The NHL made a mockery of the draft lottery this year, rewarding a team that was deemed good enough to partake in the 2020 playoffs.
The New York Rangers, who finished with 79 points, won the right to make the first selection, which is expected to be left wing Alexis Lafrenière. The draft is scheduled to take place Oct. 9-10.
The phase two drawing featured the eight losers of the qualifying round, a mix that also included the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets. A second lottery was needed after the June 26 phase resulted in a placeholder winning the first pick.
The lottery was altered after the 2019-20 season was cut short, by about three weeks, because of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, the Wings were the only team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. When they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes on March 10, it ensured the Wings, who were 17-49-5, would finish in 31st place.
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They entered the lottery with 18.5% odds to get the first pick, but were pushed back to fourth. The Wings, whose 39 points were 24 fewer than 30th place Ottawa, have been pushed back every year they’ve been in the lottery: From seventh to ninth in 2017, from fifth to sixth in 2018, and from fourth to sixth in 2019. Add in the three spots from this year and that’s eight spots total from 2017-20.
The Rangers, who had 79 points, will add Lafrenière to a team that boasts 2020 Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin and 2019 second-overall pick Kaapo Kakko.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. 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.