How does the NHL Draft Lottery work? Explaining the odds, rules for landing the No. 1 pick

Tuesday night, the NHL will find out the order of the first 16 picks in the 2024 NHL Draft, as the draft lottery is set to take place.

Unlike the NFL, the NHL does not immediately award the No. 1 pick in the draft to the last-place team. The league follows a similar strategy as the NBA and MLB, using a lottery system to determine the order of picks.

In recent years, the NHL has added a few restrictions and rules to the lottery process in order to ensure the worst teams have the higher picks. 

The Sporting News has fans covered on the rules, restrictions, and more to know about the draft lottery. 

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How does the NHL Draft Lottery work?

The 16 teams that do not make the playoffs are assigned an odds percentage based on where they finished in the standings.

The lower the team is, the higher their odds are at the top pick. Therefore, the team that finishes last has the best odds at landing the No. 1 pick, but it’s not guaranteed. 

At the draft lottery, there will be two draws: one for the No. 1 pick and one for No. 2. This is a change from three drawings in the past for the top three picks. 

NHL Draft Lottery rules

The NHL implemented a few new changes to the rules of the lottery a couple of seasons ago that limit how far up certain teams can go. The 2024 draft is the third such year that these new restrictions have been put into place. 

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One of the two new rules that have been implemented at the 2022 draft is that teams will be restricted from moving up more than 10 spots if they win one of the lottery draws. So whichever teams are slotted between No. 12-16 cannot get the No. 1 pick. If they do win either the No. 1 or No. 2 drawing, they will move up 10 spots in the order, but that is it. 

The other rule change is that teams cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span. Any wins in the lottery prior to 2022 will not be counted toward this total, so 2022 marks the beginning of any team’s five-year period. 

For example, if the Blackhawks were to win the draft lottery again this year, they would not be eligible to receive the No. 1 pick again until 2027, since they received the top pick in 2023 and 2024. 

After the first two picks have been determined, the rest of the field will be slotted in order of where they finished in the standings. This ensures that the team with the worst record cannot fall any further than third. 

NHL Draft Lottery odds 2024

Here is how the NHL lottery odds system is broken down. The rankings are determined by going backward in the standings, so the team that finishes worst is first. 

The Sharks finished with the worst record in the 2023-24 season, so they have the highest chance at landing the first overall pick. 

Team Chance at No. 1 pick
San Jose Sharks 18.5%
Chicago Blackhawks 13.5%
Anaheim Ducks 11.5%
Columbus Blue Jackets 9.5%
Montreal Canadiens 8.5%
Utah (formerly Arizona Coyotes)  7.5%
Ottawa Senators 6.5%
Seattle Kraken 6.0%
Calgary Flames 5.0%
New Jersey Devils 3.5%
Buffalo Sabres 3.0%
Philadelphia Flyers 2.5%
Minnesota Wild 2.0%
Pittsburgh Penguins* 1.5%
Detroit Red Wings 0.5%
St. Louis Blues 0.5%
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*If the Penguins’ 2024 1st-round pick becomes a top-10 pick as a result of the Draft Lottery, Pittsburgh will have the option to transfer its 2025 1st-round pick to San Jose instead of its 2024 1st-round pick. This is a result of the Erik Karlsson trade. 

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