Come Sunday night, the Buffalo Sabres will go into off season mode and the first significant moment comes up quickly. The NHL Draft Lottery will be held Tuesday night in Toronto. It will be televised on NHL Network with coverage beginning at 8:00. Tim Murray and Ted Black will represent the Sabres.
The Sabres have clinched the worst record in the NHL but that doesn't mean they'll have the first pick in the draft. The 14 teams that miss out on the playoffs are all eligible for that top spot. The team with the worst record, in this case the Sabres, has a 25% chance of winning the lottery. It drops to 18.8% for the next worst team and the percentages continue to drop all the way down to point five percent for the 14th team.
While any of the 14 teams are eligible to move up to number one, no team can drop more than one spot so the Sabres are guaranteed to pick no worse than second.
The lottery has been around since 1995 but this is just the second year in which all 14 non playoff teams were eligible for the number one overall choice. From 1995 through the 2012 draft, rules prohibited the team that was selected from moving up more than four spots in the draft order. In 2011, New Jersey won the lottery but since they were eighth, they could only move up to fourth.
In the 19 draft lotteries that have been held, the team with the worst record ended up with the top pick 11 times. In only seven of the 19 lotteries did the team with the worst record actually win the lottery.
Last season, Florida had the worst record but Colorado, which was 29th overall, won the lottery and picked first, taking Nathan MacKinnon.
If you're wondering about the kind of player you can get with one of the top two picks, here is the rundown of players taken one and two since the full season lockout:
2005: Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan
2006: Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal
2007: Patrick Kane, James Van Riemsdyk
2008: Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty
2009: John Tavares, Victor Hedman
2010: Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin
2011: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog
2012: Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray
2013: Nathan MacKinnon, Alexander Barkov