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NHL Draft Lottery history: The Flyers made history with the biggest jump ever

Five, six, eight, twelve.

2008 NHL Draft Drawing Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images for the NHL

We said all along that the Philadelphia Flyers had near-impossible odds to win the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, and ultimately they did not win the first overall pick. But they obviously were the big winners in the event, jumping 11 spots from 13th overall to 2nd overall. There was just 2.4 percent chance of that happening.

It wasn’t just the biggest jump this year, though. It was the biggest jump all-time in the NHL Draft Lottery, dating back to the first drawing in 1995.

That’s partially due to the rules. From 1995 to 2012, the lottery allowed any team to move up as many, but no more than, four spots. Beginning in 2015, the NHL allowed any team in the lottery to win the first overall pick, and starting in 2016 — in part to avoid the tanking that many teams blatantly performed during the Connor McDavid sweepstakes the year prior — the lottery was expanded to include the top three picks.

There’s a fresh drawing for each of the three picks, with the odds changing based on each. The Flyers had a 2.4 percent chance in the second-place drawing that they won, while they had a 2.2 percent chance in the first-place drawing and a 2.7 percent chance at third. More drawings means a more of a chance for a big jump like we saw from the Philadelphia-assigned ping pong balls this year.

NHL Draft Lottery History

Year Winner Effect Change Player taken by winner No. 1 overall pick
Year Winner Effect Change Player taken by winner No. 1 overall pick
1995 Los Angeles Moved from 7th to 3rd up 4 Aki Berg Bryan Berard
1996 Ottawa Kept 1st pick none Chris Phillips Chris Phillips
1997 Boston Kept 1st pick none Joe Thornton Joe Thornton
1998 San Jose (traded to TB) Moved from 3rd to 1st up 2 Vincent Lecavalier Vincent Lecavalier
1999 Chicago (traded to NYR) Moved from 8th to 4th up 4 Pavel Brendl Patrik Stefan
2000 NY Islanders Moved from 5th to 1st up 4 Rick DiPietro Rick DiPietro
2001 Atlanta Moved from 3rd to 1st up 2 Ilya Kovalchuk Ilya Kovalchuk
2002 Florida (traded to CBJ) Moved from 3rd to 1st up 2 Rick Nash Rick Nash
2003 Florida (traded to PIT) Moved from 4th to 1st up 3 Marc-Andre Fleury Marc-Andre Fleury
2004 Washington Moved from 3rd to 1st up 2 Alex Ovechkin Alex Ovechkin
2005 Pittsburgh not applicable, lockout who cares Sidney Crosby Sidney Crosby
2006 St. Louis Kept 1st pick none Erik Johnson Erik Johnson
2007 Chicago RIGGED up 4 Patrick Kane Patrick Kane
2008 Tampa Bay Kept 1st pick none Steven Stamkos Steven Stamkos
2009 NY Islanders Kept 1st pick none John Tavares John Tavares
2010 Edmonton Kept 1st pick none Taylor Hall Taylor Hall
2011 New Jersey Moved from 8th to 4th up 4 Adam Larsson Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2012 Edmonton Moved from 2nd to 1st up 1 Nail Yakupov Nail Yakupov
2013 Colorado Moved from 2nd to 1st up 1 Nathan MacKinnon Nathan MacKinnon
2014 Florida Moved from 2nd to 1st up 1 Aaron Ekblad Aaron Ekblad
2015 Edmonton Moved from 3rd to 1st up 2 Connor McDavid Connor McDavid
2016 Toronto Kept 1st pick none Auston Matthews Auston Matthews
2016 Winnipeg Moved from 6th to 2nd up 4 Patrik Laine
2016 Columbus Moved from 4th to 3rd up 1 Pierre-Luc DuBois
2017 New Jersey Moved from 5th to 1st up 4
2017 Philadelphia Moved from 13th to 2nd up 11
2017 Dallas Moved from 8th to 3rd up 5
via the NHL

Three drawings were made on Saturday night at the studios of Rogers’ Sportsnet in Toronto -- one for each of the top three picks, in order. Here’s how the NHL explains the method, which was overseen by the accounting firm Ernst & Young:

For each of the three drawings, 14 balls, numbered 1 to 14, were placed in a lottery machine. The machine randomly selected four balls. The resulting four-number series (without regard to selection order) was matched against a chart that shows all possible combinations and the clubs to which each was assigned. The chart showed that the Devils had been assigned the numbers (1-5-6-12) that were expelled in the first drawing, followed by the Flyers (5-6-8-12) in the second drawing and the Stars (2-6-8-13) in the third drawing.

It took 10 years, but we’ll now officially consider the ping pong balls absolved following their betrayal of the Flyers in the 2007 NHL Draft Lottery.