Since the NHL Draft Lottery system was invented in 1995, the Toronto Maple Leafs have only drafted inside the top-16 nine times.
By missing the playoffs more often than entering, you would think that the Toronto Maple Leafs would have had a ton of great draft picks, but they unfortunately have a few instances of trading their first round picks, even when the team was bad.
Prior to 1995, the Toronto Maple Leafs had drafted inside the top-five 10 times, but they never had the opportunity to move up or down from that selection.
If you were the worst team in the NHL, or had the draft pick of the worst team, you automatically were awarded the first overall pick: no questions asked.
In today’s world where tanking and rebuilding is so crucial to an organization’s success, the NHL eliminated this rule to make it fair for every terrible team to get a crack at the top pick, so less tanking would occur.
Obviously, the team with the worst record still has the best chance at winning the number-one overall selection, but it’s far from guaranteed.
Over the past decade, there have been a number of examples of teams moving up thanks to the NHL Draft Lottery.
Last year for example, the three teams that ended up selecting in the top-three of the NHL Entry Draft, had very bad odds to do so:
- 1st Overall: New Jersey Devils (3rd worst record in NHL)
- 2nd Overall: New York Rangers (6th worst record in NHL)
- 3rd Overall: Chicago Blackhawks (12th worst record in NHL)
The NHL Draft Lottery provides hope and entertainment for teams that miss the playoffs, and even though your team is the worst in the NHL, doesn’t exactly mean you’re going to draft the next Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid.
Speaking of which, the Toronto Maple Leafs have seen the advantages and disadvantages of the NHL Draft Lottery, but here are the top-five players the team has selected who were Lottery picks.