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Yeah, Penguins Could Win NHL Draft Lottery, But …



Pittsburgh Penguins Jordan Staal: Photo by Michael Miller

The Pittsburgh Penguins did something this spring they hadn’t done since 2006: They failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

As a result, they’ll do something else they haven’t done in 17 years: Participate in an NHL draft lottery.

It’s scheduled for shortly after 8 p.m. Monday, and will settle precisely where the Penguins — and 15 other clubs — will select in the opening round of the NHL Draft June 28 in Nashville.

The Penguins enter the lottery in 14th place in the draft order, which is based on points earned during the regular season.

They have a 1.5 percent chance of winning the lottery, but because teams can move up no more than 10 spots in the draft order, would only select fourth, even if they do.

That means that even defying the overwhelming odds stacked against them would not be enough to get the Penguins the rights to Regina Pats center Connor Bedard, the most celebrated prospect available since Edmonton claimed Connor McDavid with the top choice in 2015.

Anaheim, which finished at the bottom of the overall standings in 2022-23, has the best chance of ending up with the No. 1 pick, 25.5 percent.

This year, for the first time, there will be a second drawing to determine which team will select No. 2 overall. The Penguins will not be eligible for that because of the rule limiting clubs to jumping 10 spots.

The last time the Penguins participated in a lottery, St. Louis retained the top choice and ultimately spent it on defenseman Erik Johnson.

The Penguins, picking second, selected Jordan Staal. Chicago (Jonathan Toews), Washington (Nicklas Backstrom) and Boston (Phil Kessel) followed.

They got Staal one year after recording one of the biggest victories in lottery — and franchise — history.

The NHL, coming off a 2004-05 season that had been wiped out by a lockout, used a weighted lottery to determine the order in which the league’s 30 teams would select during the opening round in 2005.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had a 3-in-48 chance — that’s 6.3 percent — of winning that lottery, tying Buffalo, Columbus and the New York Rangers for the most favorable odds.

However unlikely it seemed, the ping-pong balls bounced in their favor, and the Penguins ended up with the top choice, which they invested in Sidney Crosby.