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Photo Credit: © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

How the ‘Gold Plan’ would’ve looked for the 2017 Draft

With the NHL draft lottery this weekend, fans are waiting with bated breath to see how the first round shapes up. There is a debate to be had about the current draft set-up. Despite the lottery, it does to some degree promote tanking to ensure that your team has the best odds heading into it.

It’s not perfect and has its flaws, which means that there is hope to make it better.

One of the ideas to mitigate this tanking was doing the ‘Gold Plan’ system. Down Goes Brown explains it perfectly here and rather than just trying to re-arrange what he said, here’s the explanation from that post:

The idea goes like this: Instead of a draft lottery system that encourages losing by awarding the best odds to the league’s worst teams, you’d determine the draft order based on the number of points each team earned after being eliminated from the playoffs. Once you’re mathematically out of the playoff hunt, you start the clock on banking points towards your spot in the draft order. The team with the most post-elimination points get the top pick, and so on down through the rest of the non-playoff teams.

By doing it this way, it forces teams to compete even after they are eliminated while still giving an advantage to teams eliminated earlier as they have more games to accumulate more points. Like the current system, it’s not perfect. But at the very least, it’s a different way of doing it.

There are the tie breakers like point percentage, followed by head to head series.

For this exercise, I’ve excluded Las Vegas as we don’t know where they would’ve fallen. They likely would’ve just been slotted into the same spot that their draft lottery odds are (same as 28th), but there is no way to verify.

That got me thinking about this draft year and how it would’ve affected the Canucks. Finishing 29th overall in the league gives the Canucks the second best odds heading to the lottery. But how would they shape up using this method?

Micah Blake McCurdy (@ineffectivemath) was kind enough to provide the data for me to see how it shook out.

Here are the post-elimination records of the 14 teams that failed to make the playoffs:

Now, we use those records to see how many points in how many games to help determine the order.

As you can probably see, this isn’t turning out well for the Canucks. With that, let’s look how the draft order would’ve ended up had the ‘Gold Plan’ been in use:

  1.  – Winnipeg Jets –  12 gold points
  2.  – Arizona Coyotes –  9 gold points
  3.  – Colorado Avalanche – 7 gold points
  4.  – Dallas Stars –  6 gold points
  5.  – Los Angeles Kings – 5 gold points in 4 games
  6.  – Detroit Red Wings – 5 gold points in 6 games
  7.  – Philadelphia Flyers – 4 gold points in 3 games
  8.  – Florida Panthers – 4 gold points in 5 games
  9.  – New Jersey Devils – 4 gold points in 8 games
  10.  – Carolina Hurricanes – 4 gold points
  11.  – Tampa Bay Lightning –  2 gold points in 1 game (won head to head vs. NYI)
  12.  – New York Islanders – 2 gold points in 1 game
  13.  – Buffalo Sabres – 2 gold points in 5 games
  14.  – Vancouver Canucks – 2 gold points in 9 games

So, for the Canucks, this system would not have favoured them in the slightest. While the Winnipeg Jets would’ve been the biggest benefactor of it all. Here’s a visual reference of the changes to each team (reminder, L.V. is not included in the #’s):


No matter how the balls fall on Saturday, it’s clear that it could’ve been worse for the Canucks. Having the second best odds heading into the lottery gives the Canucks a chance at one of the top players in this year’s class. Furthermore, it ensures they stay within in the top 5.

If they had fallen to 14th overall, it would’ve limited their chances in adding an impact player. At least this provided an interesting look at how an alternative method plays out.


Images for teams are from www.nhl.com

Records and data provided by Micah Blake McCurdy

  • Spiel

    Basing draft order simply on points in the standings is the problem since teams can manipulate the standings by tanking.

    I like what the NHL did with the Crosby draft lottery after the lockout where odds were adjusted by whether teams had made the playoffs recently and picked high in the draft recently.

    I think a system that is more weighted to teams that finish at the bottom would be much more equitable. But take those baseline odds and adjust them based on how many times a team made the playoffs in the last three years and how many times they have picked in the top 3 (won the lottery) in the last three years. If you’ve made the playoffs or already won the lottery recently your odds get adjusted.