NHL Draft

How the NHL draft lottery will work in 2023

The NHL draft lottery has been a mechanism that allows the worst teams to draft the best players, while attempting to prevent teams from purposely losing games for this cause, known as tanking.

It’s safe to say that the NHL has yet to perfect this model, as the rules around the draft lottery have changed several times over the years. There are some new and important changes to the lottery this year, and they have a huge impact on teams currently on the bubble of a playoff spot.

Key NHL lottery rules for 2023

This year, there are a few key rule changes:

  1. Teams are only permitted to move up a maximum of 10 spots in the draft lottery.
  2. Two lotteries will be held, for the first overall pick and the second overall pick.

This is slightly different from years past where there was no restriction on how many spots a team could move up. For example, in the 2017 NHL draft, three lotteries were held, and all three winning teams were outside the top-five in odds.

The New Jersey Devils selected first overall despite the fifth best odds in the lottery, the Philadelphia Flyers selected second overall and had the 13th best odds, and the Dallas Stars picked third having the eighth best odds.

This draft was the perfect case example for why teams should not tank, however this was an anomaly and usually the worst teams do select higher in the draft.

This year, a team must finish at least 11th last in the NHL standings to have any shot at first overall.

Lottery odds by standings position

Current Team
Based on PTS%
3218.5%Anaheim Ducks
3113.5%Columbus Blue Jackets
3011.5%Chicago Blackhawks
299.5%San Jose Sharks
288.5%Montreal Canadiens
277.5%Arizona Coyotes
266.5%Philadelphia Flyers
256%Washington Capitals
245%Detroit Red Wings
233.5%St. Louis Blues
223%Vancouver Canucks
21*2.5%Ottawa Senators
20*2%Buffalo Sabres
19*1.5%Pittsburgh Penguins
18*0.5%Nashville Predators
17*0.5%Calgary Flames
* teams do not have a chance to select first overall, can only move up a maximum of 10 spots

Bubble teams out of the running for Connor Bedard

Because of the new rules, all bubble teams that were in the race until the last minute and finished between 17th and 21st, will not have a shot at Connor Bedard. These teams would need to fall quite far down the standings to have a shot at Connor Bedard.

At the top of the odds table, the worst teams in the NHL have a huge advantage on winning the lottery, which is raising a lot of questions about the notion that teams don’t tank. It sure looks to be the right strategy for the Blue Jackets and Sharks this year.

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