Saturday, April 27, 2013

Five Scenarios for Calgary 1st Round Pick

Heading into the final weekend of this abbreviated NHL season, there is still great mystery around where the Flames own first round draft pick will end up. It could be as high as 1st, it could be as low as 7th, and there are three other possibilities in-between.

Of the little we do know for certain, Calgary won't pick 2nd and won't pick 3rd. Of course, that's barring a trade and don't rule that out, the old 'I'll give you our two lower first round picks for your one higher first round pick', but that's all juicy debate for another day and such endless possibilities are not part of what I'm breaking down today.

Here are the five scenarios for where that Flames first pick could end up for the June 30 draft in New Jersey along with how each could happen. Just for fun, I've included my own odds of that particular scenario unfolding.

1st Pick (odds of it happening, my guess - 8%)

This requires winning the NHL lottery and regardless of the outcome of Saturday's games and where the Flames finish up in the overall standings, they will still have a chance of jumping up to No. 1 thanks to the new NHL Draft lottery rules for 2013.

In previous years, only the bottom five teams had a chance at moving up to first pick. While any non-playoff team could win the lottery in the past, you could only move up a maximum of four spots. So if you finished 25th where the Flames wake up this morning and you won the lottery, you could only move up to second pick.

That's all different now and while the odds of winning the lottery get increasingly more extreme the higher up in the standings you finish, any of the 14 non-playoff teams has a chance at winning the lottery.

The odds for the Flames winning the lottery would be:
  • 10.7% if Carolina picks up a point in Pittsburgh Saturday and Nashville wins in Columbus.
  • 8.1% if just one of the above results happen
  • 6.2% if neither of the above results happen

4th Pick (odds of it happening, my guess - 12%)

For Calgary to drop down two more rungs into 27th in the overall standings, this hinges on favourable outcomes in the two games mentioned above. Here are the match-ups in a nutshell.

  • Carolina at Pittsburgh (5:30 pm MT) - Jordan Staal and his brothers playing against his former team. Could that be motivation for the Hurricanes? You bet. However, equally motivated to close the season with a victory are the Penguins who have lost their last two games and would prefer not to enter the post-season on a three-game losing skid. As for Pittsburgh's health concerns, word is that Sidney Crosby will not play Saturday but James Neal and Paul Martin will return.

  • Nashville at Columbus (5:00 pm MT) - This could be considered the most important game in franchise history for the Blue Jackets, who need to win and hope for help to make the playoffs for the second time. They're at home, too, so it's going to take something special from Nashville to knock them off.  That said, Minnesota had everything to play for Friday night and Edmonton had nothing yet the Oilers waltzed into the Xcel Energy Center and handed it to the Wild 6-1 so you just never know.

What are the odds of both Carolina and Nashville winning?  Well, if you took those two teams tonight on a Sports Select ticket and added in a heavy favourite as your third game, e.g. Anaheim at home vs. Phoenix, a $20 wager would win you $300 if you got all three games correct. So in short, the odds of this happening and in your best English accent -- not bloody likely.

However, if both happened and the draft lottery was won by one of the bottom three teams -- Tampa Bay, Carolina and Florida, and combined there is a 58% chance of that happening, then Calgary would remain as the fourth pick.

5th Pick (odds of it happening, my guess - 25%)

The Flames have never had a top five pick since the franchise moved to Calgary. This could change if just one of the two outcomes detailed above happened -- either Carolina gets a point or Nashville wins.

In such a scenario, Calgary would finish 26th and be in that fifth draft slot, which comes with 76.8% odds of staying in the top five -- 8.1% chance of winning the lottery and moving to first pick, and a 68.7% chance that one of the four teams below them wins the lottery and the Flames remain at fifth pick.

6th Pick (odds of it happening, my guess - 45%)

This is, by far, the most likely scenario and it reflects where Calgary is this morning, which is 25th place overall. The Flames would remain there if the two favourites win tonight -- Pittsburgh beats Carolina in regulation and Columbus beats Nashville.

The odds of the Flames remaining in the top six after the lottery are 83% -- 6.2% chance of winning the lottery and moving to No. 1 pick, and a 76.8% chance that one of the five teams below them wins the lottery and Calgary stays right where they are.

7th Pick (odds of it happening, my guess - 10%)

This is the worst-case scenario for the Flames. It means the two results they hoped for Saturday night didn't pan out. Further, at the draft lottery on Monday night, a team that finished higher than the Flames in the overall standings bucks the odds and wins the lottery and jumps to No. 1. The ripple effect of that is Calgary dropping down one draft position.

If Calgary entered the draft lottery in that sixth draft slot, there is a 17% chance a team like Philadelphia, Dallas or Winnipeg could win the lottery and bump the Flames down to seventh pick.

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