4 Strange Facts About the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery

Every year, the NHL Draft Lottery comes with the possibility of staggering results. Could you imagine the Vancouver Canucks being able to draft Connor Bedard to his hometown team? There is a 3% chance of that after all.

Whether you choose to believe the truth or not (I see you out there conspiracy theorists), lottery results are random. That means anything can happen, even the most unlikely of possibilities can see the light of day with a lucky bounce of a ping pong ball.

2020 NHL Draft Lottery
When there’s a lottery involved, anything can happen. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/NHLI via Getty Images)

Today we are going to dive into some of those strange things that could happen. We will share four facts about this year’s lottery that you probably weren’t aware of. This includes recapping perhaps one of the biggest goals scored that hardly anyone is talking about.

The Ottawa Senators

Let’s start in the Canadian capital. It was another season for the Senators that fell short of expectations. But this draft lottery does provide them with a small glimmer of hope.

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Recall the Senators acquired Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes. The big part of the return was a 2023 first-round pick. That pick turned out to be the 12th pick.

However the Senators made the pick top-five protected. Good thing for them, eh? Although they cannot pick first at the 2023 NHL Draft, they in theory have a chance to pick 2nd, 3rd or 4th but nowhere else. How is that possible? We’ll explain in detail a little later on.

For now though, if that 12th spot wins one of the draws, they can only jump up 10 spots. That’s a maximum of second overall. In other words, if the 12th spot doesn’t win a lottery, the pick is transferred to the Coyotes. The Coyotes then can pick 12th, 13th or 14th only.

Related: 2023 Draft Guide

At a 5.1% chance to win second overall, it’s not impossible for the Senators to suddenly be looking at a chance to pick Adam Fantilli or another top center. What a strange outcome that would be. That’s the pandora’s box that pick protection opens up.

The San Jose Sharks

There’s only one team in the draft lottery that can pick anywhere from 1st-6th. Strange indeed. That’s the San Jose Sharks.

However if the Sharks have the fourth best odds, how can they go up from fourth to third you might be wondering? Ah, good question. As we mentioned with the Senators, we’ll dive into those details in our next section.

San Jose Sharks Celebration
The San Jose Sharks can pick anywhere from 1st-6th at the 2023 NHL Draft. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Sharks therefore have the most different outcomes available to them. Here are the odds of them landing with each of the top-six picks.

  • 1st: 9.5%
  • 2nd: 9.5%
  • 3rd: 0.3%
  • 4th: 15.4%
  • 5th: 44.6%
  • 6th: 20.8%

Winning one of the lotteries is obvious for the top-two. We’ll explain third down below. Staying in fourth means two of the top three teams winning both draws. Moving to fifth means one team below them jumped ahead of them. Moving to sixth means two teams below them jumped ahead of them. You exhausted yet?

Talk about a huge swing of emotions. Everything from Bedard down to the next five best prospects are all in play. That’s just crazy for one team to experience. Granted teams below them have six spots they could land in too, but the gap is sizably wider.

Jockeying for Third Place

It turns out 10 teams have a shot at the first overall pick. As you might expect, 11 teams have a chance at the second overall pick. But did you know that 12 teams have a shot at third overall too? Wait, what?

It is true. If you look at the Tankathon NHL site, you will see tiny percentages next to the teams from 4th-12th in the order. That implies a very long-shot situation unfolding to make this happen. Let’s reveal that now.

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This all centers around the Senators again in 12th place. If they happen to win the first lottery draw, they can jump up as high as 2nd overall since they can’t go more than 10 spots.

With that outcome under lottery rules, the team in last (the Anaheim Ducks) are awarded the first pick in that scenario. That’s why their odds jump from 18.5% to 25.5% before the draw. It accounts for teams outside the bottom-10.

Now you have the Ducks in first and the Senators in second. They’re both locked into those spots. There is still a second lottery drawing. But the prize now becomes for the third overall pick.

Enter the teams ranked 4th-12th. Should any of them win the second draw, they get slotted into third. Crazy, right?

Goal No One is Talking About

We could be looking back in 20 years at a goal that happened on Thursday night in Columbus. We’re not talking about the one Johnny Gaudreau scored in overtime although that’s where most people are focused on.

The goal in question was the one Emil Bemstrom scored to tie the game for the Blue Jackets. That forced overtime. If there’s no overtime, there’s no Gaudreau goal.

The Blue Jackets were in the driver’s seat to get the best draft lottery odds. However that win against the Pittsburgh Penguins put the Blue Jackets into 31st place.

This could certainly work in both directions depending on the lottery results. If the Ducks or Blue Jackets win the first lottery draw, we will look back at Bemstrom’s goal as the defining moment.

We’ll revisit this one eventually. But the strange part is that Bemstrom may have helped seal Bedard to the Ducks. Or it may have sealed him to the Blue Jackets.

What’s going to happen come May 8? For everyone below the Ducks and Blue Jackets, they hope for chaos and some lucky bounces. No matter what, something strange is bound to happen. That’s the lottery world we live in.