The first overall pick will go to a playoff team, causing uproar, and exposing some major flaws with the lottery system.
With the draft lottery behind us, and the playoffs ahead of us, there is one thing that is pretty clear. The NHL is royally messing this whole situation up.
Since the season was cut short because of COVID-19, the NHL decided to change up the playoff format. Instead of the normal 16 teams, this season will see 24 teams make the playoffs, and only seven teams miss out. The reason for this was the NHL's theory that terrible teams could just suddenly catch fire, and make the playoffs. Teams like Montreal could make up ten points in ten games just to get to the eighth seed. Interesting.
Any sports fan could tell you that is just way too many teams for the playoffs. What were the top teams even playing for all season long if practically every team makes the postseason?
Of the twelve teams making the playoffs in each conference, four have a first round bye, and the other eight will play in what has been dubbed the "qualifying round". Those will be five game series', and the winners will play against the top four teams in the next round. During the qualifying round though, the top four teams will play a round robbin against each other.
Those teams' regular season records will be completely wiped for that round robbin, which makes absolutely no sense. You're telling me that Boston, who had 100 points in the regular season, and Philadelphia, who had 89 points should be at the same level? That is absurd. The NHL should have followed the NBA's lead, and made those games worth the same amount as any other regular season game.
Anyway, on to the draft. Because only seven teams are not going to the playoffs, the NHL did not have enough teams for their draft lottery. Therefore they added one spot that could be given to any team that loses in the qualifying round, meaning that there were eight available spots in the lottery. Below are the odds that each team got the first overall pick. As you can see, team A through H are the teams that will be eliminated in the qualifying round.
2020 NHL Draft lottery odds
1. Detroit Red Wings 18.5%
2. Ottawa Senators 13.5%
3. Ottawa Senators (via SJS) 11.5%
4. Los Angeles Kings 9.5%
5. Anaheim Ducks 8.5%
6. New Jersey Devils 7.5%
7. Buffalo Sabres 6.5%
8. Team A 6.0%
9. Team B 5.0%
10. Team C 3.5%
11. Team D 3.0%
12. Team E 2.5%
13. Team F 2.0%
14. Team G 1.5%
15. Team H 1.0%
Now, this process really was ridiculous. Add up the percentages of all the playoff teams in the lottery, and it is 24.5%. That is very high. So truly, the best odds (next to Ottawa's 25% chance) were that one of the playoff teams got the first overall pick. I mean, how does the NHL not see that? Well, their wish came true, the team that won the NHL draft lottery was...Team E.
So what does that mean, who is team E? Team E would have been the Winnipeg Jets, but because of the playoff format, it actually isn't even a team yet. You see, each of the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round will have an equal 12.5% (or one in eight) chance of getting that pick.
Yes, you heard that right: The first overall pick could go to a team like Pittsburgh, Toronto, Edmonton, you name it. Below you can see the draft order:
2020 NHL DRAFT ORDER
1. Placeholder team
2. Los Angeles Kings ⬆️2️
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks) ➡️⬅️
4. Detroit Red Wings ⬇️3
5. Ottawa Senators ⬇️3
6. Anaheim Ducks ⬇️1
7. New Jersey Devils ⬇️1
8. Buffalo Sabres ⬇️1
Something that is kind of funny is that every team but Los Angeles and the undecided team moved down from their odds. Detroit and Ottawa fans fave the most right to be upset, but right now, literally no one but Kings fans are happy.
What I really don't understand is why not just do the lottery with the seven teams that didn't make the qualifying round? Why are you rewarding the medium to bad teams with a berth into the postseason, and also a shot in the lottery?
What this also brings up is the question of if teams will purposefully lose in the playoffs to get a shot at the first pick. With a team like Montreal, they have a far better chance at getting that first pick, and with it a possible generational player like Alexis Lafreniere, then ever even getting close to winning a Stanley Cup this season. Honestly, it would make perfect sense for them to throw the series, and I guarantee you their fans wouldn't complain for a minute.
And, I know I am going to face criticism for this, but doesn't it seem a bit icky that Montreal is the last team into the playoffs, and now could get the first overall pick, which just happens to be a transcendent French-Canadien player. The NHL by no means had to put 24 teams into the postseason, but how could they not get Montreal in there when they could make so much more money with them in? And now, wouldn't it be perfect if for the NHL if Montreal got Lafreniere. Just saying...
In terms of the draft prospects alone, this is considered to be a very strong class. Lafrenière is an elite talent, and Stützle and Byfield, while seen as very even with each other are both very solid options at two and three. It is also a very Canadian class, and will most likely see the most Germans ever taken in the first round. Elitehockeyprospects.com ranks the top ten prospects for the draft as such:
🇨🇦 Alexis Lafrenière (LW)
🇩🇪 Tim Stützle (C/LW)
🇨🇦 Quinton Byfield (C)
🇨🇦 Cole Perfetti (C)
🇺🇸 Jake Sanderson (D)
🇨🇦 Jack Quinn (RW)
🇨🇦 Seth Jarvis (RW)
🇸🇪 Lucas Raymond (RW/LW)
🇦🇹 Marco Rossi (C)
🇸🇪 Alexander Holtz (RW)
With that, as always, please feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below!