Draft Lottery Numbers of Interest


Can the Oilers go Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back tonight?

Last year, in one of my first posts after officially joining Copper & Blue as a regular contributor, I kind of, somewhat...without really sticking my neck out on the line...called the Oilers' win of the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery.

Once again this year, I have no intention of putting myself out there and making a bold statement about who I am expecting to win. That said...if I had my choice of where to be in the draft, Calgary could do worse than picking 6th in this particular draft and the Oilers aren't in an absolutely terrible spot at #7.

If you've clicked on that link above, the mathematical formula holds true this year as well with one slight variation. Last year, I was trying to point out how unlikely it was that the #2 spot had not won in the history of the lottery until that point, so I was using a "z" variable equal to the number of previous drafts up until but not including 2012. This year, in order to avoid having to use a "z = 0" for the #2 spot, I'm pointing out the likelihood of a draft spot continuing to lose again THIS YEAR, which means any position that has never won the lottery will have a "z" value of 19, then 18, 17, etc., etc.

To recap:

x = % chance of winning the lottery

y = 1-x

z = Number of years since last lottery win (including this year)

probability of the event NOT happening = y^z (^ = to the power of)

So, for all of the draft positions tonight, here are the odds of their number NOT being called again this year:


Looking at the table above, the position that is least likely to be on this long of a losing streak is #3. That said, the #3 position has won the draft four times in the past 19 years, or just over 21% of all of the drafts since it was first introduced in 1995, including a statistical anomaly of 3 wins in 4 years between 2001 and 2004, so even with the 9 year losing streak, it is still well out-performing it's odds over the longer term.

The real interesting spot these days is #6. The number 6 position is the spot with the highest probabilty of a win in any given year that has never produced a lottry victory. Now, the 29.64% odds of that losing streak is a far cry from the 2.9% likelihood the #2 spot had going for it last year, but still, there's an argument to be made that at some point in the next couple of years, the law of averages will come through and the team with the sixth worst record will win the lottery. If you're a Flames fan, you're hoping that is this year.

Focusing on the Oilers, the #7 position has not produced a winner since the very first draft lottery in 1995. The 18 year run without seeing the #7 spot win is a somewhat unlikely, but not-all-that-surprising outcome, and while the #7 team will win again sometime in the future the odds are far more unlikely that the lottery breaks in the Oilers' favour again for a 4th straight year.

As I mentioned last year, These are not exact calculations, as the odds shifted slightly as a result of expansion, and the odds were also different in the draft following the lockout (a.k.a. The Crosby draft), but within a slight margin of error, it gives us a good idea as to just how likely/unlikely it is for a particular ball to continue losing again this year based on past history.

I'll say again, this has no impact on the results of this year's draft. The #2 spot is no more or less likely to come up this year than it was last year when Edmonton finished 29th. It's just that the odds of it happening in back-to-back years is very small.

This is just a little fun with numbers in advance of the draft to see what kind of funny things we can see about past performance of the various positions.

In a few hours, we'll know if the Oilers pick at #1, #7 or #8. Seventh is by far the most likely scenario, but hey, never doubt Edmonton in a lottery situation.

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