NHL Draft lottery: The actual draw explained

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With the Rangers in the draft lottery for the second consecutive year, it may be helpful to explain how the actual draw works. Every year, we hear fans complain about it being rigged, but the NHL has developed a process which is fair and tamper-proof. But how does it work?

Commissioner Bettman is in a room with representatives of each team, plus journalists and two representatives of Ernest & Young who will manually verify the combination with the chart they have in front of them. The look-up chart is available to everyone in the room, including the team’s representatives. The people in the room are not allowed any contact with the outside world until the results of the draw are announced on television in the next room.


The lottery machine is filled with 14 balls numbered 1-14. Each lottery draws four balls which creates a unique four-number combination, regardless of sequence. This results in 1001 possible combinations, with the combination 11-12-13-14 being designated as a redraw. In addition, if a team’s combination appears a second time, there is an automatic redraw. The remaining 1000 combinations are divided among the teams at random, and based on their percentage. The New York Rangers will have 75 possible combinations assigned to them out of 1000.

Robert Ziade/Forever Blueshirts

The person controlling the machine does not face the machine as he presses the button to draw the numbers, which are drawn in ten second intervals. Each ball is shown to the representatives of Ernst & Young who then individually verify the combination before the balls are redistributed for the next draw. Once the three draws are completed, the winners are announced during the live broadcast on NBC. The video of the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery draw is available on YouTube for anyone who is interested in seeing the process in action.

The fate of the Rangers in the 2019 NHL Draft will be announced tonight at 8 pm on NBCSN.

34 thoughts on “NHL Draft lottery: The actual draw explained

  • April 9, 2019 at 7:28 am

    After watching the Magicians Exposed videos on Netflix and the results of any of the wins by Democrats in decades anything involving a machine and deception goes hand in hand. Do we know if any of the balls have been treated? In this day of age, I don’t trust anyone.

    • April 9, 2019 at 9:23 am

      Rumor has it the card holding the Knicks card was frozen. Well until Buzzfeed tried freezing the same type of envelope. Couldn’t be replicated. Not saying Buzzfeed is or isn’t a verifiable source but does anybody believe a frozen paper envelope? I mean I would believe the Moon Landing was faked before a frozen envelope. Does anybody believe the league’s other GM’s, an entire league and an auditing company would all impeach their reputation for a rigged sports draft?

      Fans and league reps wanted to get away from teams filling out rosters with players that would guarantee a loss and better their draft slots. They came up with this formula and now fans are calling rigged….. ENOUGH already. Take the tin foil off your windows and stop using it to make hats….. ALIENS or Government Operatives aren’t wasting their time trying to scan your brain waves.

      • April 9, 2019 at 9:30 am

        Bill I’m not sure why this was placed in response to your post. I didn’t hit reply to yours, this was meant to be a stand alone comment.

        • April 9, 2019 at 11:32 am

          No Problem MIke. But MIke, the moon landing was a fake. Have you ever thought why no one, no nation, has attempted a second landing? If they did, they wouldn’t find any debris from the first landing. Wow. Has Fake News been sold to us that long ago? I bet it has been feed to us much much longer.

          • April 9, 2019 at 1:54 pm

            Second landing? It would been a 7th landing since America has sent 12 astronauts to the Moon on 6 separate missions.

            Why no other country hasn’t sent anyone to moon…… uhm COST. How many billions of dollars have been spent to send 12 men to the moon. 14 US Astronauts have died in training and space missions as well.

            Only so many golf balls, jumps and rocks to be brought back before it becomes ho hum.

          • April 9, 2019 at 2:09 pm

            Sorry Mike about Moon landings. I haven’t paid attention. I did however, just hear what I stated and I believed them. Silly me. Please forgive.

          • April 9, 2019 at 4:45 pm

            Hahaha….. no worries I can’t wait to see what next week brings. It’s a loooooooooong way to the draft and free agency.

      • April 10, 2019 at 8:39 am

        Well they lied about the no outside contact because viasats feed leaked the top 3 results 30 minutes beforehand

  • April 9, 2019 at 7:45 am

    All you did was prove this system is rigged. nothing more.

    • April 9, 2019 at 8:05 am

      How is it rigged?

