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NHL Entry Draft 2020

BURKE: Chaos Reigns in Phase 1 of 2020 NHL Draft Lottery

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is going to… be determined at a later date. When that will happen, and for whom, we cannot say. We’re stuck in the worldwide waiting game that is this moment.

We wait for the NHL to determine it’s two hub cities. We wait for the results of the play-in round, assuming that the NHL can even get that far. And we’ll wait for some time after that, too, for the league to set a date for Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery.

Until then, Alexis Lafrenière’s career hangs in the balance; a consolation prize for one of the league’s play-in round participants.

The possibility always existed. This isn’t a mistake. Hockey Viz’s Micah Blake McCurdy set the odds of a placeholder team winning one of the top-three picks in tonight’s lottery at 63.2 percent. Probability isn’t destiny, but it sometimes lays the groundwork.

Whenever Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery commences, the eight teams that lost their play-in round series will enter a draw with identical odds, set at 12.5 percent across the board, for the first overall pick. Once the NHL has drawn it’s No. 1 pick, picks No. 9 through 16 will be set based on points percentage ranking from the losers of the play-in round, ordered by their respective conference. At least, this is my understanding of the lay of the land.

Are you still with me?

Looking at the rapid spread of COVID19 in nearly every corner of the hockey world, one might be curious as to what happens if the NHL can’t follow through on its return to play plan. Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman covered that in this tweet.

This tweet by The Athletic‘s Dom Luszcyszcyn offers an analytics-based look, using his model, to determine which teams have the best odds at that grand prize of first overall, based on their likelihood of winning or losing their play-in round and winning the lottery that follows. The Columbus Blue Jackets have the best odds by virtue of having the worst chance of advancing through their play-in round match with the Toronto Maple Leafs. What a league.

The next six picks went in this order: The Los Angeles Kings No. 2 overall, the Ottawa Senators No. 3 overall, the Detroit Red Wings No. 4 overall, Ottawa again at No. 5, the Anaheim Ducks at No. 6, the New Jersey Devils at No.7, and lastly, the Buffalo Sabres at No. 8.

Tonight’s Winners

The Los Angeles Kings

The Kings might have one of the league’s deepest prospect pools, and now they have the opportunity to put the icing on the cake with an elite, franchise player, too.

While everyone was losing their mind over first overall going to a placeholder team, the Kings brass were rubbing their palms at the prospect of adding Quinton Byfield to a stable of centre prospects that already includes Alex Turcotte, Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari, Akil Thomas, Tyler Madden, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, and Aidan Dudas.

It’s been maybe three years since the Kings, led by general manager Rob Blake, decided to start from scratch. They’ve done just about everything right since. This really does seem like one instance where luck is the residue of design.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, Montréal Canadiens, and Minnesota Wild

I can’t think of three teams better situated after tonight’s events than the Columbus Blue Jackets, Montréal Canadiens, and Minnesota Wild. I’d probably rate their fortune in that order, too.

None of these three teams has an especially promising road to the Stanley Cup Final, but they have the opportunity, and if that fails, another one to get a player that’s going to help them get back there in the not-so-distant future if everything breaks right.

Tonight’s Losers

The Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators and their fan base are no stranger to the concept of cruel fate and suffering. It’s an organizational mandate from ownership on down, all the way to their ticket vendors and even the fans.

Unless my math is mistaken — and let’s not rule that possibility out — the Senators entered tonight with about a 46 percent chance of securing one of either the first or second overall picks. They landed neither. Ottawa will instead draft third and fifth overall.

This is hardly the death knell of the Senators rebuild. Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has done a commendable job accumulating assets and draft picks. He’s Smaug sitting on a mountain of treasure, but he’ll never turn all those riches into anything actionable unless he gets that damn Arkenstone. And it’s so much more difficult to do that from third or fifth overall than it is first.

The Detroit Red Wings

It doesn’t get much worse than this for the Detroit Red Wings. They might be a lot more than a Lafrenière away from competing for the playoffs, but getting there was going to be a hell of a lot easier with him than without him.

We view the first tier of players marked by Lafrenière, Byfield, and Lucas Raymond, and the Wings fell out from that group entirely. Granted, Marco Rossi is one hell of a consolation prize, but this is a franchise that can’t settle for those.

The League

The No. 1 overall pick going to a Placeholder Team is an absolute travesty, one borne of the league’s desire to fix a problem that doesn’t exist — tanking. They deserve this outcome. Let teams tank and spare the public all this too clever by half non-sense.

You may also be interested in: Plus BURKE: NHL Front Office Execs & Scouts Weigh in on EliteProspects 2020 NHL Draft Ranking 4.0 This article is about:
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