On April 13, the 14 non-playoff teams will participate in the 16th annual NHL Entry Draft Drawing. While it doesn't carry the splendor of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the result of the drawing, sometimes referred to as the "draft lottery," can be franchise changing.
The Draft Drawing provides each of the 14 teams the opportunity to move up a maximum of four spots in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, to be held June 25 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Therefore, only the teams with the five worst records have a shot at securing the No. 1 pick. In the weighted drawing, the Edmonton Oilers, the team that finished at the bottom of the League standings, have the best shot -- a 25 percent chance -- of winning the drawing, conducted at the NHL's offices in New York City.
Here are some of the top moments in Draft Drawing history. 1995 -- The first Draft Drawing in NHL history was held before the Entry Draft at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton. Los Angeles, which would have selected seventh, was the first beneficiary of the new lottery system, winning the draw and moving up to the No. 3 spot. After Ottawa took Bryan Berard and the Islanders picked Wade Redden, two defensemen who were later traded for each other, the Kings selected the first European, defenseman Aki Berg from Finland.
Berg never did fulfill the expectations of being a top-three pick, but did enjoy a respectable nine-year NHL career, scoring 15-70-85 in 606 games. His greatest benefit to the Kings was being traded to Toronto for Adam Mair and a second-round choice in the 2001 Entry Draft which turned out to be future 40-goal scorer Mike Cammalleri.
1998 -- Art Williams, the new owner of the Lightning, put his stamp on the team immediately by selecting prodigy Vincent Lecavalier from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. To do so, Tampa Bay moved up from third to first via a series of trades with Florida and San Jose months earlier.
At the draft, held by Buffalo's Marine Midland Arena, Williams declared Lecavalier would be "the Michael Jordan of hockey."
"I didn't know hockey," said Williams, a billionaire insurance executive from Cairo, Georgia. "I'm a football coach and I knew a little bit about basketball, so I didn't know who (Wayne) Gretzky was. The press has a good time with me. I talk about the field and teeing it up and quarters. I haven't gotten the terminology yet."
The sequence of trades went thusly: On Nov. 13, 1997, Florida traded its first-round choice and Dave Lowry to San Jose in exchange for Viktor Kozlov and Florida's fifth-round choice (previously acquired - Jaroslav Spacek). On March 24, 1998, San Jose traded Andrei Nazarov, future considerations and the option to swap first-round picks to Tampa Bay in exchange for Bryan Marchment and David Shaw.
San Jose did not have its own first-round pick in the 1998 Draft, traded previously to Colorado for Mike Ricci. With the first-round pick originally belonging to Florida, the Sharks entered the draft drawing third, behind Tampa Bay and expansion Nashville.
On May 10, San Jose, with an 18.5 percent chance of winning, won the drawing, but Tampa Bay exercised its right to swap picks as a result of the March 24 trade. On June 27, the Lightning welcomed Lecavalier into the organization.
"If you're going to be in this business, you've got to stick your neck out," Williams added. So far so good, as Lecavalier has scored over 300 goals, 700 points and led the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup title.
2000 -- For the first time in Draft Drawing history, the lottery itself brought a change of team for the first selection. The Islanders, who had an eight percent chance of moving up from fifth to first, did just that and selected freshman goaltender Rick DiPietro from Boston University. In the process, New York leapfrogged Atlanta, Minnesota, Columbus and Tampa Bay. Before the drawing, the Thrashers had a 25 percent chance of retaining the top pick.
Rick DiPietro (Getty Images)
DiPietro's selection marked the first time in Entry Draft history that a goaltender was taken first. To clear a path for his future, the Islanders traded goaltender Roberto Luongo to Florida on the same day of the first round of the Entry Draft at Calgary's Pengrowth Saddledome. 2001 -- Atlanta, with only a 14.2 percent chance to win the drawing, was able to move from third to first. Two months later, GM Don Waddell chose left wing Ilya Kovalchuk with the No. 1 pick at the National Car Rental Center in Sunrise, Fla. He became the first Russian-born player to be selected with the top pick in an Entry Draft.
2002 -- Florida won the drawing and moved up from third to first, but traded the top selection to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who chose hometown favorite Rick Nash at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. But the Panthers still got the player they wanted in defenseman Jay Bouwmeester with the third pick. In between, Atlanta chose goaltender Kari Lehtonen from Finland.
"We had him No. 1 all year," Columbus President Doug MacLean said of Nash, who played junior hockey for London of the OHL. "We just see him as a big power forward."
To get the top selection, the Blue Jackets traded the No. 3 pick and gave Florida the option of switching first round picks in 2003.
2003 -- For the second straight year, Florida won the drawing to move up from fourth to the first selection in the Draft, and for the second straight year traded the pick. This time the Panthers dealt with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who used the top pick to take goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville.
Florida eventually took Nathan Horton at No. 3.
In the deal, the Panthers also received the 55th pick (Stefan Meyer) and Mikael Samuelsson, and the Penguins received the 73rd pick (Daniel Carcillo).
2004 -- After winning the drawing, Capitals GM George McPhee said: "We just feel in some way we were rewarded for the difficult task we undertook this year. We hope today is the first day in a new era for the Capitals."
Was he ever prophetic. Washington won the drawing, moved from third to first and chose left wing Alex Ovechkin, top-ranked European skater going into the NHL Entry Draft.
The Capitals were able to jump ahead of Pittsburgh and Chicago in the draft, held at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina on June 26. The Penguins' consolation prize was Evgeni Malkin.
2005 -- This was the most unique Draft Drawing. Because the 2004-05 NHL season was cancelled, there was not a final standings to determine the Entry Draft order. Therefore, the Draft Drawing held on July 22 included all 30 teams and a special weighted system. Teams were assigned one to three lottery balls based on their playoff appearances from 2001-02 through 2003-04 and first overall draft picks from the drafts of 2001 through 2004. Four clubs had the greatest chance of receiving the first overall selection (6.3 percent) -- the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ten teams had two lottery balls (4.2 percent chance), and 16 were given one ball (2.1 percent).
Pittsburgh won the drawing and the right to select first in the Entry Draft, held eight days later. Not surprisingly, the Penguins chose the consensus No. 1 pick, Sidney Crosby.
2007 -- The resurgence of the Blackhawks can be traced back to April 10, 2007, the date they won the Draft Drawing and moved up from fifth to first to select Patrick Kane at Nationwide Arena in Columbus two months later.
Chicago had the fifth-greatest percentage likelihood -- 8.1 percent -- that one of the numbered sequences assigned to them would be the winning combination.
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Odds of winning the NHL Draft Drawing 30th place team - 25.0 percent 29th place team - 18.8 percent 28th place team - 14.2 percent 27th place team - 10.7 percent 26th place team - 8.1 percent 25th place team - 6.2 percent 24th place team - 4.7 percent 23rd place team - 3.6 percent 22nd place team - 2.7 percent 21st place team - 2.1 percent 20th place team - 1.5 percent 19th place team - 1.1 percent 18th place team - 0.8 percent 17th place team - 0.5 percent