Skip to main content
Publish date:

Tanking for the NHL Draft just got trickier with changes to lottery


Are you an NHL general manager thinking of tanking this season in a bid to draft Connor McDavid with the first pick? Well, your plan just got a whole lot more risky.

The NHL on Tuesday confirmed some long-rumored changes to its Draft Lottery. Starting in 2015, "the odds of winning the first overall selection in the NHL Draft for the 14 non-playoff teams will be adjusted to more appropriately reflect the current state of competitive balance in the league."

In other words, the parity that's settled over the standings will be reflected in the lottery.

What will the changes look like? Well, this summer Buffalo had a 25% chance to win the lottery based on its standing as the league's worst team. Next summer, that same distinction would earn the Sabres a 20% shot making the first selection. The odds for the teams that finish 27th-to-29th take a beating as well, but the clubs that finish 17th-to-26th will actually see slightly more favorable chances of moving up in the draft.

Here's how it plays out (graph provided by

SI Recommends

Image placeholder title

The good news? The team that finishes 30th can still no worse than the second pick (Jack Eichel wouldn't be a bad consolation prize). But that all changes in 2016. When that draft rolls around, the lottery will assign the top three slots, as opposed to the current system that awards one team a chance to leap five spots in the order, all the way up to the top selection. And that means a teams finishing in 30th could end up just the fourth pick as consolation for sucking so bad.

Again, from

"Three draws will be held: the 1st Lottery draw will determine the club selecting first overall, the 2nd Lottery draw will determine the club selecting second overall and the 3rd Lottery draw will determine the club selecting third overall.

"As a result of this change, the team earning the fewest points during the regular season will no longer be guaranteed, at worst, the second overall pick. That club could fall as low as fourth overall.

"The allocation of odds for the 1st Lottery draw will be the same as outlined above for the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery. The odds for the remaining teams will increase on a proportionate basis for the 2nd Lottery draw, based on which club wins the 1st Lottery draw, and again for the 3rd Lottery draw, based on which club wins the 2nd lottery draw.

"The 11 clubs not selected in the Draft Lottery will be assigned NHL Draft selections 4 through 14, in inverse order of regular-season points."

The upshot? Tanking may not have been prevalent in the past, but with the rewards for failure diminished, you probably won't see teams playing to lose from now on.