The 14 teams that failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs are hoping for some consolation when the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is held in Toronto on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
The lottery will determine the order of the first 14 picks of the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held June 24-25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
In August 2014 the NHL changed the lottery format, and for the first time in 2016 the lottery drawing will assign the first three picks of the draft. Three separate drawings will be held.
The NHL also lowered the odds of success for the teams with the fewest points in the regular season. The 30th-place team has a 20.0-percent chance of winning the top pick; in 2014, prior to the changes, the 30th-place team had a 25.0-percent chance of winning.
"This year's lottery represents another step toward removing, hopefully once and for all, any incentive, or perception that an incentive exists, for teams in the NHL to finish lower in the regular-season standings," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "By identifying the top three selections by lottery, with 14 clubs eligible to be selected, teams necessarily understand that they cannot materially benefit themselves for positioning in the draft by end-of-season jockeying in the standings."
The remaining 16 picks of the draft will be determined at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Here are five questions to consider in preparation for the draft lottery:
1. How will the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery be different?
All 14 teams that didn't qualify for the playoffs will have an opportunity to win the No. 1 pick, but there also will be lotteries for the second and third picks.
The change in format means the 30th-place team in the League standings could end up with the No. 4 pick; in previous years that team would slide to No. 2 if it didn't win the lottery.
The odds of winning the lottery for the No. 2 and No. 3 picks increases on a proportional basis depending on which team wins the previous draw.
After the three drawings, the 11 remaining teams will be assigned draft spots No. 4 through No. 14, in inverse order of regular-season points.
2. Which teams have the best odds of winning the Lottery?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have the best odds (20.0 percent) of winning the No. 1 pick after finishing with the fewest points at the end of the regular season. The last time the Maple Leafs selected first was the 1985 draft, when they chose left wing Wendel Clark.
The Maple Leafs will be assigned 200 of the 1,001 possible four-number combinations as the team with the highest odds.
The Edmonton Oilers, who have won three of the past six lotteries and have chosen No. 1 in four of past six drafts, finished with the second-worst point total and have a 13.5-percent chance of winning; they were assigned 135 four-number combinations. The Oilers won the lottery last year and selected center Connor McDavid.
All seven Canadian teams are lottery contenders this year, and there's a 68.5-percent chance that one of them wins the No. 1 pick.
3. How confident should Toronto fans be having the highest odds of winning the lottery?
Cautiously optimistic. The last four years the 30th-place team has not won the Draft Lottery; six times in the 21 previous lottery drawings has the first pick gone to the team with the fewest points. The last time it happened was 2010, when the 30th-place Oilers won the lottery and selected forward Taylor Hall.
In 2012 the Columbus Blue Jackets were last in the League but the Oilers won the lottery and selected right wing Nail Yakupov. In 2013 the Florida Panthers finished last but the Colorado Avalanche won the lottery and selected center Nathan MacKinnon. The Buffalo Sabres finished last in 2014 and 2015, but the Florida Panthers (Aaron Ekblad) and Oilers (McDavid) won the lottery in those years.
4. Which elite prospects will be available for those teams winning the first three picks?
The projected No. 1 pick is center Auston Matthews, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters eligible for the draft.
Matthews (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) played this season for Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league, where he was coached by former NHL coach Marc Crawford.
He was tied for fourth in NLA in goals (24) and points per game (1.28) in 36 games. He also helped the United States win the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, and was the first player named to the U.S. for the 2016 IIHF World Championship.
Scouts have compared his style of play to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and the Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar.
He grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he was a fan of the Arizona Coyotes, who have a 6.5-percent chance of winning the lottery.
Two other players high on most draft boards are forwards Patrik Laine of Tappara and Jesse Puljujarvi of Karpat in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland.
Laine (6-4, 206) is. No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters. He helped Tappara win the Liiga championship and was named the most valuable player of the postseason after he had 10 goals and 15 points in 18 playoff games. He also had 17 goals and 33 points in 46 regular-season games.
He's considered a threat to score from anywhere on the ice and could have the best one-timer of any player in this draft class.
Puljujarvi (6-3, 203), No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final international ranking, led all skaters at the WJC with 17 points, and was named the best forward and most valuable player of the tournament. He had 13 goals and 28 points in 50 games for Karpat.
Defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6-2, 205) of Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League is No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. He had 11 goals, eight power-play goals and 49 points in 62 games. Chychrun has the size, strength, speed and maturity required of a top-end prospect at his position.
5. Are there top talents beyond the first three picks to get excited about?
Yes. The first 10-12 players chosen should challenge for NHL roster spots within three years.
"The top end of this draft class is deep," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "After Matthews, Laine, and Puljujarvi, forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) and Matthew Tkachuk (London, OHL) are in the top-five mix with all of them having the potential to be future NHL All-Stars. The differences in the talent available from picks six to 16 is minuscule, which makes this group of players very interchangeable. There is considerable depth in the first round, meaning all the lottery teams will be getting a potential impact player.
"The potential of the world-wide players available in the first two rounds indicate that the 2016 draft could prove to be one of the deepest in recent years, which could generate a lot of trade talk by the 30 NHL clubs."