Last night, the VS Network held a primetime special to conduct the 2008 NHL Entry Draft Lottery, which determines the sequence teams will select in at the summer’s draft. The program filled around ten or fifteen minutes of airtime by name-dropping former 1st-overall picks, chatting at a table with the general managers of the five teams with a chance of drawing the first pick (never really explaining the math in detail, just showing a graphic with the five teams and their percentages of winning the lottery), and offering a few live shots of projected first overall choice, OHL Sarnia Sting centerman Steven Stamkos.

After this fluff, it was time to find out which lucky team would choose first overall this summer.
According to the list of mystery percentages, the Tampa Bay Lightning had roughly a 48 % chance to get the 1st overall choice. The other four teams with a mathematical shot of choosing first were the Blues, Islanders, Kings, and Thrashers. The NHL has some type of weighted, reverse-sequence lottery where the weakest teams are sure to pick high; the complex system, unexplained in the show, is poorly described on (for those of you with a graduate degree in Statistics from M.I.T.).

The Lightning upheld the mathematics of probability by landing the 1st-overall pick. The top five choices were announced, for reasons of sweaty, nail-biting suspense (sarcasm, kids), in reverse order: the L.A. Kings wound up with the 2nd pick; the Atlanta Thrashers will be 3rd; the St. Louis Blues are going to choose 4th; and the N.Y. Islanders hold the 5th selection.

Again, the consensus prize of choosing first overall is Steven Stamkos of the Ontario Hockey League club the Sarnia Sting. Stamkos, a 6’1", 183 lb. center, is likely to jump right into the pro game with an immediate impact for the team that selects and signs him. In 61 OHL games with the Sting, Stamkos has tallied 58 goals and 47 assists for a total of 105 points (around 1.72 pts/game… much easier to calculate than the NHL draft pick weights). Despite his value, it’s not unthinkable that the Lightning could move this pick between now and draft day. This year’s draft is reportedly very deep and the Lightning have a bona-fide #1 center in Vincent LeCavalier.

For readers who root for teams that missed the playoffs, but weren’t awful enough to be a basement-five club in the running for 1st overall, the complete sequence of the top fourteen picks is below:

1. Tampa Bay Lightning
2. L.A. Kings
3. Atlanta Thrashers
4. St. Louis Blues
5. N.Y. Islanders
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
8. Phoenix Coyotes
9. Florida Panthers
10. Vancouver Canucks
11. Chicago Blackhawks
12. Edmonton Oilers
13. Buffalo Sabres

About The Author

Jason Morrini is a Blast Magazine correspondent

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