Will Red Wings’ Draft Lottery Luck Finally Change?

With the NHL’s regular-season finishing on Friday night (except for a rescheduled match between the Winnipeg Jets and the Seattle Kraken on Sunday), fans of every NHL team have something to look forward to over the next few weeks. Sure, some of those fans have the playoffs to look ahead to, which is cool and all, but fans of less fortunate teams are now free to prepare themselves for the first official offseason event: The NHL Draft Lottery. The draft lottery is where the NHL reveals which two teams have won the lottery and which teams will lose out, dropping up to two spots in the draft order. This event will be taking place on Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m. ET, a little over a week from now. Will this finally be the year that the Detroit Red Wings win the draft lottery?

Updates to the NHL Draft Lottery

The draft lottery gives all teams that missed the playoffs a chance to jump up the draft board and select a player who will hopefully help turn the team around. The lower your team finishes in the standings, the higher your chances are of winning the draft lottery. In the past, each team had a chance at each of the top three picks, which meant that even a team that missed the playoffs by a single game could jump up to first overall. This has always been a fun game of chance, but it also felt unfair to the teams at the very bottom of the standings as the last place team had a roughly 50 percent chance of getting passed in the lottery by three teams, meaning that they would drop down to the fourth overall pick. 

We saw this in 2020 when the last-place Red Wings were dropped to fourth overall after the Ottawa Senators (with a pick from the San Jose Sharks and the third-best odds), Los Angeles Kings (with the fourth-best odds) and New York Rangers (14th-best odds) all won the lottery. It also happened in 2017, when the two teams with the best odds at first overall, the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks, dropped all the way to fourth and fifth, respectively. However, they both selected franchise cornerstone players (Cale Makar in Colorado and Elias Pettersson in Vancouver), so I don’t think they’re too upset anymore.

2022 NHL Draft Dark Logo
2022 NHL Draft Dark Logo (Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.Net)

Last year, the NHL updated the draft lottery process to give the teams at the bottom of the standings better odds of having a high draft pick. The first change is that there are only two lottery picks, so the last-place team, the Montreal Canadiens, can only drop a maximum of two spots in the draft. The next change is that a team can only rise a maximum of 10 spots in the draft order. The 11 teams with the highest odds all have a chance at the first overall pick, but any of the teams with the 12-16th best odds would only rise either nine or ten spots. This helps ensure that the teams with the top odds remain higher in the draft order on average, even if they lose the lottery.

Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide

The Edmonton Oilers won the draft lottery three times in a row from 2010 to 2012 and again in 2015. The final draft lottery update is one that I like to call the “Edmonton Rule.” It states that a team is only allowed to win the lottery two times in a five-year period, which is intended to curb the trend of tanking a bit, as well as spread the luck out a bit more evenly.

Shane Wright Kingston Frontenacs
Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs (Photo by Robert Lefebvre/OHL Images)

Regardless of the team that wins the draft lottery and the first overall pick, it is a near certainty that they will select centerman Shane Wright from the Kingston Frontenacs. His dependable two-way play and NHL-ready shot would make him an excellent piece for the future of whichever team is lucky enough to land him.

Red Wings’ Lottery Positioning

The Red Wings finished the 2021-22 NHL season in 25th place, giving them the eighth-best odds of winning the lottery. More specifically, they have a six percent chance at winning the first overall pick and a 6.4 percent chance at winning the second overall pick. There is a 54.4 percent chance that the Red Wings will remain at eighth overall, making it the most likely outcome of the draft lottery. There is a 30 percent chance that one of the teams ranked 24th through 17th in the league wins the lottery and bumps the Red Wings down to ninth overall, and a 3.2 recent chance that two such teams win the lottery, dropping the Wings all the way to 10th.

Red Wings Lack Lottery Luck

The Red Wings have not exactly had the best luck when it comes to the Draft Lottery, dropping in the draft order in four out of the last five draft lotteries, winning the lottery a grand total of zero times.

  • 2021 – Detroit has the sixth-best odds but loses the lottery and stays at sixth overall
  • 2020 – Detroit has the best odds but drops to fourth overall
  • 2019 – Detroit has the fourth-best odds but drops to sixth
  • 2018 – Detroit has the fifth-best odds but drops to sixth
  • 2017 – Detroit has the seventh-best odds but drops to ninth
Lucas Raymond, Detroit Red Wings
Lucas Raymond, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

As you can see, the Red Wings have had some pretty rotten luck when it comes to the lottery. However, they are beginning to show the NHL that excellent drafting is more important than lottery luck. Since 2017, Detroit has drafted Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina, Moritz Seider, Lucas Raymond, and Simon Edvinsson with their own first-round picks. Even though they dropped or stagnated in the draft order, they have recently drafted the core members of their team going forward who have looked poised to lead this team for the next decade. Who needs lottery luck when you’ve got some of the very best young players in the game?

What Would a Red Wings Lottery Win Mean?

Though it is true that good drafting is more important than good luck, winning the lottery this season would do the Red Wings a whole lot of good. The biggest organizational need going forward is a true top-6 centerman, and this draft has at least two of them who are going to be going at the very top of the draft in Shane Wright and Logan Cooley. If Detroit wins the lottery and earns the opportunity to draft one of these young centermen, they will be much better off down the middle going forward. If the Red Wings lose the lottery and drop two spots to 10th overall, then their choices are going to be a bit more limited, with centermen like Brad Lambert, Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Conor Geekie likely being available. While these players may not be as highly touted as Wright or Cooley, each would still be an excellent addition to this young Red Wings squad.

Even in the worst-case scenario where the Red Wings drop two spots in the draft order, they will still be guaranteed a top-10 pick in the 2022 Draft, which will still be an incredibly valuable asset. I am sure that the Wings’ management group will be able to select a player in this draft that they are confident will be a massive part of this team’s future regardless of where they end up drafting in the top 10.