blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: April 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

2018 NHL Draft Lottery Results

Tonight Bill Daly presented the NHL Draft lottery results live on Sportsnet, with the top overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, to be held on June 22-23, 2018 in Dallas, being awarded to the Buffalo Sabres. The actual lottery was conducted 30 minutes earlier in Sportnet's Hockey Central Studio in Toronto. This article and the video below, describes the process.
Designed to guard against teams purposely losing regular season games to improve their draft position, the weighted lottery system implemented prior to the 1995 NHL Entry Draft provides weaker teams with a greater chance of a higher pick without any guarantees for poor performance.

Until 2013, only the league's five worst regular season teams were eligible for the top overall pick, allowing teams to advance up to four spots and fall only one spot in the lottery. That changed in 2013 with all non-playoff teams eligible for the top overall pick albeit with their statistical likelihood directly tied to their final regular season standing. Though, a team could still only fall one spot in lottery position.

In 2014, additional changes were implemented for the lottery to reflect the competitive balance of the league, with more balanced odds being introduced in 2015 and separate draws starting in 2016 for the top three positions (as opposed to just for the top overall pick), allowing the league's worst regular season performer to slip as low as fourth overall (as opposed to just second overall under the prior regime).

The added wrinkle to this year's offering is the introduction of the Vegas Golden Knights. This expansion team is participating in its first draft and has been accorded the same starting probabilities as the 28th place finisher (i.e., Arizona Coyotes). If neither Las Vegas or Arizona win any of the three lotteries (i.e., 1st pick, 2nd pick, 3rd pick), then Vegas shall pick immediately before Arizona.

Despite Buffalo earning its favored first selection (1st, 18.5%), this year lottery again defied the odds delivering top picks to underdogs Carolina (2nd, 3.3%), Montreal (3rd, 9.7%), moving up nine and two spots, respectively. Ottawa and Arizona were the biggest losers of this lottery, each dropping two spots. 

For the third straight year, Vancouver dropped in the lottery. This year it was only one spot (6th to 7th), as opposed to the two spot drop in 2016 (3rd to 5th), and the historic three spot slide of 2017 (2nd to 5th). Interesting that the worst NHL team over the past three seasons has selected no better than 5th in any entry draft during that span.

The chart below shows final draft position by team with accompanying odds of selecting first, second or third overall, along with their most likely seeding in the lottery.
Draft Position 1st Pick    2nd Pick    3rd Pick    Likely Pick
1. Buffalo  
18.5%
16.5%
14.4%
   4th (50.6%)
2. Carolina
3.0%
3.3%
3.6%
   11th (69.6%)
3. Montreal
9.5%
9.6%
9.7%
   6th (34.0%)
4. Ottawa
13.5%
13.0%
12.3%
   4th (33.3%)
5. Arizona
11.5%
11.3%
11.1%
   5th (37.7%)
6. Detroit
8.5%
8.7%
8.9%
   6th (34.5%)
7. Vancouver
7.5%
7.8%
8.0%
   7th (38.9%)
8. Chicago
6.5%
6.8%
7.1%
   8th (39.5%)
9. NY Rangers
6.0%
6.3%
6.7%
   9th (36.0%)
10. Edmonton
5.0%
5.3%
5.7%
  10th (30.7%)
11. NY Islanders       
3.5%
3.8%
4.1%
   11th (25.7%)
12. NY Islanders
2.5%
2.7%
3.0%
   12th (78.0%)
13. Dallas
2.0%
2.2%
2.4%
   13th (85.5%)
14. St. Louis
1.5%
1.7%
1.8%
   14th (91.8%)
15. Florida
1.0%
1.1%
1.2%
   15th (96.7%)

Per HockeyViz math wiz Micah Blake McCurdy, the lowest seven finishers (i.e., 24th to 30th overall) are more likely to fall one spot in the draft than to move up under the current draft lottery mechanism.

Remaining NHL Entry Draft positions are set after the playoffs with the Stanley Cup champion and runner-up picking 30th and 29th, respectively. Conference finalists (28th, 27th) as well as division winners and wildcard teams (26th through 15th) are then ordered among their respective subgroup based on regular season standings, positioning teams with better regular season records to pick later than their peers.

* See also 2017 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2016 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2015 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2014 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2013 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2012 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2011 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2010 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2009 NHL Draft Lottery Results.

Friday, April 27, 2018

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts

Every Stanley Cup winning season begins by qualifying for the postseason. Only 8 teams, however, take the second crucial step of winning a playoff series. For the remaining 23 teams, the playoff series win drought begins.

The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each of these 23 teams has gone without winning a series in the Stanley Cup playoffs, showing the last year they actually won a postseason series. Where no year appears, that team has NEVER won a playoff series.

Team       Seasons      Last Series Win
Florida      
21     
Columbus
17     
Never
Toronto
13     
Buffalo
11     
Colorado
10     
Carolina
9     
Vancouver
7     
Arizona     
6     
New Jersey
6     
Philadelphia
6     
Detroit
5     
Los Angeles
4     
Calgary
3     
Chicago
3     
Minnesota
3     
Montreal
3     
Dallas
2     
New York*
2     
Anaheim
1     
Edmonton
1     
New York^
1     
Ottawa
1     
St. Louis
1     

* New York Islanders
^ New York Rangers

The Phoenix Coyotes hold the all-time series win drought record of 23 seasons going 14 seasons in Phoenix and 9 seasons in Winnipeg without a series win, a streak that was snapped in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The current leader is the Florida Panthers with 21 seasons separating them from a postseason series win. Arguably worse are the Columbus Blue Jackets who have never won a playoff series in their 17 season existence. This postseason was special for the Winnipeg Jets (formerly Atlanta Thrashers), as won their first ever playoff game on April 11, 2018 (6,767 days since their first game on October 2, 1999) as well as their first playoff series win, ending a 17 season drought on both counts.

Interestingly, 6 of the 7 Canadian teams (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa) find themselves on the list, with Winnipeg winning their first ever opening round playoff series this postseason. Unfortunately for the hockey-crazed nation, their teams also rank high on the Stanley Cup Championship drought lists, with 25 years separating the country from its last Cup win (Montreal 1993).

Of the eight teams advancing to the second round of the 2018 Playoffs, three (Washington, Pittsburgh, Nashville) won at least one playoff series last year.  None of the others (Tampa Bay, Boston, Winnipeg, San Jose, Vegas) won a series in the 2017 Playoffs, the latter not even being drafted.

Playoff berths are harder to come by every year. Make the most of each opportunity as parity promises your window will likely quickly close.


* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.