The Lockout And The Potential Forfeited Pick

With the current CBA set to expire on September 15th, both the NHL and the Players Association have been hard at work to flesh together a new CBA. Of course, if the CBA isn't re-negotiated by September 15th, Gary Bettman says there will be another lockout. Which means there's the potential for zero hockey games to be played in the 2012-2013 season.

And speaking of other terrible things caused by Gary Bettman, this brings us to the 1st round draft pick the Devils owe the NHL for the Kovalchuk contract. The Devils not forfeiting the pick this year means that they must either forfeit it this year, or the year after. Of course, if there's no hockey being played next season, there's no way the Devils can win the cup, make it to the finals or at least make it to the conference finals and acquire a late draft pick which can be forfeited easily. If the 2012-13 season gets cancelled because of a lockout, this means there will be another 30 team draft lottery. A look at what this could mean for the pick after the jump

The Lockout Lottery- An Explanation

For those who are unfamiliar with the 2005 draft, here's a refresher on how that lottery worked via CBC.ca

Each team begins with three balls in the lottery barrel. For every playoff appearance in the last three years or No. 1 overall pick over the last four years, a team loses one ball.

Essentially, it favours teams that have missed the playoffs alot in the last few years and haven't recieved multiple 1st overall picks. Edmonton, for instance will only have one ball despite being in the basement for the last three years. On the other hand, Calgary, who's been a bubble team for the last few years, will have just as good a shot of winning the lottery as basement dwellers like Toronto or Columbus. According to the criteria, the Devils will only have one ball because they have two playoff appearances in the last two years.

As for the Devils chances, this excellent fanpost by Van Ryn's Neurologist over at Pension Plan Puppets looks at the Leafs chances of winning the lottery, as well as the other 29 teams. For those wondering where the Devils are, they fall under the category of "one ball teams". These one ball teams have the best chance of landing a late 1st round pick (about a 6% chance for a one ball team to draft 30th overall). Of course, as VRN points out in his post, there isn't much of a difference in chances between the three ball teams and the one ball teams. Luckily, he made this chart that looks at the cumulative chances of each team.

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via cdn3.sbnation.com and pensionplanpuppets.com

VRN's description of the chart

I apologize that the colors didn't render that well. This plot nicely shows that while the Leafs wouldn't stand a great chance of drafting 1st overall relative to the other teams, they do stand a much better chance of drafting in the top 5-15. The line of blue dots crosses the 50% mark right about at the 9th overall pick. In other words, in about 50% of the simulations the Leafs would pick 9th or better. For teams with 2 balls, they stand more likely than not to draft at about 13th overall. For the teams with only 1 ball, that falls all the way to 19th overall.

So essentially, the Devils are more than likely to land a late 1st round pick in this format.

If there's a lockout, should they forfeit?

The problem with the lockout lottery is that every team has a chance to win the lottery. Maybe lady luck is on the Devils side again and they end up with a top 5 pick. That would complicate matters, as the Devils are guaranteed an elite forward prospect like Sean Monahan, Hunter Shinkaruk or even Nathan Mackinnon himself. Adding one of those three to the team`s prospect pool would be huge. It would probably be foolish to forfeit the pick simply because they`re getting value now rather than later.

A man can dream, but that`s probably not going to be the case. Considering their chances, they`ll probably end up with a late 1st round pick. Of course, a first round pick now is worth more than one later. Stefan Matteau is more valuable than the 2013 or 2014 first round picks because he will be able to contribute earlier than whoever the Devils would select in 2013 or 2014. The Devils pick in 2013 will be able to contribute to the team earlier than the 2014 pick. It would be nice to have someone contributing ASAP, but if the Devils do end up with a late 1st round pick, it might be better to get rid of it just so that the hypothetical sword of damocles won`t be hanging over the Devils head if they have another disaster, and they`ll have some sort of consolation prize if they aren`t able to make the playoffs.

Of course, this is all conjecture and "what if" scenarios. If the players, the owners and the league can agree on a new CBA, all this discussion would be somewhat meaningless, as the pick's future would be in the hands of the Devils. However, it's important to bring this up seeing as a lot of fans are preparing for the worst case scenario- a lockout.

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