As the NHL playoff picture comes into focus, a growing number of fan bases are left counting their ping-pong balls.
The race for Rasmus Dahlin, the presumptive No. 1 pick in June’s entry draft, is in full swing at the bottom of the standings, with teams like the Coyotes, Sabres and Senators hoping for the opportunity to select the generational Swedish defenseman as a salve for their pitiful seasons.
The “All in for Dahlin” movement hasn’t gained as many supporters as its tanking predecessors, though. And recent history suggests most anyone with a lottery pick — from the Canucks and Canadiens to the Red Wings or (gasp) Blackhawks — could swoop in and disrupt the order.
Remember: The NHL’s cruel, anti-tank odds allocation means nothing is guaranteed, rendering the great tankathons of 2014 and 2015 a dying art. The biggest “loser,” aka whichever team finishes dead last, has only an 18 percent at picking first overall — or an 82 percent chance of losing the lottery — and a 50/50 shot at falling out of the top three all together. That club can drop no lower than No. 4, but the talent disparity between Dahlin and the field is sizable.
In 2017, the Devils (8.517 percent), Flyers (2.204 percent) and Stars (5.812 percent) stunningly bumped the Avalanche, Canucks, Golden Knights and Coyotes (tied) from the top three, winning the rights to Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick. In 2016, the Jets nabbed Patrik Laine with the No. 2 pick despite holding the fifth-best odds.
Note that figures below are based on a rough estimate from Tankathon.com’s lottery simulator, which factors in previous drawings. The NHL doesn’t release official lottery odds until after the regular season.
Last update: March 13