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Fear of the NHL Draft Lottery

Calculating all of the odds on Saturday night

NHL Draft Lottery<br> Photo by Brad White/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche have an 18 percent chance to win the NHL Draft Lottery Saturday night. It’s the highest odds at number one, yet it’s lower than usual. Last year, the worst in the league Toronto Maple Leafs had a 20 percent chance to win the lottery. The Avs reduced odds come courtesy of the Las Vegas Knights, a team that has yet to play an NHL game, yet already has a better roster than the current Avs.

Colorado was the worst team in the shootout era last season. They finished 21 points worse than the Vancouver Canucks. They were two points shy of hitting 50 points. An NHL team can potentially earn 164 points during the course of a regular season. The Avs couldn’t even get a third of those possible points. This wasn’t a team tanking. This was flat out incompetence and embarrassment.

The Avs lost all season in a variety of ways. They blew leads, they had some bad luck, and they got blown out. Just about every Avs fan is 100 percent certain that they’ll somehow add one more loss to their record.

The Avs have a 52 percent chance at landing the fourth overall pick. I’m 85 percent sure that they’ll end up with the fifth pick. Rules and reality say that this can’t happen. But after the season the Avs endured, we can throw rules, reality, logic, and everything good out the window.

95 percent of me wants the league to rig the lottery in favor of the Avalanche. We deserve it, right? It’s not like we’re getting Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid. We’re getting Nolan Patrick. He’s a good player, but according to just about everyone, he’s not a franchise-changer. Given the Avs luck and development, he’ll probably be the next Nail Yakupov. Then again, given the Avs decision making, they’ll probably take Jake Oettinger, the top-ranked goalie scheduled to go sometimes in the second round.

The other 5 percent of me knows it is wrong to rig the lottery. That’s the same 5 percent that believes the Avs don’t deserve the number one overall pick. Why subject Patrick or Nico Hischier to this organization? Matt Duchene grew up admiring a man he ended up playing for and a man who is current his general manager. Listen to him talk now. He has been defeated by this organization. Management has failed to surround their top offensive forwards with sustainable pieces, they’ve done nothing to address the defense, their top goalie can’t stay healthy, and the coach quit prior to last season.

That’s the same 5 percent that hopes the Avs get the number two pick. They can’t screw that up, right? There’s no choice there. You take Nico or Nolan, whoever didn’t go #1. The less thinking the Avs brass has to do, the better.

I ran the NHL Lottery Simulator 82 times. Once for every regular season game. Here were the results:

The Avs won the lottery 15 times. That’s somehow less wins than they had during the regular season. They ended up with the fourth pick more times than they ended up with a top three pick. It makes sense, their odds to get the fourth pick are greater than their odds to get a top three pick combined.

If you want a lottery reality check, just play with the lottery simulator for a couple of minutes. You’ll grow more and more frustrated every time the Avs don’t end up in the top three.

I’m 99 percent dreading Saturday night.