With the end of the Canucks season just on the horizon, fan attention will quickly turn to the NHL Entry Draft Lottery.
Last year, the Canucks finished the season in 28th spot and entered the three lotteries with the highest probability of selecting fifth overall. That happened as the Toronto Maple Leafs won the first lottery, the Winnipeg Jets the second and the Columbus Blue Jackets the final of the three. Winnipeg and Columbus leap frogged the Canucks, pushing them back two spots.
This year, the Vegas Golden Knights are added to the mix. Since they are an expansion team, the NHL’s granted them the same odds as the 28th place team for the 2016-17 season. The only difference being that if both the 28th overall team and Vegas lose all three drafts, then Vegas will be slotted ahead of the 28th team. The rules as it pertains to the Golden Knights for the NHL Entry Draft are below:
This affects the odds and probabilities of where each team will select.
Micah Blake McCurdy created a very handy visualization of how the odds shake out:
This means that if the Canucks remain in the 28th overall place, the probabilities suggest picking 6th as the most likely outcome. If Vegas and the 28th team lose all three lotteries, Vegas will be slotted ahead of the Canucks, thus putting them another spot back.
If the Canucks are able to fall to 29th, they increase their odds when it comes to draft lottery, but also ensures that if for some reason they and Vegas lose all of the draft lotteries, Vegas will remain slotted behind them.
The Canuck play the Arizona Coyotes tonight, who happen to be the 29th ranked team at the moment. If the Coyotes can win in regulation tonight, they will leap frog the Canucks into 28th overall. Vancouver has 69 points to Arizona’s 68.
The Canucks do currently hold the first tie breaker with more regulation wins than Arizona (26 compared to 23), so Arizona will need to finish with more points. A tie results in the Canucks being slotted higher in the overall standings.
A loss tonight puts Arizona in front of Vancouver, leaving the Canucks with two games against Edmonton to close out their season. Lose out and fate is sealed. The Coyotes end the season on Saturday with a home date against the Minnesota Wild.
New Jersey currently has 70 points with three games remaining in their schedule. So it’s possible the Canucks and Coyotes could also pass the Devils.
If the Canucks win in any capacity tomorrow (regulation, overtime or shootout), the Coyotes will be unable to pass the Canucks.
So, it starts tonight with a loss to the Coyotes, and then lose out the rest of the way. Do so, and the Canucks lock up the 29th overall position and the second best odds heading into the NHL Draft Lottery.
You can’t control how the lottery balls fall, but giving the Canucks the 2nd best odds heading into the lottery is the best thing that can happen at this point. It also ensures that all of the Canucks original picks remaining will be as high as possible. By ending the season with the 2nd worst record, the Canucks would also lock up the 33rd, 64th, 95th, and 188th overall picks.