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NHL announces changes to annual draft lottery

Liam McHugh, Keith Jones and Mike Babcock break down the new NHL Power Rankings, featuring a red-hot Vegas team that could be looking to make a splash around the trade deadline.

The NHL draft lottery will undergo several changes beginning this year following approval from the Board of Governors and the NHLPA.

Here are the details of the new format, and know that No. 1 will be implemented this off-season. Nos. 2 and 3 will begin with the 2022 NHL draft lottery.

(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.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

“There are some clubs who recently think it’s important that the teams that are struggling the most get the most help,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this month. “There are other teams, a number, that think there is nothing wrong with the present system at all. I don’t believe there is tanking in the game. I think our players and our organizations, our coaches are too professional. But there is always speculation as to what’s really going on.

“Our competitive balance is so extraordinary that some clubs feel that the difference between a team that misses the playoffs and a team that really misses the playoffs really isn’t all that great. In order to try to reconcile those competing views we thought maybe a little bit of a tweak. The system wasn’t necessarily crying out for major change.”

It was also reported this month that the 2021 NHL Draft will not be moved and will take place July 23-24.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.