A simple ping-pong ball can dramatically affect the destiny of an NHL franchise. And if that sounds like overkill, look no further than the last few years to see how fortunes can rise quickly.
Since 2004, the number one choices in the NHL Entry Draft have been Ovechkin, Crosby, Johnson, Kane, Stamkos, and Tavares. And within a few short seasons of those picks being made, franchises in Washington, Pittsburgh, and Chicago went from non-playoff teams to Stanley Cup contenders. And teams like Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders now have cornerstone players around which to build.
Which brings us to the 2010 LG NHL Draft Lottery, which airs on TSN and TSN HD today at 8pm et/5pm pt. The order for June's NHL Entry Draft will be determined, with top prospects Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers and Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires the presumed prizes for the teams that own the top picks.
So how does it all work? The 14 non-playoff teams have been entered into the lottery. The draw winner moves up five spots, but no team can move down more than one position.
That means that only five teams have a chance to gain the first-overall pick. Edmonton, Boston (via Toronto), Florida, Columbus, and the Islanders can take over the number one spot if their number comes up. Edmonton has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery, but their odds of keeping the number one pick increase to 48.2 percent since they retain the spot if a team ranked sixth or lower captures the lottery.
Teams can only drop one spot, so the Oilers are guaranteed to pick no worse than second. Boston has an 18.8 percent chance of rising to the top pick, while Florida is at 14.2 percent, Columbus at 10.7, and the Islanders at 8.1.
Spots six through 14 going into the Draft Lottery are held, in order, by Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Dallas, Anaheim, Phoenix (via Calgary), and St. Louis.
The suspense continues to build and the answers will be revealed today, when NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly opens the envelopes live on TSN and TSN HD beginning at 8pm et/5pm pt.