Changes to the NHL Draft lottery are official, and will take place starting in 2015, with further expansion in 2016. The changes in both years have a direct implication on the Buffalo Sabres and their future draft picks.
NHL Draft Lottery Changes – 2015
For draft dreamers out there hoping that the Buffalo Sabres will land the number one overall pick and get the highly touted Connor McDavid, or the second best player Jack Eichel – even a last place finish means different odds. As promised, the NHL has officially changed the standards and procedure for the NHL Draft Lottery – to be implemented over the course of the next two draft lottery’s.
In 2015 – the NHL will still be only placing the first overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery, but is changing the odds for the fourteen teams that don’t make the playoffs.
For the fourteen teams that don’t make the playoffs, the former allocation of winning odds is going to be more evenly distributed.
The graph from the NHL announcement shows the new and old allocation.
(Fewest pts to Most)
New Draft Lottery Odds
Odds Under Former Allocation
So if the Buffalo Sabres were to finish last in the league, they lose five percentage points for securing the first overall draft pick.
Given that most teams that end up with the first overall draft pick in most lottery’s is not the team that ended the season with the worst overall record – a decrease in odds makes “tanking” to get the first overall draft pick an even worse option.
Starting with the fifth worst team – the odds start to improve just a little bit. Helpful for the Buffalo Sabres who also hold the New York Islanders first round pick this year, if the New York Islanders fail to make the playoffs.
2016 NHL Draft Lottery Changes
On top of the odds changes that will start with the next NHL Draft – the NHL will utilize a lottery style system in the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery to select the top three draft selections, not just the top draft selection.
This decision has to make the Buffalo Sabres happy – because they aren’t planning on relying on the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to reshape their organization mired in a rebuild phase right now.
The Sabres may still end up drafting in the non-playoff group for the 2016 draft – but they won’t be so concerned as to how high they draft, as they were with the 2014 and 2015 drafts.
Changes for the better? Maybe – maybe not, only time will tell for the NHL.