The NHL's draft lottery takes place tonight, where the 14 non-playoff teams have a chance at moving up in the draft. As it stands now, the 14 teams are ranked inverse of their regular season standings. The draft lottery winner, regardless of which of the 14 teams it is, moves up four spots. The thing is, the lower you finished in the standings, the better chance you have of winning the lottery.
It's a ping-pong ball system, with the worst team in the league having more ping pong balls than the 14th worst team. At present, the team with the worst record in the NHL- the Edmonton Oilers- have the best chance at winning the lottery at 25%, which means they have a quarter of the balls in the machine.
The Jackets currently sit as the fourth worst team, giving them a 10.7% chance of winning. If a team below Columbus wins the lottery- that is, Edmonton, Toronto (which is Boston's pick) or Florida, Columbus will pick fourth. Columbus will pick fifth if one of the following teams wins the lottery- Islanders, Lightning, Hurricanes or Thrashers. Those four teams are all within four places of Columbus' position. If Columbus wins the lottery, they will pick first overall.
This is an important draft for Columbus. As I've said before, this team is close to the playoffs. They hit a bit of a bump in the road this year, but if they can add a top-level talent at the draft, it may be the piece that makes them a consistent contender for the foreseeable future.
Here's hoping for some lottery luck tonight, at least it will be something to salvage an otherwise disappointing season.