Monday, March 31, 2008

2008 Draft Lottery and the Thrashers

The Atlanta Thrashers are in contention for winning the 2008 draft lottery for the top pick, by virtue of being the third from the bottom in points. The draft lottery will be held one week from today on April 7, at 8pm. It will be carried live on Canadian sports channel TSN for those Canadian readers who want to tune in.

Currently the Thrashers are on target to get the No. 3 pick, and if the standings don't change, have a 14.20% chance of moving up to the first pick.

Here's the percentage chance of getting the pick based on final finish in the league:

30th -- 48.20%
29th -- 18.80%
28th -- 14.20%
27th -- 10.70%
26th -- 8.10%

All 14 non-playoff teams have chances in the lottery, but a team can only move up four spots in the order. Teams 6-14 have very low percentages and thus rarely win.

Here are the updated standing point totals, following Atlanta's win over Tampa.

30th LA - 69 pts
29th TB - 71
28th ATL - 74
27th STL - 74
26th NYI - 76

The last-place team has a lower than 50% chance of keeping the pick (48.2%), which is designed to keep teams from tanking the season. It was put into place after the Pittsburgh Penguins pretty clearly did just that in order to secure the rights of one Mario Lemieux in the 1980s.

In recent history, rarely has the lowest-finishing team retained the pick, making the actual outcome much less than 50% retention. It happened in 2006, but that was the only time since the turn of the century. The Thrashers were one of many "lucky" teams in recent years.

Recent draft lottery outcomes:

2000 - NY Islanders (slotted 5th, moved to 1st)
2001 - Atlanta (slotted 3rd, moved to 1st) - picked Ilya Kovalchuk
2002 - Florida (slotted 3rd, moved to 1st)
2003 - Florida (slotted 4th, moved to 1st
2004 - Washington (slotted 3rd, moved to 1st)
2005 - Pittsburgh (all teams had a chance at 1st)
2006 - St. Louis (retained 1st overall pick)
2007 - Chicago (slotted 5th, moved to 1st)

The 2008 NHL Entry Draft will be held June 20-21 in Ottawa.

The consensus No. 1 is Steven Stamkos, a center. Los Angeles and Tampa Bay don't have a big need for a center, so either of them trading the pick is not out of the question.

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