Monday, April 14, 2014

Do-it-Yourself NHL Draft Lottery - 2014 Version

It's finally going to happen.

For the first time in 41 years and the very first time since the franchise relocated to Calgary in 1980, the Flames will have a top-five pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The franchise last picked in the top five in 1973 when Tom Lysiak from the Medicine Hat Tigers was selected second overall by Atlanta.

We'll know for sure how the NHL Draft Lottery will shake down on Tuesday at 6 pm MT when TSN will turn the selection of one team to move to No. 1, a process that takes less than a second given the result is computer-generated, into an 'enthralling' 30 minute television event.

But, who can blame them. They know they'll have millions of eyes on them, especially with the new draft lottery rules that took effect last year in which any of the 14 non-playoff teams could win the lottery and secure that coveted first overall pick. Sure, the odds are better of Buffalo (1 in 4 chance) winning than Washington (1 in 200), but anything can happen.

But, why wait for Tuesday night -- Hold your own NHL Draft Lottery today!

By following my easy five-step, do-it-yourself NHL Draft lottery instructions, you can play the role of James DuthieBob McKenzie or any of your favourite TSN hockey personalities and re-create the NHL Draft Lottery event in your own garage, or living room, or even in your kitchen and you can do it right now.

There are two versions -- the simple version, tailored for Calgary Flames fans, and an advanced version.

NHL Draft Lottery Simulation - Simple Version

This version is specific for Calgary Flames fans and will allow you to hold the lottery, then hold it again, then again, and again, and you can keep going until the Flames win it and get the No. 1 pick. Then, you can go to bed Monday night and have blissful dreams of Sam Reinhart, or Aaron Ekblad, or whoever you have tabbed as the best of the bunch.

Step 1 - You need 48 of something and a bowl to put them in. I recommend buying a box of Alpha-Bits cereal -- inexpensive, plentiful and the letters can come in handy in the advanced version (below) to help distinguish the teams. Plus, when you're done, just add milk and have some delicious breakfast.

Step 2 - To mimic the 10.7% odds of the Flames winning the lottery, you'll need to designate five of the 48 Alpha-Bits as Calgary. That's pretty easy, grab five of the letter 'C' and throw them in your bowl.

Step 3 - To mimic the 31.3% odds that a team that finished higher in the overall standings than Calgary wins the lottery and jumps all the way to No. 1, subsequently dropping the Flames down one pick to No. 5, we need a way to designate 15 of the 48 objects as this scenario. With the Alpha-Bits, let's use the vowels for this. So grab an assortment of 15 A's, E's, I's, etc. and add them to the bowl.

Step 4 - To mimic the 58.0% odds that one of the top three teams win the lottery -- Buffalo, Florida or Edmonton, which would subsequently have no impact on the Flames draft position, we'll use consonants other than 'C'. So grab an assortment of 28 B's, D's, G's, etc. and add those to the bowl.

Step 5 - Stir up all the Alpha-Bits so they're nicely mixed up although don't be too truculent with your stirring as you don't want to smash the letters. Then, close your eyes, cross your fingers and pick one.
  • If you pick a 'C', Flames win the lottery and choose No. 1
  • If you pick a consonant, Buffalo, Florida, Edmonton win the lottery, Flames remain at pick No. 4
  • If you pick a vowel, Flames fall one draft spot to pick No. 5

So, how do the odds in this breakfast cereal simulation compare with the odds in real life?  It's actually very, very close.

In Real Life - Flames have 10.7% chance of picking 1st, 31.3%* chance of dropping to No. 5
In the Simulation - Flames have 10.4% chance of picking 1st, 31.25% chance of dropping to No. 5

Note: A caveat with this year's draft is NJ is not allowed to win the lottery. There's a 1.1% chance of this happening but if it does, there will be a re-draw. This is part of the Devils punishment for the Ilya Kovalchuk contract fiasco from a couple years ago.

NHL Draft Lottery Simulation - Advanced Version

With this version, you can take your NHL Draft lottery re-creation to the next level by not just determining Calgary's fate, but actually learning who, specifically, does win the lottery and if it's the Oilers, you can let out a 'phew' and be relieved that it's just a simulation.

Step 1 - Same as above. You need 48 of something. Again, I recommend Alpha-Bits.

Step 2 - Assuming you're using Alpha-Bits, you need to allot a certain number of a certain letter to all of the primary teams involved in the lottery. Here are my recommendations for what letter to use for each team and how many Alpha-Bits each team will get.
  • Buffalo (B) - 12
  • Florida (F) -  9
  • Edmonton (E) - 7
  • Calgary (C) - 5
  • NY Islanders (N) - 4
  • Vancouver (V) - 3
  • Carolina (H) - 2
  • Other (O) - 6

Step 3 - Put all of the objects into a bowl and shuffle them up.

Step 4 - Close your eyes, cross your fingers and pick one.

Step 5 - If you pick a letter 'O' for "Other", that means one of the long-shot teams ranked 17th to 23rd in the final standings -- Toronto, Winnipeg, Phoenix, Anaheim (from Ottawa), New Jersey (see above note), Nashville, or Washington -- wins the lottery and everyone on the list above will drop down one draft spot.

No, that doesn't help you with which of those seven long-shot teams actually wins it, but unless we want to get into the messy job of using several hundred Alpha-Bits and nobody wants to do that, that's as precise as this simulation gets. Sorry.

How do the the odds of our simulation compare with the odds in real life? Again, it's very close. Below are the real percentages followed in brackets by the percentages based on a bowl of 48 Alpha-Bits.

Buffalo - 25% (25%)
Florida - 18.8% (18.8%)
Edmonton - 14.2% (14.6%)
Calgary - 10.7% (10.4%)
NY Islanders - 8.1% (8.3%)
Vancouver - 6.2% (6.25%)
Carolina - 4.7% (4.2%)
Other - 12.3% (12.5%)

Have fun and remember, don't add milk to your bowl of Alpha-Bits until after you've held your lottery.

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