The NHL had to come up with a brand new playoff format after COVID19 prematurely ended the regular season. With the new playoff format came a new lottery format. The seven teams not included in the play-in round. Plus the eight losing teams would all be entered into lotteries for the top three picks. If you would like a more in-depth article check out this piece from NHL.com. The draft lottery would be broken into two phases. Phase 1 of the NHL Draft Lottery would include the bottom seven teams and eight placeholder teams. The placeholders represented the team's who would lose in the play-in round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery would only happen if a placeholder team won any of the lotteries. Each of the eight teams would have an equal 12.5% chance of winning that pick. However, I don't think anyone knew the chaos that would follow.
NHL Draft Lottery Phase 1
Let's flashback to June 26th the day of the Phase 1 lottery. The lottery could announce anywhere from the top seven to the top 10 picks. Luckily it only started at pick eight meaning one of the top three picks would go to a placeholder team. First pick eight went to the Buffalo Sabres they only moved down one spot so not a big loss. Then pick seven went to the New Jersey Devils another high pick after a disappointing season. Pick six went to the Anaheim Ducks a rebuilding team in need of a young talent infusion. Pick five went to the Ottawa Senators their own pick which was originally second so a drop of three spots. Finally, pick four and the biggest losers of the night the Detroit Red Wings. Dropping from the best odds of the top pick to fourth after finishing in last place.
Now we come to the top three picks one of which would go to team TBD. The winner of the third pick lottery is the Ottawa Senators or in this case the San Jose Sharks who sent their pick to the Sens in the Erik Karlsson trade. That means a play-in team and the LA Kings are now in the running for the top pick. The collective hockey world held their breath as the winner of the top pick was about to be revealed. As the card is turned over it's announced the winner of the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft is a team to be named later. The LA Kings moved up two spots to the second pick but more importantly, a team that loses in the play-in will have the top pick in the draft.
NHL Draft Lottery Phase 2
That brings us to the present day with the Phase 2 lottery happening tonight. The teams now determined to have a chance at the top pick are as follows. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, and the New York Rangers. The hockey world now waits to see if the top pick in this year's draft will join Crosby, McDavid, or Mathews. Of course, there are five other teams in the lottery but they were actually out of the playoffs at the pause so they should have had a chance at the pick in a normal year.
In fact, the placeholder team that won had the 12th place odds of winning the top pick or 2.5%. That slot in a normal season would have belonged to the Winnipeg Jets. Perhaps the hockey gods will dispense some justice on a franchise that has had just a nightmare of a season. After just a terrible offseason where they lost half of their defense, they get a shot in this crazy playoff format. Then in game one of their series, they lose two of their best forwards and their season was done as quickly as it was reborn. All eight of the previously mentioned teams have a 12.5% chance now at the top pick in the draft so let the chaos begin NHL fans.
While many have claimed these teams shouldn't have a shot at the top pick I say too bad. If only the seven excluded teams were in the lottery we probably don't have the playoffs. The eight teams from seed 12 to seed 9 probably vote against the return to play. Then add another handful of teams who were in a tough series voting against it. Now, what were two teams voting against the return to play just became fourteen. If it's that many teams maybe they convince another couple and the playoffs don't even happen. How many chances do teams get to win? Especially in a year like this where anything can happen.
Now as for who I want to win the NHL Draft Lottery Phase 2 it's pretty easy to choose. Teams like the Jets, Wild, Predators, and even the Rangers I wouldn't mind. But in the Division with the Leafs and the Panthers no thank you. We have enough generational talents in the Atlantic already. As for the Penguins and Oiler just no. Both teams were five seeds well established in their playoff positions. They have enough talent already adding the top overall pick is just silly. But if they win I can accept it knowing it helped make these playoffs possible. If you missed the first lottery here is a video of the pick reveals. Good luck to all the teams we will almost all be watching. As always stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!
Featured image courtesy of NHl.com