June 27, 2020

VICKERS: Chaos rules the 2020 NHL Draft

This probably won’t be the most popular of takes, but I’m a fan of Team Chaos.

And the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery certainly delivered.

Which, I guess, would make me a fan of Placeholder Team E.

It was that spot, with a 2.5 percent chance to win the whole thing, that nabbed the No. 1 pick in the Draft Lottery on Friday, and likely the consensus No. 1 in Rimouski Oceanic standout Alexis Lafreniere, prompting the Second Phase to come into play.

It tumbled the Detroit Red Wings — who had the single best chance at 18.5 percent of nabbing the pick following a 17-win, 39-point, .275-winning percentage struggle of a season – as far as they could’ve possibly fallen to the No. 4 pick.

It relegated the Ottawa Senators, who entered the NHL Draft Lottery with the second (13.5%) and third best shots (11.5%) individually and collectively had a 25.0 percent chance of the No. 1 between their own pick and the one acquired via the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson swap, to picks No. 3 and 5.

It boosted the Los Angeles Kings into the No. 2 spot, perhaps the most interesting in the first round. Los Angeles originally started with the fourth-best odds at the lottery at 9.5 percent.

It also extended the drama for at least another month – until we can get to that Second Phase.

Sixteen more teams are still invested, with eight receiving an equal shot at Lafreniere.

Lafreniere’s destination, presumably, will be one of the eight teams that are eliminated from the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and will be determined by a second drawing to be held before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Each of the eliminated teams will have a 12.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick.

That means the Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets are still in play.

Eight teams will play in.

Eight teams will lose. One of those teams will end up with Lafreniere.

Imagine if it’s the Edmonton Oilers, who have selected with the No. 1 pick four times (Taylor Hall, 2010; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nail Yakupov, 2012; Connor McDavid, 2015) in the past decade, win that right again.

Or, imagine if it’s Hall’s Arizona Coyotes who nab that No.1 pick. Hall, obviously, is linked to the Oilers winning in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, as well as the New Jersey Devils in in 2017, with Nico Hischier, and 2019, with Jack Hughes.

The Montreal Canadiens could add an instant star in Lafreniere with a lottery victory; his hometown of Saint-Eustache is a half hour drive away. His QMJHL club, the Rimouski Oceanic, are a little further out at five hours.

Or, imagine if it’s the Canadiens who upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in their play-in series. Imagine the scenario should Lafreniere join another former No. 1 in Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh. Lafreniere is the first player since Crosby to win back-to-back Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year honors. Crosby, with the Oceanic, did so in 2004 and 2005.


Welcome to the 2020 NHL Draft.

Date, again, to be determined.

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