The National Hockey League Draft Lottery is a weighted system to determine the order of selection for the first 15 picks of the Draft.

The Draft Drawing involves clubs that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, or the clubs that acquired the first-round drafting positions of those non-playoff clubs.

From 1995 through 2012, the league's rules stipulated that the club selected in the Draft Lottery could not move up more than four positions in the draft order. Thus, the only clubs with the opportunity to receive the first overall selection were the five teams with the lowest regular-season point totals, or the clubs that acquired an eligible club's first-round draft pick. No club will move down more than one position as a result of the Draft Lottery.

Prior to the 2014-15 season, prominent changes were made to the lottery. For the 2015 lottery, the odds were changed, giving less weight to finishing 30th overall. In addition to a more spread out distribution of odds, the opportunity to select first overall was awarded to any team that wins the lottery instead of the maximum four-slot advancement.

Beginning in 2016, the top three picks were awarded through the draw, ensuring the team that finishes 30th overall is guaranteed only a top-four selection, instead of the second pick being a worst-case scenario.

The 2020 NHL Lottery

One of eight placeholder spots beat the odds to secure the No. 1 pick in the league's draft lottery on June 26, meaning a second draw is required later this summer following the qualifying round of the NHL's return-to-play plan.

The placeholders, who represent the eight teams that will eventually lose out in the NHL's qualifying round, had a combined 24.5 per cent chance of selecting first. The placeholder team that won the lottery had a 2.5 per cent chance. The eliminated clubs from eight separate best-of-five play-in series will each have a 12.5 per cent chance of securing the top pick in the second phase of the lottery.

The Los Angeles Kings moved up from fourth to pick second, while the Ottawa Senators, who had the best combined odds of picking first at 25 per cent because they also owned the San Jose Sharks' selection, will select third and fifth. The Detroit Red Wings, who had the best singular odds to pick first at 18.5, fell to No. 4.

The Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres round out the top-8 in what is the most complicated lottery in NHL history.

Apart from its own pick, 30th-ranked Ottawa also possesses San Jose's selection as part of the blockbuster trade for star defenceman Erik Karlsson in September 2018. San Jose was 29th in the overall standings when the league went on hiatus.

The seven draft spots owned by franchises outside the league's 24-team plan to resume the 2019-20 season later this summer were confirmed as part of the draw, but the other eight were occupied by placeholders representing clubs that will eventually lose out in the best-of-five qualifying round ahead of the playoffs.

Picks nine through 15 will be determined by the yet-to-be-eliminated teams' regular-season points percentage at the time of the league's pause on March 12.

 

Draft Lottery History

 
Year No. 1 SEED WINNER (SEED) NO. 1 PICK 1ST OVERALL
1995 Ottawa Los Angeles* (7) Ottawa Bryan Berard
1996 Ottawa Ottawa (1) Ottawa Chris Phillips
1997 Boston Boston (1) Boston Joe Thornton
1998 Tampa Bay San Jose# (2) Tampa Bay Vincent Lecavalier
1999 Tampa Bay Chicago**(8) Atlanta Patrik Stefan
2000 Atlanta NY Islanders (5) NY Islanders Rick DiPietro
2001 NY Islanders Atlanta (3) Atlanta Ilya Kovalchuk
2002 Atlanta Florida^ (3) Columbus Rick Nash
2003 Carolina Florida^^ (4) Pittsburgh Marc-Andre Fleury
2004 Pittsburgh Washington (3) Washington Alexander Ovechkin
2005 - Pittsburgh+ (1*) Pittsburgh Sidney Crosby
2006 St. Louis St. Louis (1) St. Louis Erik Johnson
2007 Philadelphia Chicago (5) Chicago Patrick Kane
2008 Tampa Bay Tampa Bay (1) Tampa Bay Steven Stamkos
2009 NY Islanders NY Islanders (1) NY Islanders John Tavares
2010 Edmonton Edmonton (1) Edmonton Taylor Hall
2011 Edmonton New Jersey++ (8) Edmonton Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2012 Columbus Edmonton (2) Edmonton Nail Yakupov
2013 Florida Colorado (2) Colorado Nathan MacKinnon
2014 Buffalo Florida (2) Florida Aaron Ekblad
2015 Buffalo Edmonton (3) Edmonton Connor McDavid
2016 Toronto Toronto (1) Toronto Auston Matthews
2017 Colorado New Jersey** (5) New Jersey Nico Hischier
2018 Buffalo Buffalo (1) Buffalo Rasmus Dahlin
2019 Ottawa*** New Jersey (3) New Jersey Jack Hughes
2020 Detroit      
 

* - Los Angeles could only move up a maximum of four spots (moved from 7th to 3rd). The Kings selected D Aki Berg.

# - San Jose was selected in the 1998 drawing, but Tampa Bay held the right to swap first round picks with the Sharks and exercised that right to go to first.

** - Chicago could only move up a maximum of four spots (moved from 8th to 4th). The New York Rangers obtained Chicago's pick in a trade (via Vancouver and Tampa Bay) and selected RW Pavel Brendl.

^ - Florida traded its first overall pick to Columbus

^^ - Florida traded its first overall pick to Pittsburgh

+ - NHL lockout cancelled 2004-05 season, all 30 teams were entered into a lottery with each team having as many as three or as few as one ball to be drawn based on playoff qualification or draft lottery wins over the previous three seasons. The Penguins - who were one of four teams that had three balls in the lottery (*) - were pulled for the right to select C Sidney Crosby.

++ - New Jersey could only move up a maximum of four spots (moved from 8th to 4th). The Devils selected D Adam Larsson.

*** - Ottawa's pick belongs to the Colorado Avalanche as part of the Matt Duchene trade made in 2017.