clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Crash course in the Penguins trip to the NHL Draft Lottery

We have a lot to learn and catch up on with the Penguins in their first lottery in a while

2020 NHL Draft Lottery Phase 2 Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

While the Penguins were involved in the 2020 NHL draft lottery in the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes (what a prize that was with the first overall pick not cracking 20-goals or 40-points in each of his first three seasons), that was like a fever dream at the height of the COVID pandemic days. Did all that even happen?

Since then, the NHL has re-configured the rules of the draft lottery to tweak things around a little bit. Pittsburgh hasn’t been involved in draft lotteries regularly since 2006, so we need some brushing up with a crash course of questions.

Question: What are the chances the Penguins get the first overall pick so they can draft Connor Bedard?

Answer: 0.0%. NHL teams can only move up a maximum of 10 spots for their draft position from their finishing position in the standings. The Pens weren’t bad enough under the current lottery draft format to have a shot at winning the first pick.

Question: Well what position could the Pens pick in? And what are the odds and possibilities on those?

Answer: The Pens will have either pick No. 4, 5, 14 or 15 in the draft. That sounds fairly exciting to see high possibilities listed, but the overwhelming favorite (94.7%) is that Pittsburgh will stay where they are and be awarded the 14th overall in the 2023 draft.

If they move from that spot, there is a 2.1% chance they win the lottery and go all the way up to 4th overall. There is also a matching 2.1% chance that Pittsburgh gets leaped and they fall to 15th. The least likely outcome (1.0%) is that the Pens win the opportunity to move to fifth overall.

Question: When is the draft lottery?

Answer: It is scheduled for May 8th.

Question: When is the actual draft?

Answer: That will be June 28th and 29th, in Nashville.

Question: What is Pittsburgh’s history in the NHL draft lottery?

Answer: The Pens are the biggest draft lottery success story, by winning the most famous, anticipated and coveted league-wide lottery in 2005 coming out of the lockout, also known as the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes. It was truly a franchise-defining (and possibly saving) event. With that air of gratitude in mind, the Pens have not done well otherwise.

The NHL draft lottery was introduced in 1995, here are the results:
2002: Finished in 5th spot, got 5th pick (Ryan Whitney)
2003: Finished in 2nd spot, got 3rd pick (traded up for 1st overall, Marc-Andre Fleury)
2004: Finished in 1st spot, got 2nd pick (Evgeni Malkin, world’s great consolation prize)
2005: Had 6.3% odds to win (tied-best in league) and won 1st pick (Crosby)
2006: Finished in 2nd spot, got 2nd pick (Jordan Staal)
2020: Had 15th overall pick, remained there
2023: Finished in 14th spot, result: ?

The lottery draft could have been devastating to miss out on Alex Ovechkin, but Pittsburgh was incredibly fortunate that Malkin was in that year’s draft and be a second overall pick good enough to be a No. 1 in a lot of years.

Otherwise and outside of 2005, the Pens have not had much luck in this process, despite having a reputation of being lottery darlings from the early 2000’s. However, that’s also kinda like saying a person never won the Powerball lottery, outside of the one time they won a $800 million jackpot. It evens out.