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2016 NHL Draft Lottery Odds: Will The Oilers Secure Another First Overall Pick

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The Oilers finished 29th this season and have a shot at the first pick in the draft. The odds of them selecting first are a lot different than the last time the team was in this position though.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Before the puck even dropped in last night's Oilers/Canucks game we knew that the Oilers would finish in 29th place. The Leafs' 5-1 loss to the Devils had guaranteed them a 30th place and the best chance - 1-in-5 - at securing the first overall pick at the draft this June. Of course, winning the lottery from outside of last place is old hat for the Oilers, with the team having done twice before, in 2012 and then again last season.

In 2012 the Oilers found themselves in the exact same position as they are today but their odds of securing the first overall pick, and the entire lottery format are quite different today. Back then the Oilers had an 18.8% chance of picking first and could pick no lower than third overall; their odds of picking second and third were 42% and 39.2% respectively. All 14 non playoff teams were in the draft but no team could move up more than four spots, and the most you could move down was one.

But as a result of the Oilers continued dominance of the draft lottery, the NHL has made changes to prevent, or at least reduce the incentive associated with teams tanking for draft picks. The limit on spots a team can move up has been eliminated, the odds have been adjusted, and this season there will be three lotteries to determine which teams make the first three selections in the draft. For the Leafs this means that they are no longer guaranteed a pick in the top two, they could pick as low as fourth, and the Oielrs could pick anywhere from first to fifth.

With three lotteries, and 2,184 possible outcomes, the odds associated with each possible outcome are a little more complicated than they used to be. Given some time I'm sure that I could figure them out, but thankfully I don't have to do that as Micah Blake McCurdy has already done the work for me. From hockeyviz.com these are the probabilities for each of the 14 teams in the lottery.

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th
Toronto 20.0 17.5 15.0 47.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Edmonton 13.5 13.1 12.5 35.2 25.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Vancouver 11.5 11.4 11.3 14.2 37.8 13.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Columbus 9.5 9.7 9.8 3.1 27.3 33.2 7.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Calgary 8.5 8.8 9.0 0.0 9.1 35.5 25.5 3.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Winnipeg 7.5 7.8 8.2 0.0 0.0 17.5 39.3 17.9 1.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Arizona 6.5 6.9 7.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 27.9 39.1 11.7 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Buffalo 6.0 6.4 6.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 39.2 34.8 6.6 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Montreal 5.0 5.4 5.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 51.8 28.6 3.4 0.1 0.0 0.0
Colorado 3.5 3.8 4.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 64.0 22.8 1.6 0.0 0.0
New Jersey 3.0 3.3 3.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 73.6 15.9 0.6 0.0
Ottawa 2.5 2.7 3.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 82.3 9.3 0.1
Carolina 2.0 2.2 2.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 90.1 3.2
Boston 1.0 1.1 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 96.6

So compared to 2012 when the Oilers were guaranteed a pick in the top three, they now have just under a 2-in-5 chance, 39% to be exact, of picking in the top three. In fact, their most likely draft spot is fourth overall. Of course the Oilers are a team that defies the odds, so I think we should all start planning for another first overall selection.