NHL announces Draft Lottery Format Changes

NEW YORK (March 23, 2021) –The National Hockey League announced today changes to its Draft Lottery, a weighted system implemented and utilized to determine the order of selection in the first round of the NHL Draft for the Clubs not qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (or the Clubs that have acquired the first-round drafting positions of those non-playoff teams).

The changes, approved by League’s Board of Governors, will reduce the likelihood of the worst-finishing Club dropping in the Draft Order and not retaining the right to the First Overall Selection; reduce the magnitude of any possible drop in Draft Order for the worst-finishing Club; limit the number of Clubs (based on final Regular Season standing) that are eligible to win the right to the First Overall Selection in the Draft; and limit the number of times in a defined time period that the same Club can benefit from winning a Draft Lottery Draw.

(1) Number of Lottery Draws Reduced

The number of Lottery Draws will be reduced from three to two. This will limit the number of selections the worst finishing Club can drop in the final Draft Order. Whereas, currently, the Worst-Finishing Club can drop from the First Overall position to the Fourth Overall position in Draft Order (as happened in each of 2017, 2019 and 2020), the lowest the Worst-Finishing Club could drop would be to the Third Overall position.

(2) “Move-Up” Limitation Set

There will be a limit on the total number of selections – 10, a Club participating in the Draft Lottery can “move up” in the event it wins one of the Draft Lottery Draws. The result will be that the number of teams eligible to select First Overall in any given year will be reduced from 16 total teams to 11 total teams.

(3) Limit on Teams Winning a Lottery Draw

No single team will be able to advance in the Draft order by reason of winning a Lottery Draw more than two (2) times in any five (5) year period. This limitation will not affect a Club’s ability to retain its presumptive Draft position in any Draft Lottery, nor would it preclude the possibility of the Club moving down in Draft Order to the extent other Clubs advance by reason of winning the Lottery Draws. For purposes of clarity, the limitation would attach to the team, not the specific pick.

By way of example, if a Club were to win the first Lottery Draw as the 7th Worst-Finishing Club in Year 1 (thereby earning the First Overall Selection in the succeeding Draft), and the second Lottery Draw as the 13th Worst-Finishing Club in Year 3 (thereby earning the Third Overall Selection in the succeeding Draft), that Club would no longer be eligible to benefit by winning a Lottery Draw in either of Year 4 or Year 5, and would not be able to benefit again by winning the Draft Lottery (or either of the Draft Lottery Draws) until Year 6 at the earliest.

“Phase-In” Schedule

Given the unique characteristics of this season, including a shortened Regular Season schedule (56 games), as well as Club schedules that are comprised exclusively of intra-Division games, some of these changes will be “phased-in” (as opposed to an immediate implementation), on the following schedule:

(1) The reduction in the number of Draft Lottery Draws from three to two is being implemented for the 2021 Draft Lottery (and beyond).

(2) The limitation on “move up” and the limitation on benefiting from Draft Lottery “wins” over a five-year period is being implemented for the 2022 Draft Lottery (and beyond). The limitation on benefiting from Draft Lottery “wins” will be forward-looking only and will not be retroactive. Therefore, no Club will be able to move-up in the Draft Order by reason of winning a Lottery Draw any more than two (2) times during the period of 2022 through 2026.


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