The 2020 NHL Draft concluded Friday with very interesting story lines coming out of it. The rebuilding Ottawa Senators look to finish the rebuild with 2 pick in the Top 5. The near-historically bad Detroit Red Wings only got the 4th Pick in the draft. And the aging LA Kings got the 2nd pick. However, none of these are as big as the main story to come out of the Lottery. A Playoff Team will have the first pick of the 2020 NHL Draft. Yes, you read that right. One of the 16 eliminated Play-In round teams for the modified NHL playoffs will have a shot at the #1 Pick. So what happens from here?
Who’s eligible for the No.1 Pick?
As I said, 16 teams will have a chance to claim the first pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. From the east, the: Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. From the Western Conference, the: Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, and the Winnipeg Jets will all be able to have a chance at Pick #1.
How Will it Work?
The 16 teams are apart of the NHL’s modified playoff format due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These teams will be in a “play-in” series to determine who will make the official NHL Playoffs. So, the 8 teams eliminated in the Play-In round will all have a 12.5% chance in a 2nd Draft Lottery (Date TBD), to claim the 1st Overall Pick. Remember, in the original draft lottery, a play-in team only had a 2.5% chance at getting the No.1 Pick. And now a playoff caliber team will hold the 1st Pick.
Who will be the #1 Pick?
Unless something should go horribly wrong, or we are shocked by a very surprising pick, without a doubt the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft will be winger Alexis Lafreniere. Considered one of the best prospects in recent history, Alexis put up an incredible 112 points in the 2019-2020 QMJHL Season with 35 goals and 77 assists in only 59 GAMES. With these outstanding stats, he will be the #1 Pick, no question about it.
Should Teams Purposely Lose in the Play-In Round?
With a chance at possibly one of the NHL’s future best players, would it be worth it for a team to intentionally throw a series to have a chance to get Lafreniere? For teams who don’t have the best shot at winning a cup this season (Such as the Coyotes, Predators, or Panthers), I do not think it would be a terrible decision to lose the series on purpose with the chance at a generational talent as the prize, but realistically I don’t see a team trying this.
So how this will all play out will be very interesting. As we’ve seen in the past, dynasties could be made during the draft (As was the case with the Oilers of the 80’s), and especially with a #1 Overall Pick with one of the best prospects in recent history going to a playoff caliber team, we could certainly see the birth of one. For now though, only time will tell how this all goes, and we will have to wait and see who gets that 1st Pick… assuming the season is completed.