Odds in Oilers' favour

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:12 PM ET

The odds are basically 2-to-1.

The Edmonton Oilers have a 48.2% chance of winning the No. 1 pick in the draft.

But while gamblers will tell you every spin of the wheel is independent of every spin which has gone on before, there is the question. Can the 30th-place team win the No. 1 pick four years in a row?

Edmonton (Taylor Hall), NY Islanders (John Tavares) and Tampa Bay (Steven Stamkos) all won the lottery after finishing last.

Other last-place teams to win the lottery were Ottawa in 1996 (Chris Phillips) Boston in 1997 (Joe Thornton) and St Louis in 2007 (Erik Johnson).

Twice — Los Angeles moving from seventh to third in 1995, and Chicago from eighth to fourth in 1999 — the lottery has been won by somebody out of the bottom five, and the last-place team retained the No. 1 pick. Because of the lockout, there was no lottery in 2005 and last-place Pittsburgh picked Sidney Crosby.

But for five straight years, from 2000 to 2004, the 30th-place team ended up selecting second as the fifth, third, third and fourth, and third-place teams moved up to No. 1. In 2007 Chicago moved from fifth to pick No. 1 and chose Patrick Kane.

No team sitting second has ever moved up to pick first.

Only one of the bottom-five teams in the league can win the first pick in the lottery. The lottery winner moves up five positions or into first.

The lottery actually takes place in the NHL offices in New York, where 14 numbered ping pong balls are placed in a bingo machine and four pop out. The combination of the four numbers matches one of 1,001 combinations. When the winner is identified, Daly and his team are informed in Toronto and the TV show begins. No one in New York is allowed out of the room or to have any communication until the show is over.

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terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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