NHL confirms all non-playoff teams can pick first with lottery, draft date

There could be one of 14 logos in that envelope this year. (Getty Images)
There could be one of 14 logos in that envelope this year. (Getty Images)

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The NHL Draft Lottery will be held on April 29 and, for the first time, all 14 teams that didn't make the playoffs will be eligible for the first overall pick.

Previously, teams that won the lottery could only move up four spots. So if the team that finished with the seventh-worst record in the league won the lottery, it would be slotted with the third overall pick, not first. But in the CBA negotiations this issue came up and it was agreed that the lottery would become a true lotto system like the NBA where all teams could pick first.

In case you were curious how it works, this is the explanation given by the NHL.

The NHL Draft Lottery is a weighted system to determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks of the 2013 NHL Draft. Teams finishing with the fewest points during the regular season possess the greatest chance of winning the right to the first pick in the NHL Draft. Fourteen balls, numbered 1 to 14, are placed in a lottery machine. The machine expels four balls, forming a series of numbers. The four-digit series resulting from the expulsion of the balls is matched against a probability chart that divides the possible combinations among the 14 participating clubs.

I'm going to guess not many beyond Kings GM Dean Lombardi understood that.

The point is, the system is weighted but all teams have a chance to pick first. Despite the new rules and greater reward, the odds are not going to change. So here's how the weighted system will stack up.

Team 1 25.0%
Team 2 18.8%
Team 3 14.2%
Team 4 10.7%
Team 5 8.1%
Team 6 6.2%
Team 7 4.7%
Team 8 3.6%
Team 9 2.7%
Team 10 2.1%
Team 11 1.5%
Team 12 1.1%
Team 13 0.8%
Team 14 0.5%

The end result here is that the teams at the top are significantly damaged. Under the previous system the team with the worst record had just a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery but had a 48.2 percent chance of picking first overall. Now the odds are no different; whoever wins the lottery picks first.

As for the draft itself, it's going to all happen in one long day. The playoffs will run longer than normal because of the lockout, so the draft won't take place until June 30 this year, later than usual. As a result -- and so the rest of the offseason calendar doesn't get out of whack -- they will do all seven rounds in one day. In the past, the draft has been spread out over a weekend.

The draft will start at 3 p.m. ET on that Sunday, meaning it's going to have to go awfully quickly or they'll be bleeding into Monday morning. Either way, the scouts better have their grades set because the picks are going to come flying faster this year.

The past three years, the top overall pick went to the Edmonton Oilers -- in 2012, they won the lottery as the team with the second-worst record in the NHL. The Columbus Blue Jackets had the highest odds.

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