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NHL Draft Lottery History

History of the NHL Draft Lottery History of the NHL Draft Lottery - Getty Images

The National Hockey League Draft Lottery is a weighted system to determine the order of selection for the first 16 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.

From 2016 through 2019, 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

The New York Rangers won the second phase of the 2020 NHL draft lottery, giving them the first overall pick. The Rangers were among eight teams that lost in the qualifying round of the playoffs with a chance to claim it. The league was forced to adjust the process after the COVID-19 pandemic paused the season and the lottery was turned into a two-phase process. The league’s bottom seven teams had their seasons concluded March 12 and ended up not winning the lottery in June. The winning placeholder team, which became the Rangers, got the top pick with a 12.5 per cent chance.

2021 and beyond

In 2021, only the top two spots in the draft were determined by the lottery, down from the previous number of three.

Starting in 2022, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots, making only 11 of the 16 teams who miss the playoffs eligible for the first overall pick. Also beginning in 2022, a team can win the lottery no more than twice in a five-year span.


Draft Lottery History

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 NY Rangers^^^ (14) NY Rangers Alexis Lafreniere
2021 Buffalo Buffalo (1) Buffalo Owen Power
2022 Montreal Montreal (1) Montreal Juraj Slafkovsky
2023 Anaheim Chicago (3) Chicago Connor Bedard


* - 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 belonged to the Colorado Avalanche as part of the Matt Duchene trade made in 2017.

^^^ - Rangers won a two-phase lottery after losing in the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.