Friday, June 26 was originally intended to be the opening night of the NHL Entry Draft. However, the ongoing pandemic has changed things so instead, the league held its draft lottery on Friday night and given the circumstances, it was a rather unique one. While 15 teams were involved, eight of them aren’t yet known and were simply classified as Qualifier Team A, Team B, etc. This is because those slots are reserved for the eight teams that lose in the play-in round which is presently slated to take place in early August.
While it may seem premature to do the lottery now when more than half the specific teams aren’t known, it at least gave the seven teams that aren’t returning this season some clarity on where they will be selecting.
Before getting to the results and the subsequent fallout from them, here is a quick overview of what the odds were for the top pick heading into the event:
Detroit Red Wings – 18.5%
Ottawa Senators – 13.5%
Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks) – 11.5%
Los Angeles Kings – 9.5%
Anaheim Ducks – 8.5%
New Jersey Devils – 7.5%
Buffalo Sabres – 6.5%
Qualifier Team A – 6.0%
Qualifier Team B – 5.0%
Qualifier Team C – 3.5%
Qualifier Team D – 3.0%
Qualifier Team E – 2.5%
Qualifier Team F – 2.0%
Qualifier Team G – 1.5%
Qualifier Team H – 1.0%
Separate drawings were done for the second and third selection as well with the odds changing based on who won the preceding selection. The results were as follows:
2) Los Angeles
3) Ottawa (via San Jose)
7) New Jersey
It’s certainly a tough result for the Red Wings as they drop three slots while Ottawa was unable to select him with their top (combined) odds. Their bad fortune was good news for the Kings and a team-to-be-named later though and with a qualifier team getting one of the picks, there will be a second draft lottery held at a later date. Each team that loses in the play-in round will have an identical 12.5% odds at the first pick with selections 9-15 being slotted by lowest point percentage during the regular season. If the play-in round doesn’t occur, the remaining bottom eight teams will have the 12.5% odds in the second lottery, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (Twitter link).
While the league didn’t announce which placeholder team ’won’ the pick, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports (via Twitter) that it was Qualifier Team E.
The grand prize in this lottery is a chance to select Rimouski (QMJHL) winger Alexis Lafreniere, the CHL’s top player in each of the last two seasons. He has been dominant at the major junior level, compiling 114 goals and 183 assists in just 173 games, one of which came as a 15-year-old underager. He’s expected to be ready to make the jump to the NHL right away and be an impact player in a hurry. We’ll be waiting a while yet to find out who gets him though.
Others expected to contend for early spots are Sudbury (OHL) center Quinton Byfield and Mannheim (DEL) forward Tim Stutzle, while Erie (OHL) defenseman Jamie Drysdale and St. Petersburg (VHL) goalie Yaroslav Askarov are believed to be the top players available at their respective positions.