Every team in league has chance in lottery

TORONTO -- The New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh
and Columbus Blue Jackets have the best chance of drafting
Sidney Crosby first overall in the 2005 NHL draft.

Each of those teams will have the maximum three balls in the
lottery barrel while the other 26 teams will have either two or one

The lottery is expected to be held next week at an NHL board of
governors meeting to ratify the tentative collective bargaining
agreement reached Wednesday between the NHL and the players'

A prominent player agent told ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek that the draft lottery will be held July 21, with the entry draft being held July 30 in Ottawa.

Each team will have a chance at drafting first overall -- a
departure from recent years when only the bottom five teams in the
league from the regular season were involved in the lottery for the
No. 1 pick.

This time around, teams' chances are weighted according to the
following formula:

  • Each team starts with three balls and loses one for each
    playoff appearance in the last three years but only to a maximum of
    two, assuring each team will have at least one ball.

  • The teams which had the first overall pick in each of the last
    four drafts also lose a ball. Florida loses two for having the
    first pick twice -- in 2002 and 2003 -- even though the Panthers
    traded the first pick in both cases, and Washington (2004) and
    Atlanta (2001) lose one each.

That puts a total of 48 balls in the barrel with New York,
Buffalo, Columbus and Pittsburgh each having a 6.25 percent chance
of landing the first pick. Anaheim, Atlanta, Calgary, Carolina,
Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville and Phoenix
each have two balls and a 4.17 percent chance. The remaining 16
teams have one ball each and a 2.08 percent chance.

Clubs will draft from 1 to 30 in the order the balls are picked.
The first-round order will be reversed for the second round and
flip on an alternating basis through the nine rounds.