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Wild hopes to win big at NHL Draft Lottery

Minnesota has a nearly 10 percent chance of moving into the top-3 at this summer's NHL Draft

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /

ST. PAUL -- For the first time in seven years, the Wild will take part in the NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday night in Toronto. 

How lucky can the Wild get? If things fall just the right way, Minnesota could pick inside the top three of the draft for the first time since the club's inaugural season.

It could even gain the top pick and the option to select American-born forward Jack Hughes or Finnish prospect Kaapo Kakko, the consensus top prospects available in this year's draft.

Minnesota will have to beat some long odds to have that opportunity, however. The Wild has a 3 percent chance of obtaining the first overall pick. 

The NHL Draft Lottery is actually three separate lotteries, one for each of the first three picks. The process behind how teams are selected is actually quite complicated.

Each team is assigned a sequence of four numbers, and those with better odds have more sequences. Then 14 numbered balls are put into a machine with four pulled out. That sequence is cross-referenced with the chart outlining possible outcomes and a team assigned to those numbers.

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All balls are re-entered into the machine again and there is a drawing for the second pick, and again for the third pick.

If Minnesota doesn't win the first overall selection, its odds for the second pick will improve slightly (3.3 percent), and the same for the third (3.6 percent). Overall, there is a 9.8 percent chance the Wild moves into one of the top three spots.

Ten teams finished behind the Wild in the standings, so if none of the teams ahead of Minnesota in the standings wins the lottery, the Wild will own the 11th overall pick. There is a 69.6 percent chance of this scenario taking place.

Minnesota could, of course, move back, should a team or teams ahead of them in the standings win the lottery.

There is a 19.4 percent chance the Wild could fall one spot to 12th and a 1.1 percent chance it could even pick 13th.

The current lottery setup has been in place for just three years.

First implemented in 1995, lottery protocol remained the same for nearly two decades. Rules dictated that teams could not move up more than four spots in the draft order -- meaning only teams finishing in the bottom five of the NHL standings had a chance at the first overall pick. 

That changed in 2014, when all teams in the lottery had a chance to obtain the top selection. 

Two years later, picks two and three were also awarded in the lottery. 

Just twice in the last seven years has the team with the best odds actually obtained the first overall pick. One of those times was last year, when Buffalo had the worst record in the League and wound up selecting Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin at the top of the draft. 

In 2016, Toronto picked Auston Matthews first overall after having finishing with the fewest points. 

Two years ago, the New Jersey Devils jumped all the way from fifth to first in the draft after winning the lottery. That's the biggest jump of any team since each team was given a chance at the first pick in 2014. 


Chance at obtaining the first overall pick

Colorado (from Ottawa)


Los Angeles


New Jersey






N.Y. Rangers




















While Minnesota hasn't held a lottery pick since 2012, it has had some good picks in its past three lottery selections. 

Seven years ago, the Wild picked defenseman Matt Dumba seventh overall. Minnesota picked Jonas Brodin with the 10th pick in 2011 and Mikael Granlund ninth overall in 2010.

Minnesota has moved up in the draft lottery just once in its history, in 2005, when selection rules were altered the year after an NHL lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season. The Wild was among a group of 10 teams that should have picked anywhere from fifth to 15th overall, but moved up to fourth, where it selected Canadian forward Benoit Pouliot.

The Ottawa Senators finished this season with the fewest points in the NHL, and the best chances of obtaining the first overall pick. But they traded this pick to Colorado in the three-team deal involving Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris on Nov. 5, 2017, meaning the playoff-bound Avalanche could also add the first overall selection to its arsenal this summer.

The results of the Draft Lottery will be revealed live on NBCSN during a one-hour show beginning on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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