Next week is an important week.
With the 2021-2022 NHL season now in the books, the Columbus Blue Jackets now await the results of the NHL's draft lottery, scheduled for Tuesday, May 10th.
The lottery is of particular interest to Columbus for a couple of reasons. While they can't win the number one pick in the lottery because of a recent rule change that does not allow a team to move up more than ten spots, the Blue Jackets do have a 5.7% chance of moving into the top three. Moving up ten spots would put them into the second overall position (3.2% chance), but moving up nine spots (2.7% chance) and selecting third overall is also a possibility.
The other interesting element to next week's lottery is what happens with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blue Jackets own Chicago's first-round pick, as long as it is outside of the top two. The Blackhawks finished with the sixth-worst record in the league, and will select from one of five spots: first, second, sixth, seventh, or eighth. They have a combined 15.5% chance (roughly one-in-six) of picking from the top or second spot. If they do, they keep the pick and Columbus will automatically get Chicago's first-rounder next summer — regardless of where it falls.
Because the lottery system is relatively balanced, the odds are that somewhere, a team is going to move up into the top three. As a result of that, the most likely pick for the Blackhawks isn't sixth but rather seventh. For Columbus, which is less likely to be jumped than teams towards the top, their place in the standings — 12th — has slightly over an 80% chance of happening. In other words, if the numbers fall as they are most likely to, the Blue Jackets will be picking 7th and 12th in July's draft.
The best case scenario, if you're of the mindset that Columbus should want this year's guaranteed top-eight pick from Chicago (as opposed to next year's that could be anywhere between 1 and 32), is that the Blue Jackets pick second overall (from moving up their maximum of ten spots) and sixth overall (Chicago's highest possible spot without winning the lottery).
If you're of the mindset that Chicago will be equally bad (or worse) next season — which is certainly a possibility — the hope is that Chicago ends up in the top two this year. If that does happen, vehemently rooting against the Blackhawks next season would become a required, yet easy, task.
What about a worst-case scenario? Those would be the 8th and 14th picks if you want Chicago's pick this year — or, if Chicago wins the lottery and Columbus gets a bad draw, it's also a possibility that Columbus gets just one, middle-of-the-round (14th) pick in the draft. The odds of that are low, but not impossible.
However you want it, may the plastic balls ever be in Columbus' favor.