      • April 9, 2019 at 8:33 am

        by making it 1000 times more complicated than necessary. Nothing that you explained above is completely necessary. this over the top complication of numerical combinations is hogwash. It’s smoke and mirrors. Which easily allows for tampering. You should have stopped at behind closed doors…

        • April 9, 2019 at 9:17 am

          If the draft is rigged why are super stars not going to big market teams? Does the NHL really want their best player in Conor MacDavid in Edmonton when half the country can’t watch his games because of the start times?

          No matter what system they implement there is always a group of people that will scream RIGGED!

          Being an overly complicated numerical combination makes this rigged?

          • April 9, 2019 at 11:35 am

            Hockey is a Canadian sport right? That should be the answer to your posting. 26-years without winning a Cup. That’s a stain on their nation. But if you look at the prospective teams, they are all American. They tell us this is a good draft, but is it?

  • April 9, 2019 at 8:13 am

    And the NYR pick #2

    • April 9, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Joe I wish I had your optimism but hey stranger things have happened. Luckily it’s not 2004 with the Rangers being 1 of 4 teams with the best odds of the #1 pick…… only to see them fall to 16.

      • April 10, 2019 at 1:42 am

        Mike, if you roll the dice enough… sooner or later you’ll be a winner.

        My only displeasure in this, is that the Devils took #1

  • April 9, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Ernst and Young, not Ernest.

    • April 9, 2019 at 10:39 am


  • April 9, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Steve I will be honest here, I know I will get this overwhelming feeling of why can’t the Rangers get lucky once with this ping pong ball made for tv scenario… I will feel like a kid on Christmas morning just waking up….. But at around 8:19 pm I will see the Hockey God’s sense of humor when the Rangers crest will be selected and placed next to the 9th draft slot…….

    This is what being a Ranger fan looks like.

  • April 9, 2019 at 10:50 am

    Mike you and I are dead on with this. The Rangers are just not a lucky team period. All you have to do is look at their history and it proves it. Rattell breaking his ankle, Ulf Nelson braking his when he caught it in a rut on the horrible ice we had because of the circus. It doesn’t matter what this team gets very few breaks and it’s been that way for the 58 years I’m following them.

    • April 9, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      Who the fuck are Rattel & Nelson??

      • April 9, 2019 at 7:14 pm

        The GAG line was a famous ice hockey line for the New York Rangers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It consisted of Jean Ratelle at center, Rod Gilbert on right wing and Vic Hadfield (also the Rangers team captain) on the left side. Ulf Gösta “Lill-Pröjsarn” Nilsson is a former professional ice hockey player who played in the World Hockey Association for the Winnipeg Jets and in the National Hockey League for the New York Rangers. NYfan. I guess you are too young.

  • April 9, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    The NHL draft lottery isn’t rigged?? Next your going to try and tell me the earth isn’t flat.. unbelievable…

  • April 9, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    It’s actually not a difficult way to determine picks. Simple probability combinatorics, 14 choose 4 = 1001. Take out one of the possibilities and you have 1000 results. Nice rounded number.

  • April 9, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    because they need the money. its not hard, it’s simple

  • April 9, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    I’m with Joey G.! Rangers are going to be blessed with #2. That probably means Kakko. They would NEVER have the balls to choose Kakko, even if they had #1, and that’s who I would WANT, but again I would NEVER have the cojones to go outside the consensus.

  • April 9, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    @Johnny red depends on what you consider lucky. Hank in the 7th round? A McD rip-off? Is it “luck” or is it stupidity to trade nearly every 1st and 2nd rounder for a decade? I say stupidity, but NOW they’re going in the right direction. Even if it means sucking it up for a couple of years!
    Oh yeah, you forgot to mention Cherepanov. That hurt big time.

  • April 10, 2019 at 8:36 am

    This entire article is a farce considering the top 3 were leaked over 30 minutes before the drawing…

  • April 11, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Not rigged? 6 of the ten years it’s been Edmonton or New Jersey winning the top pick. And last time I checked, NY, Chi Town and New Jersey are all big markets.Chicago jumping to 3rd is the biggest joke of them all. They have 3 cups in the last decade and just had a down year only missing the playoffs by 6 points. Them even getting a top ten pick is a joke.

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