NHL to introduce Wildcard Lottery system to decide playoff spots

In an effort to generate some additional buzz ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the National Hockey League has decided to introduce to make a last-second change to the wildcard format, opting for a lottery format to decide the last two spots in each conference.

Under the format that was in use prior to today, the top three teams in each division would make the playoffs, along with the two best remaining teams in the conference. This, in theory, led to teams that were caught in tough divisions to make the playoffs to have their efforts rewarded.

Now, that’s a great idea for the sake of the sport integrity, but it’s not an overly exciting one. It’s also not a lucrative one, with all of the Canadian teams being eliminated at the moment. As such, the league has opted for a lottery with a similar structure to the draft lottery, where everybody has a weighted chance at making the playoffs.

Seed Percent Current (East) Current (West)
7th 25% NY Islanders Nashville
8th 25% Philadelphia Detroit
9th 15% Carolina Minnesota
10th 12% New Jersey Colorado
11th 8% Ottawa Arizona
12th 6% Montreal Calgary
13th 4% Buffalo Winnipeg
14th 3% Columbus Vancouver
15th 2% Toronto Edmonton

Due to the fact that the Eastern Conference has two more teams than the West, the league has politely requested that the Red Wings count themselves as a Western team for the sake of the lottery. Like the classy organization that they are, the Wings were happy to oblige, as they’d be a Natural Wildcard team in the West and thus increase their underrated odds. 

With the team not playing overly great of late and a much better history of success in the west, having this April lottery seems like the best ticket to keeping the playoff streak alive. Of course, that’s until the lottery balls start acting like fools and land on Edmonton and Toronto.