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NHL Draft Order Explained

There will not be a quiz, but here's a primer

by Bob Condor / @NHLSeattle_ /

The 2019 NHL Draft weekend is set to take place June 21-22 in Vancouver, BC, and 27 teams are slated to make at least one of the 32 possible first-round picks.

That can change in an instant.

NHL general managers are already talking trades, as was made evident when the Winnipeg Jets traded star defenseman Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick and defenseman Neal Pionk.

GMs will continue to be in constant communication from the moment the first overall pick is announced on Friday night right up until the final name is called on Saturday afternoon. Draft picks are valuable trade chips, especially in a year like 2019 when the quality of players is deeper than many recent draft classes.

For now, two teams, the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs, won't select a player until the draft's second round due to previously trading their first-rounders. Two other clubs, the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks, must wait even longer to make their first selection in the third round.

Colorado has the highest pick among 2019 playoff teams, selecting fourth overall after trading all-star forward Matt Duchene in 2017 to the Ottawa Senators for their 2019 first-round pick.

Ottawa later traded back into the first round with the 19th pick in Friday's opening round by moving Duchene less than a year and a half later to Columbus. Duchene helped the Blue Jackets win their first-ever playoff series this spring in a historic upset sweep of the top-ranked Tampa Bay Lightning.

Colorado has kept its own first-round pick at No. 16 for a Friday double. The Los Angeles Kings (its own No. 5 and No. 22 from Toronto) and Buffalo Sabres (its own No. 7 and No. 31 from St. Louis) are the only other teams with two picks in the first.

The draft selection order is determined by a combination of lottery percentages and where teams finish in the playoffs. The NHL Draft Lottery, which was held on April 9, set the order for the first 15 slots among teams that did not make the playoffs (or the team acquiring the pick in a trade).

Video: Devils win Draft Lottery, Rangers and Hawks rise

It's a bit complex, but the teams with the worst records have greater odds than teams that just missed qualifying for the postseason.

For instance, the New Jersey Devils had the third worst regular-season record but had a 11.5 percent chance of winning the lottery for the No. 1 pick. Montreal missed the playoffs by a single spot and went into the lottery with a 1 percent chance of rising to the top pick. After the top three picks are randomly determined by lottery balls, the order for No. 4-15 reverts to the teams with the worst records claiming the higher picks.

Here's how explains how the remaining 16 teams who qualify for the playoffs are ordered:

"Non-division winning teams eliminated in the first two rounds of the playoffs are seeded in inverse order of regular-season points, followed by the four division winners. The Nashville Predators, the division winner with the fewest points, have the No. 24 pick, followed by the Washington Capitals, Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The No. 28 pick will go to the Carolina Hurricanes, who lost to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. The No. 29 pick belongs to the Buffalo Sabres, who acquired it from the San Jose Sharks as part of the trade for forward Evander Kane on Feb. 26, 2018. The Hurricanes slot one spot ahead in the draft order because they had two fewer points (99) during the regular season than the Sharks.

The Bruins, who lost the Stanley Cup Final, will pick No. 30, and the No. 31 selection is assigned to Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues."

But, hold on, the Blues first-rounder goes to Buffalo, which received the pick as part of a trade deal in exchange for center Ryan O'Reilly.

Some draft-pick trades do work out for teams. O'Reilly was named most valuable player for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


2019 NHL Draft Selection Order:

1. New Jersey Devils

2. New York Rangers

3. Chicago Blackhawks

4. Colorado Avalanche (from Senators)

5. Los Angeles Kings

6. Detroit Red Wings

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Edmonton Oilers

9. Anaheim Ducks

10. Vancouver Canucks

11. Philadelphia Flyers

12. Minnesota Wild

13. Florida Panthers

14. Arizona Coyotes

15. Montreal Canadiens

16. Colorado Avalanche

17. Vegas Golden Knights

18. Dallas Stars

19. Ottawa Senators (from Blue Jackets)

20. Winnipeg Jets (from Rangers)

21. Pittsburgh Penguins

22. Los Angeles Kings (from Maple Leafs)

23. New York Islanders

24. Nashville Predators

25. Washington Capitals

26. Calgary Flames

27. Tampa Bay Lightning

28. Carolina Hurricanes

29. Anaheim Ducks (from Sharks via Sabres)

30. Boston Bruins

31. Buffalo Sabres (from Blues)

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