The draft lottery is at 8 p.m. Monday on the NHL Network. Since the Lightning has a chance at the No. 1 overall pick, I fi" />

Joe Smith

Draft lottery is Monday

3

April

The draft lottery is at 8 p.m. Monday on the NHL Network. Since the Lightning has a chance at the No. 1 overall pick, I figured this is a good time to explain how this thing works. It is not simple.

The drawing involves the 14 non-playoff teams or the clubs that acquired the first-round pick of those teams. They are ranked in reverse order based on the fewest number of regular season points. No team can move up more than four spots. That means only the five worst teams have a chance at the No. 1 pick. And no team can fall more than one position. If the drawing were held today, the Lightning would start in the No. 2 spot, meaning it would be guaranteed one of the top three picks.

Fourteen balls numbered 1 to 14 will be placed in a lottery machine. Four balls will be spit out. The resulting four-number series will be matched against the 1,001 possible four-number combinations divided among the 14 clubs. One of the combinations will be dropped to even the percentages, which are as follows:

30th team: 25 percent (250 combinations)

29th team: 18.8 (188)

28th team: 14.2 (142)

27th team: 10.7 (107)

26th team: 8.1 (81)

25th team: 6.2 (62)

24th team: 4.7 (47)

23rd team: 3.6 (36)

22nd team: 2.7 (27)

21st team: 2.1 (21)

20th team: 1.5 (15)

19th team: 1.1 (11)

18th team: 0.8 (8)

17th team: 0.5 (5)

So, for example, if one of the combinations assigned to the No. 17 team comes up, that team would move to 21, teams that had been 21-18 would become 20-17 while all other teams remained the same. The lottery has no bearing on the draft position in subsequent rounds

Here is where finishing 30th is a huge advantage. Since the last nine teams cannot move into the top spot, their combined 232 four-digit combinations work in favor of the 30th-place team. That means 482 (250+232) of the 1,000 combinations will give the 30th-place team the No. 1 pick. That is a 48.2 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick which almost everyone assumes will be NHL-ready center Steve Stamkos.

Still, only three times since the lottery began in 1995 has the No. 30 team retained the top pick: the Blues in 2006, Bruins in 1997 and Senators in 1996.