In a season like no other, the result of the NHL Draft Lottery feels just right.
The right to make the first pick in the 2020 NHL Draft was won by a placeholder team.
Yep, that’s correct. A team that loses in the Qualifying Round will get the opportunity to take top prospect Alexis Lafreniere with the first selection. That also means that there will be a Phase 2 of the draft lottery that will take place after the Qualifying Round is complete.
The eight losing Qualifying Round teams will each have a 12.5% chance to win the No. 1 overall pick.
Here’s how the lottery played out for the top eight spots:
1. Placeholder team
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose)
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Ottawa Senators
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Placeholder team
10. Placeholder team
11. Placeholder team
12. Placeholder team
13. Placeholder team
14. Placeholder team
15. Placeholder team
According to the NHL, the Placeholder team — “Team E” — that won the draft lottery had a 2.5% chance of being selected for the top pick.
The Red Wings had an 18.5% chance to win the top pick after finishing 30th overall during a regular season that was cut short. Ottawa had two chances to land the top pick, but will settle for No. 3, which is the pick acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade, and No. 5 overall.
“No comment,” was Senators GM Pierre Dorion‘s response when asked if he would package those two picks to try and move up to No. 1.
[Mock Draft: Projecting top picks for the 2020 NHL Draft]
Since a Qualifying Round team has a shot at No. 1, that means Taylor Hall and the Coyotes have a chance at the first pick. Arizona winning the top selection would add to the forward’s resume, as he reminded us last year when the Devils won the lottery.
They talk about Gretzky’s 92 goals or Sittler’s 10 pts in one game as records that may never be broken. But winning 5 draft lotteries in your first 9 years in the league? In 2 different draft lottery eras, no less. That is a record that will stand forever.
— Taylor Hall (@hallsy09) April 10, 2019
The seven teams that are not part of the NHL’s Return to Play plan were involved in the lottery, plus eight placeholder spots for eliminated teams from the Qualifying Round. There were three separate drawings to determine the top three spots.
As a reminder, here are the Qualifying Round matchups:
#5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens
#6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. #11 New York Rangers
#7 New York Islanders vs. #10 Florida Panthers
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets
#5 Edmonton Oilers vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks
#6 Nashville Predators vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes
#7 Vancouver Canucks vs. #10 Minnesota Wild
#8 Calgary Flames vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets
The rest of the 16 draft selections in the first round (No. 16-31) will be determined by how the Stanley Cup Playoffs play out.
Now the big question: What happens if the Return to Play cannot be played? Here’s Bob McKenzie:
This is only if there is no 19-20 return to play. The eight teams that would go into Phase 2 of the lottery, with equal 12.5% chance to win, would be: 8. MTL (.500), 9. CHI (.514), 10. ARI (.529), 11. MIN (.558), 12. WPG (.563), 13. NYR (.564), 14. FLA (.565), 15. CBJ (.579).
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 27, 2020
The 2020 NHL Draft was set to take place this weekend in Montreal, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There currently is no date set for when it will be held.
MORE: Lafreniere head of the 2020 prospect class
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.