GLENDALE – The Coyotes finished 24th in the League standings this season with 78 points, thus they have a 6.5 percent chance to win the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery, i.e., the right to select Scottsdale native Auston Matthews with the first overall pick at this year’s draft.
“Ask anybody if they'd love to play for their hometown team, it would be pretty special,” Matthews said while attending the Coyotes home finale on April 2. “The Coyotes are the reason I started playing hockey. We're pretty fortunate to have them in the Valley.”
The NHL Draft Lottery is a weighted system to determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks of the draft, which will be held June 24-25 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. This year’s draft lottery is scheduled to take place this Saturday at CBC headquarters in Toronto at 5 p.m. (Arizona time). The lottery will air on NBC in the U.S.
All fourteen non-playoff teams have a chance to win the NHL Draft Lottery. Toronto, which finished with a League-low 59 points this season, has the best chance at 20 percent. Boston, which finished with the most points (93) among the non-playoff teams, has the worst chance at just 1 percent.
Per NHL.com: For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft - a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.
As a result of this change, the team earning the fewest points during the regular season will no longer be guaranteed, at worst, the second overall pick. That club could fall as low as fourth overall.
Three draws will be held: the first drawing will determine the club selecting first overall, the second drawing will determine the club selecting second overall and the third drawing will determine the club selecting third overall.
Once a club is assigned a pick through the Draft Lottery Drawing, it is ineligible for further participation in the Drawing; there will be a re-draw for any pick that otherwise would be assigned to a team that already has been selected.
If there were no draft lottery, the Coyotes would select seventh overall at the draft. Within the lottery format, Arizona has a 27.9 percent chance to stay at No. 7. The most likely scenario, by virtue of the draft lottery format, is that the Coyotes will slip to the No. 8 pick. That has a 39.1 percent chance of happening. The worst-case scenario for the Coyotes is slipping to No. 10 (0.8 percent chance). The best-case scenario, of course, is winning the lottery, or moving up to No. 2 (6.9 percent chance) or No. 3 (7.2 percent). Arizona cannot move up to the fourth, fifth or sixth pick.
The Coyotes haven’t held the No. 1 overall draft pick since 1981 when the team was based in Winnipeg. The Jets selected Dale Hawerchuk first overall that year. The highest the team has drafted since moving to Arizona in 1996 is third (twice).
Matthews is widely considered to be cream of the crop among this year’s draft class.
“I'm just enjoying the experience,” Matthews told NHL.com “It's been an exciting year for me and my family knowing I have an opportunity to be drafted. I'm just taking it all in stride.”
Matthews spent the 2015-16 season with Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top pro league. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound center notched 46 points in 36 games. After his team was bumped from the playoffs, Matthews was the first player named to Team USA for the 2016 IIHF World Championship. He will join Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy on Team USA’s roster at that event.
The Coyotes are set to make seven picks at this year’s draft, including two in the first round. The second first-round pick comes to Arizona via the trade that sent defenseman Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers.