TORONTO, ON – APRIL 29: The balls for the fist overall pick are selected during the NHL Draft Lottery at the CBC Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 29, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers appear to be headed to the NHL Entry Draft lottery for the second straight year.  It’s really important for them to finish among the worst three teams in the league.

Sure, the win over Carolina was a step forward. The fact remains that the Rangers are 11 points out of a playoff spot, a huge gap to make up in the NHL with the overtime bonus point.  As much as Ranger fans don’t want to admit it, the team is headed to the lottery.

The goal of every team in the NHL Entry  Draft Lottery is to luck out and get the top pick. That’s the dream for the New York Rangers and the fourteen other teams lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to participate. You could see all of the GM’s drooling over Jack Hughes at the WJC Tournament.

If the top pick isn’t in your fate, a top five pick is the next best thing, the higher the better. This year there are a number of impact players other than Hughes available, led by Kaapo Kakko, Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach and Vasili Podkolzin.

If a team is looking  to draft a player who will make an immediate impact, the number one overall pick is pretty much a sure thing.  Since 2007, every single #1 pick has made it to the NHL in their draft year.

The next best thing would be a top three pick.  Since 2010 there have been 27 top three picks. 74% (20 of 27) were in the NHL in their draft year.  96% (26 of 27) of the 27 were regulars by the second year after the draft.

Top five picks are almost as good. Of the 45 top five picks since 2010, 60% (27 of 45) were in the NHL in their draft year and 80% (36 of 40) were regulars by their second year.  That number goes up to 92% if Barrett Hayton makes the Coyotes next season.

Getting a top five pick isn’t easy

The interesting thing about the draft lottery is that while every team has a shot at a top three pick, you have to finish in the bottom four to have a shot at a picks #1 through #5.   Most are not aware that every team that finishes from fifth to fifteenth place can only move DOWN, not up if they don’t make the top three.  The most those teams can move down is four spots.

A perfect example is last June.  The Rangers finished 8th from the bottom.  They slipped from the 8th to the 9th pick when Carolina jumped from 11th to second overall and drafted stud scorer Andrei Svechnikov. . The frustrating part is that the odds of the Hurricane getting the second pick were only 3.3%.  Carolina’s luck moved the Rangers down one spot to the 9th pick.  Chicago picked Adam Boqvist with the 8th pick.  There is no way of knowing if the Blueshirts would have taken Boqvist over Vitali Kravtsov, but they would have had the option.

The Arizona Coyotes had horrible luck in 2017 and it led to a trade with the Rangers.  They had the fourth worst record in the NHL. They ended up with the seventh pick when New Jersey (8.5%), Philadelphia (2.4%)  and Dallas (6.4%) all jumped ahead of them to get the top three picks in the draft. The Coyotes slipped to seventh overall and they traded that pick to the Rangers. That fourth pick could have been Elias Pettersson, Cale Makar or Cody Glass.

At any rate, if the Coyotes had retained that #4 pick, they probably wouldn’t have made the trade with the Rangers and Jeff Gorton would have had to find another taker for Derek Stepan.  So, the 2017 draft lottery had a much greater impact on the Blueshirts than simply the addition of Lias Andersson and Tony DeAngelo.  Fate.

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