Wednesday, April 2, 2008

You Have to Be In It to Win It

The Islanders finish off their season this Friday at the World's Most Infamous Arena, and it's very tempting to look for a nice, quiet hockey-free space to settle into starting on Saturday morning. Other than hoping for an early playoff exit from our blue-shirted friends in Manhattan, there's little joy in watching hockey's "second season" ramp up without the Islanders. It usually takes at least one round before I can get past the sting of another unsuccessful season.

But this year's a bit different from the last several. Mark your calendars for this coming Monday, April 7. Both Versus and the NHL Network will be televising the 2008 Scotiabank NHL Draft Lottery at 8PM EST. This holds the potential to be a historic day for the franchise. Specifically, we likely have a 8.1% chance of this being a great day for the Islanders.

Here's how it all works. Each of the 14 non-playoff team is entered into the lottery. Your odds of winning the lottery are weighted, based on your point total from the regular season. So the team with the lowest point total (30th place team) has a 25% chance of winning the lottery, the 29th place team has a 18.8% chance...etc. It all goes down to the 17th place team with a 0.5% chance of winning. You can see all of the odds here. The team that wins the lottery will move up 4 spots in the draft.

So what does this mean for the Islanders? At this point, it's very likely that the Islanders will finish in either 26th or 27th place in the league, based on regular season points. For the moment let's assume 26th, since that is where they stand today. In this spot, the Islanders hold the aforementioned 8.1% chance of winning the lottery. If that happens, they would move up from the 5th overall pick to the 1st overall pick. Hello, Steven Stamkos! If they fail to win the lottery, they would either draft fifth or sixth, depending on which team wins it.

So how excited should we allow ourselves to get? Well, the last time a team jumped from the #5 pick to the top spot happened all the way back in 2007 when the Blackhawks literally hit the lottery and snagged Patrick Kane. So why not two years in a row? Oh, and the time before that where a team jumped from fifth to first? 2000, when the little ol' NY Islanders drafted Rick DiPietro.

Unlike in the NFL, where top picks frequently fail at the professional level, holding the #1 pick in the NHL is as close to a sure thing as you can get. In the last 11 years, here are a sampling of the top picks - Crosby, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Thornton, Nash, DiPietro, Kane, Lecavalier. So on Monday night, I'll climb out of my hockey-free cocoon in the hopes that the hockey gods are smiling on Long Island.

1 comment:

Fish Bulb said...

Where's Yolanda Vega when you need her? We need her oeprating the ball machine. Go Isles!!