Thursday, April 28, 2016

A couple suggestions to inject some life into the NHL Draft Lottery

Reprinted with permission from

There's no getting around it, the NHL had the opportunity to put on a decent show at last year's draft lottery and they came up way short. Connor McDavid was the grand prize for the lucky winner last year as 14 non-playoff teams and much of their fan base were tuned in to see if their logo was on the golden card. About the only thing interesting about the event was the look on McDavid's face when the Oilers won the lottery.

Sure, it was nothing more than a draft lottery to see which team would be selecting first in the 2015 NHL Draft and for most teams with the lower odds there was no more than a casual interest, but a player like McDavid doesn't come around every day. All season long McDavid and Jack Eichel were the wonder twins at the top of the draft board with hype exceeding anything the league has witnessed since the Sidney Crosby draft in 2005 or even Alexander Ovechkin/Evgeni Malkin in 2004.

The draft lottery process itself involved team executives in the back room witnessing numbers being drawn to select the winner and a representative of Ernst and Young delivering a stack of large album-sized envelops to Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly at the podium. "Daddy Warbucks" Daly, who's better suited to be the face of a board room meeting than the face of the NHL lottery (nothing personal,) proceeded to open envelopes with Deal or No Deal-type background music infused to heighten tension.

Look, I get it. The NHL was unsure how to handle the McEichel lottery and they really wanted to make it look official, but it's television, how about making it a little bit more appealing?

Nothing against Daly, who looks the part of a league executive, but couldn't they come up with a host who has a bit more appeal? Say, NBC's Kathryn Tappen who is not only very attractive, but also had enough hockey knowledge and camera presence to serve as a studio host for the Boston Bruins as well as host NHL Tonight on the NHL Network before her present gig as studio host for the NBC Sports Network doing NHL playoff games.

Maybe throw in Barry Melrose as a side kick who can impart his knowledge while providing enough stories and anecdotes to make for an interesting half-hour show.

Also, they can make it a little more colorful by taking a cue from the morning show hosts at WGR550 who last year said that the league should play the elimination game. With each ball chosen, teams would be removed from the big board.

To see how this would work you can go to the official NHL Lottery Draft Simulator. On the right are the odds to begin the round and the number of lucky combinations for each team. As each number is picked the odds are changed and a teams are removed from contention. For instance, as a Sabres fan we start out with a 5.994% chance of winning the lottery. After clicking the "Choose Number" tab the No. 9 appears and Buffalo's odds drop to 3.846%.

Click:  the No. 10 appears and their odds drop to 3.03%
Click:  the No. 1 appears and Buffalo's out of the running

Before the final ball is chosen, the simulator gives you each team with the number(s) they need to win the pick and the odds of landing it.

With the first three picks up for grabs they can go through this three times and although it's rather anti-climatic starting with the first overall, with 12 teams in the running for the third overall pick there is still plenty of intrigue.

This isn't to say they should go all Chuck Barris and bring out Gene Gene the Dancing Machine every time a ball is picked, but man, it would be cool to see if they can liven it up.


A quick note on the odds.

Although the stated odds for the are round numbers, the actual odds are a little bit less as noted above. The reason is that there are combinations that have no winner. I did it 14 times yesterday (one for each non-playoff team) and on three different occasions a series of numbers indicated that no team had that combination.

Granted, there are very few, relatively speaking, and pulling three of them out of 14 tries is an aberration, but they do exist.

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