Any Similarities To Mc79hockey Are Purely Coincidental

Right now, as you all know, the Oilers are in a dog race for last place. With another pesky two-game winning streaks under their belt, the Oilers find themselves starting the week only 4 points back of Toronto. So, you might be asking yourself: Is the eponymous 'Fall for Hall' in jeopardy?

The choice between Hall/Seguin is looking more and more like a crapshoot all the time, so the goal here for the Oilers, I think, is to draft first or second overall. At this point, there are two things in our way: The Leafs and the lottery. What, then, are the odds of the Oilers missing out on a top-two draft pick? Let's take a look at the numbers to see if we can't find out. Be forewarned: it might get a little math-y after the break.

Part 1: The Race To The Bottom

By this time of year, Sports Club Stats is usually one of my daily internet stops. If you've never been to the site, what they do is calculate the odds of your team finishing in the playoffs by simulating the rest of the season 25 million times. For example, today's simulations have the Oilers going 17-0 and finishing 10th in the West 15 times out of 25 million (that's a 0.00006% chance!). The site isn't really set up to help you calculate the odds of finishing last in the league, but for my devoted Slow Fresh Oil readers, I took the numbers and played around with them a bit to see what I could find.

At this point, with 12 more points than us, I think it's safe to say that the Islanders are a non-factor, so for simplicity's sake, I'm not even going to consider them here. 30th overall is basically a two horse race. The Oilers are going to finish the season with somewhere between 48 and 82 points. Based on Sports Club Stats' numbers, here are the odds of us finishing with each of those point totals, and then the same numbers for the Leafs:

Looking at the above chart, you can see that the Oilers are most likely to finish the season with 62 points, and the Leafs are most likely to finish the season with 68. Building on those numbers, we can figure out what the odds are of the Oilers finishing behind the Leafs this season.

Basically, when the dust settles, based on the Sports Club Stats numbers, the Oilers are expected to finish last in the league 84 percent of the time. I like those odds, but I've never been one to count on the Leafs succeeding at anything, so let's keep going.

Part 2: The Lottery

For the uninitiated, the draft lottery works like this: each of the 14 teams that miss the playoffs have a chance of winning the lottery and moving up in the draft. The last place team has the highest chance of winning (25%), and the 17th place team has the lowest (0.5%). Each team can only move up 4 spots if they win, so teams 26 - 30 are all in the running for first overall pick.

If the Oilers finish last in the league, they are guaranteed to draft in the top two. In that case, there would be a 25 percent chance that they win the lottery and stay first overall, a 23.2 percent chance that a team outside the bottom five wins, which would also mean we draft first, and a 51.8 percent chance we drop to second overall. Basically a coin toss between first and second.

If the Leafs manage to do what they do best and we end up 29th in the league, our chance of drafting in the top two drops from 100 percent down to 60.8 percent. So in that case, 4 times out of 10 the Oilers would be drafting Cam "Safety School" Fowler with the 3rd overall pick.

Part 3: The Conclusion

Put those numbers all together and you end up with something like this:

So, as of right now, the Oilers have a 94 percent chance of succeeding with their tank job. And frankly, Cam Fowler's not a bad consolation prize for the other 6 percent. I think it is safe to say there's no need to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside. Not yet, at least.


  1. Good stuff. I feel better already.

  2. Yeah, and things look even better now that we're 6 whole points back.

  3. Took me a while but I think I've got it. So eyeballing it to March 12, the Oil's chances are around 96%. If the game on the 13th is lost by the Oil then the odds would jump to about 99% (guesstimating) and we can all breathe easier.

  4. Tonight's game is definitely a big one. I don't even think I can watch, because I'm worried cheering for the Leafs might make me physically ill.