Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Flames Three First Round Picks - Best case, Worst case scenarios

How the NHL Draft Lottery Works - In a Nutshell

The draft lottery works differently this year than in past years and no, it's not because of the shortened season. This is the new way it works moving forward.
  • Only the 14 non-playoff teams can win the lottery. The odds vary from 25% chance for the team in 30th (Florida) to a 0.5% chance for the team in 17th (Columbus). Odds for each team can be seen here.
  • When the drum roll ends and the ball pops out of the NHL's magic lottery machine, whoever it is -- that team gets pick No. 1 in the first round. The ripple effect is whoever was supposed to pick ahead of that team originally, then sees their pick drop down by one.
  • And then... well, there is no "and then".  That's all that happens -- one lottery ball and it's all over. Done. Finished. There's a 1-in-4 chance the Panthers win the lottery and the draft order remains exactly as it is right now -- wouldn't that be anticlimactic. This will be turned into a 30 minute television event, you can be certain, but that's the extent of the action that takes place.
As for the three draft picks that Calgary owns -- it's own, plus the pick belonging to St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Their own pick hinges on the lottery outcome exclusively while the other two depend on playoff results so won't be certain for a couple more months -- although I approximate where they will end up in this article.

Below is the best case scenario, worse case scenario and what I think is the most likely scenario for each of those three picks ending up:

Calgary's Own Draft Pick

Best Case
- 1st

This requires winning the draft lottery but the odds are not good. By finishing 25th overall or sixth-last, that gets the Flames just a 6.2% chance that the ball with the Flaming 'C' pops out of the NHL draft lottery machine when the drama unfolds on Monday, Apr. 29. It's the equivalent of a 1-in-16 chance.

Worst Case - 7th

For this to happen, it would require one of the eight teams that finished higher than the Flames in the overall standings to win the lottery. Collectively, there's a 17% chance of that happening. If it did, however, that team jumps all the way to No. 1 and as a result, the other teams all bump down one pick.

Most Likely Case - 6th

Simple math suggests this is the most likely spot Calgary will pick. The 76.8% chance of remaining at sixth pick represents the collective odds that one of the bottom five teams win the lottery so Calgary's draft spot goes unchanged.

St. Louis Draft Pick (from Jay Bouwmeester trade)

Best Case - 19th

By winning 11 of 14 to close the season (this run came after Jay Bouwmeester joined them), the Blues climbed all the way to sixth overall. To think, just making the playoffs was a question mark at one point. Here is the perfect storm of playoff outcomes Flames fans will be hoping for in order for this pick to end up inside the top 20.
  • St. Louis (4th seed in West, plays 5th seed L.A.) must lose in the first or second round -- it doesn't matter which of the two rounds.
  • Western final must consist of two non-division winning teams that finished below the Blues in the overall standings. Options are #5 Los Angeles, #6 San Jose, #7 Detroit, #8 Minnesota.
  • Eastern final must consist of two non-division winning teams that finished below the Blues in the overall standings. Options are #5 Toronto, #6 NY Rangers, #7 Ottawa, #8 NY Islanders.
In this scenario, the Stanley Cup winner gets 30th pick, the other finalist gets 29th. The two teams knocked out in the conference final get 27th and 28th. Next comes the division winners so Pit, Mtl, Wsh, Chi, Van, Ana would get picks from 21st thru 26th. Of the eight remaining teams, Boston had more points than the Blues so would get 20th. That leaves St. Louis at 19th.

Worst Case - 30th

If the Blues win the Stanley Cup, they pick last in the first round, it's that simple. Losing in the Stanley Cup final leaves the pick at 29th. If St. Louis stays hot and makes it to the Western Conference final, the pick would be no better than 27th and would be either that or 28th depending on the record of the team knocked out in the Eastern final.

Most Likely Case - 22nd

Here is what I think is most likely to occur:
  • St. Louis gets knocked out of the playoffs in the second round.
  • Western final will consist of two of the top three teams (I predict Anaheim and Chicago).
  • As there's always an upset somewhere, I predict it happens in the East and that the Eastern final will consist of Pittsburgh and an underdog from the bottom four teams.
In this scenario, the four conference finalists are assigned draft picks 27 to 30. Then comes the other three division winners, who are assigned picks 24 to 26. That leaves Boston, who will still finish higher than St. Louis and pick 23rd. The Blues then come next and would be assigned the 22nd pick.

Pittsburgh Draft Pick (from Jarome Iginla trade)

Best Case - 25th

For this scenario to shake down, here's what needs to occur:
  • Pittsburgh loses out in the first or second round of the playoffs
  • First overall finisher Chicago also loses out in the first or second round of playoffs
As mentioned, picks 27 to 30 are reserved for the four conference finalists. The division winners have their draft picks assigned next and since Chicago was the only team with a better record than Pittsburgh, the best a Flames fan can hope for is that the Blackhawks don't make the semi-finals so end up with 26th pick. That would drop the Pittsburgh pick down to 25th.

Worst Case - 30th

Same as above. If the Penguins win the Stanley Cup, they pick last in the first round. Flames fans definitely do not want to see a St. Louis-Pittsburgh Stanley Cup as that is the combined worst of the worst scenarios leaving those two acquired draft picks as 29th and 30th.

Most Likely Case - 29th

Pittsburgh makes it to the Stanley Cup final but sorry Iggy, they get knocked off by the West representative -- probably Chicago. But, the opponent doesn't matter as the bottom line is the draft pick ends up in the runner-up spot of second-last.

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