The Draft Lottery, By The Numbers

Much has been made about the draft lottery formula that will determine who will get the chance to draft Canadian phenom Sidney Crosby (left). I even bitched about it (shocking). But a closer look at the numbers make clear what we already knew - that whoever wins the lottery will have had Lady Luck on their side and a horseshoe up their arse. Consider:
  • The four teams with the best chances of landing the #1 overall pick - Buffalo, Columbus, N.Y. Rangers and Pittsburgh - each have only a 6.25% chance of doing so. Compare that with the last draft in which Pittsburgh (the team with the fewest points during the regular season) had a 25% chance of winning the lottery (and of course didn't).
  • Put another way, Pittsburgh had as much chance of winning the lottery in the last go 'round as the top four teams combined do this year.
  • In fact, the sixth-worst team in '03-'04 had about a 6.2% chance of nabbing the #1 pick, the same odds as this year's "Most Likely To Succeed".
  • There is a 93.75% chance that the Rangers will not win the draft lottery. Huzzah!
  • It is more likely that one of Detroit (109 points in '03-'04), Tampa (106) or Boston (104) will win the top pick than that Chicago (59) will, and an equal chance that one of San Jose (104), Ottawa (103) or Toronto (102) will win the lottery as there is that Columbus (62) will.
  • There is a 21% chance that the team that wins the lottery has made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and the same odds that the team that wins the lottery had 100+ points in '03-'04.
Bottom line? If the fix is in for the Rangers to win it, so be it - better Crosby end up in New York than on a team that's already stacked. The weighted lottery should, in fairness, be weighted a little more heavily towards the League's weaker teams. Why penalize only the teams that have won the draft lottery by removing a ball (à la Lance Armstrong)? Why not then take half a ball away from a team that's gotten the 2nd pick and a quarter for the 3rd? It seems somewhat arbitrary, but at the end of the day really makes no difference. More to the point, under the new deal, who's to say which team is "weaker" as between Detroit (who has 16 players under contract for a whopping $38.2 million) and Buffalo (9 players under contract for just over $9 million)?

It's just a shame that a player like Crosby has to come along when the League's house is in such disarray and a player that could change the sport might end up on a team or in a market that really doesn't need him. Personally, besides obviously wanting to see Sid centering Alex Ovechkin in Washington, I think the kid would look great in black and purple - send him to Hollywood (4.16% chance).

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