McDavid Watch: I Ran An NHL Draft Lottery Simulator 1,967 Times


ICYMI, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been all kinds of horrible over the past several weeks. Like, losing-ten-games-in-a-row horrible. With that streak, the Leafs have dropped down the standings and are now pretty securely in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. 

Currently sitting in 25th in league standings with a 22-26-4 record, the Leafs would a 7.5% chance of winning the first overall pick if the NHL Draft lottery was held today, and a 7.5% chance of draft hockey’s best prospect since Sidney Crosby.

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Or Jack Eichel. Whatever.

To help me mentally prepare for McDavid’s arrival in Toronto, I started playing with Rob Zaenglein‘s 2015 NHL Draft Lottery Simulator, which you may also play with here.

If the advanced analytics community has taught me one thing, it’s that small sample sizes are pretty much the worst thing in the entire world. For that reason, I chose to run the simulation 1,967 times. That is a completely arbitrary number that has absolutely no meaning to any particular person or Toronto-based hockey organization. 

Math is fun!

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The Results (Based on Actual Science)

Like I said, the Leafs would hold a 7.5% chance of winning the draft lottery if it were held today. That’s why I was so shocked to see that, after 1,967 simulations, that Toronto was awarded the first overall pick 167 times. That’s an 8.5% winning ratio! For you numerically-challenged folks is one whole percent more than their expected chances. The Leafs might be good at losing hockey games, but they’re great at winning randomized lotteries!


The lottery actually worked out pretty much as expected, with the Buffalo Sabres winning the lottery most often (because they are very bad), followed by the Edmonton Oilers (also bad), Carolina Hurricanes (bad) and Arizona Coyotes (bad). 

The biggest loser here is the Columbus Blue Jackets, who would have an 8.5% chance of winning the lottery today. The Leafs actually won 8.5% of the simulations, while the Blue Jackets only won 8.1% of the simulations. What a bunch of idiots.

The most terrifying part of this exercise is that the Los Angeles Kings won the right to draft Connor McDavid 72 times. That’s a 3.7% winning rate. That’s just not fair. 

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Thank you for following along with my super scientific experiment. Let the tanking continue!

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