The wait is almost over.
The Blue Jackets, along with 15 other non-playoff teams, will officially find out where they’ll pick June 28 in Nashville after the NHL holds its annual draft lottery Monday.
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The 2023 class is a bumper crop, especially at the top, but one name stands out.
Connor Bedard, a high-scoring center for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, is considered the top prospect and is expected to be a franchise-altering player ― akin to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid and Toronto. Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews. The Blue Jackets hold the second-highest odds, which has prompted many to use Tankathon’s NHL lottery simulator while daydreaming of a future Stanley Cup parade in Columbus.
Here are five questions about the NHL draft lottery:
What’s at stake for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL draft lottery?
Should the right number combination turn up in the first of two draws, Columbus could pick first overall to start the draft. Barring a shocking decision, that would mean Bedard will join the Blue Jackets.
They already have an impressive stable of young talent developing around stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine, so adding Bedard would instantly give the Jackets a boost to the top spot among NHL prospect pools.
Should they not get the top pick, forwards Adam Fantilli (University of Michigan), Will Smith (US national team development program), Leo Carlsson (SHL) or Matvei Michkov (KHL) can also give the Blue Jackets a major lift.
How is the NHL draft lottery conducted?
Two separate draws determine the first two picks and the results will be announced in a television broadcast at 8 pm Monday on ESPN. The actual draws were conducted earlier at NHL Network’s studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. That process is overseen by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and witnessed by select media and team representatives who are sequestered until the broadcast is complete.
Each of the league’s 16 non-playoff teams are assigned a set of four-number combinations based on their percentage odds to win, but teams 12-16 can only move up 10 spots. That means their collective odds of winning the first pick are combined and added to the 32n.d-place team, which automatically gets the top pick if one of those teams wins the first draw.
That boosts the odds for the 32n.d place team, the Anaheim Ducks, from 18.5% to 25.5%. The Blue Jackets finished 31stst and have a 13.5% chance to win the top pick.
Each draw is conducted using 14 plastic balls drawn individually out of a lottery machine to form a four-number combination. Prior to the draw, one combination is selected at random and designated “re-draw” to produce an even 1,000 four-number combinations.
The second drawing removes the winner of the first draw and each remaining team’s odds go up accordingly.
What are the Blue Jackets’ odds of winning the NHL draft lottery?
The Blue Jackets were randomly assigned 135 number combinations based on their 13.5% odds to win the first pick. They finished with one more point than the Ducks, which means they could have gotten Anaheim’s 25.5% odds by winning one fewer game in regulation or two fewer in overtime.
Teams cannot drop more than two spots, so the lowest the Blue Jackets will pick is fourth. Following the draft order, the first two picks are determined by reverse standings finish.
Have the Blue Jackets ever won the NHL lottery?
Columbus has never won the first overall pick in the Blue Jackets’ 22-year history, but did win one draw in 2016 to move from fourth to third. That was the draft when general manager Jarmo Kekalainen stunned experts by selecting center Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third pick instead of Jessi Puljujarvi.
Dubois was selected one pick after the Winnipeg Jets took Laine and two picks after Auston Matthews went first overall to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Laine and Dubois were traded for each other in January 2021.
The Blue Jackets did select first in 2002, taking Rick Nash, but that was orchestrated in a trade with the Florida Panthers. In all, the Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 as a lottery team eligible to win the top pick.
Will the Blue Jackets’ draft slot factor into their coaching search?
Winning the top pick could deepen the pool of available candidates with extensive NHL experience.
Who wouldn’t want to coach a team with Bedard that’s also looking to emerge from a rebuild process with a talented young roster developing around Gaudreau, Laine, Zach Werenski and Boone Jenner?
Likewise, the Blue Jackets might be less inclined to choose a coach without a long record of NHL success if they get the first pick. A third or fourth pick might have the opposite effect, opening the search to a wider field of candidates.
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Blue Jackets and the NHL draft lottery: 5 questions