be posted on NHL.com shortly after – NHL second-in-command Bill Daly will open envelopes with each team’s logo one at a time. If you’re a Devils fan, all you need to know is if you see your logo before 11, that’s not good and a clear indicator of at least one of the teams behind us (Ottawa, Carolina, Boston) jumping into the top three. On the other hand, if you don’t see the Devils’ logo come out by pick 11, then start popping a cork of champagne cause that instantly means the Devils will be no worse than pick #3.