As the qualifying round of the 2020 NHL playoffs concludes, teams with a great deal of talent have emerged as contestants for the next stage of the draft lottery.
That’s the subject of this edition of the Detroit Red Wings mailbag. Reader Paul W. e-mailed to ask: When will we know who picks first, and how will it affect the Wings?
The NHL has scheduled Phase 2 of the lottery for 6 p.m. Monday; it’ll be held at the NHL Network’s studio and also be broadcast on NBCSN. A second lottery was necessitated when, on June 26, a placeholder for one of the eight teams that were included in the 2020 playoffs won the right to pick first overall.
Instead of limiting the lottery to the teams that were excluded from the playoffs because they had the seven worst records, the NHL included teams deemed worthy of competing for the Stanley Cup. The Wings — whose 17-49-5 record locked them into last place and who were the only team mathematically eliminated when the NHL paused the regular season March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic — were pushed back to fourth.
The Wings, who finished 61 points behind first-place Boston and 23 points behind 30th-place Ottawa, had 18.5% odds to pick first. The eight qualifying round losers will each have 12.5% odds.
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While one round has yet to be settled, teams vying for the right to draft consensus No. 1 pick Alexis Lafrenière include the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers. The others are the Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets. The eighth team will be the loser of the Toronto Maple Leafs-Columbus Blue Jackets series.
It would be best for the Wings if a Western Conference team wins, because then they’d only have to contend with Lafrenière twice a season. The Florida Panthers — and potentially the Maple Leafs — would be the worst, because they’re divisional rivals, meaning four or five meetings per season.
When COVID-19 truncated the 2019-20 season, the NHL altered the lottery, which normally features the teams that didn’t advance to the playoffs. Now the league has created a situation in which teams that already boast some of the best players in the NHL will get a shot at adding a first-overall pick. The Penguins, for example, boast Evgeni Malkin, who had 74 points in 55 games. Sidney Crosby dealt with injuries and produced 47 points in 41 games.
The Rangers boast Artemi Panarin, a Hart Trophy finalist whose 95 points (in 69 games) ranked fourth in the NHL. Their future includes the development of Kaapo Kakko, the second overall pick from 2019.
[ Red Wings have a long history with Hart Trophy, though it’s been a while ]
The Panthers are led by Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 78 points in 69 games, and Aleksander Barkov, the second overall pick in 2013. If the Blue Jackets advance, the Maple Leafs could add Lafrenière to a lineup that includes Auston Matthews, a generational player drafted first overall in 2016, Mitchell Marner, the fourth overall pick from 2015, and William Nylander, the eighth overall pick from 2014.
The Oilers boast the NHL’s leading goal scorer and a Hart Trophy finalist in Leon Draisaitl (110 points in 71 games), and Connor McDavid, arguably the best player in the game.
But again, at least the Wings only play the Oilers twice a year. If an Eastern Conference team is called Monday, it will be so much the worse for the Wings.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that made the Detroit Red Wings will be published in October by Triumph Books. To preorder, go to Amazon.