NHL Draft 2020: Projected Lottery Odds, Selection Order for 1st Round

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2020

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman takes the stage to start the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL has yet to make any formal determination about the 2019-20 season, which means significant questions hover around the already postponed 2020 draft.

The league officially put the season on hold March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly two weeks later, the scouting combine, postseason awards show and entry draft followed suit.

Assuming the worst-case scenario comes to pass and the remainder of the current campaign is wiped out, it would create a clear domino effect for the draft since everything is dependent on either the playoff field or the postseason results.

Perhaps the league would simply go in order of points from bottom to top and scrap the usual lottery structure. Tankathon is using a more traditional formula to lay out the order.

Here's a look at the first 31 picks and the odds for each lottery team to get the No. 1 overall selection or land in the top three.


Projected 2020 Draft Order: First Round

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  • 1. Detroit Red Wings (49.4 percent; 18.5 percent)
  • 2. Ottawa Senators (38.8 percent; 13.5 percent)
  • 3. Ottawa Senators, via Sharks (33.9 percent; 11.5 percent)
  • 4. Los Angeles Kings (28.8 percent; 9.5 percent)
  • 5. Anaheim Ducks (26.1 percent; 8.5 percent) 
  • 6. New Jersey Devils (23.3 percent; 7.5 percent)
  • 7. Buffalo Sabres (20.4 percent; 6.5 percent)
  • 8. Montreal Canadiens (19.0 percent; 6.0 percent)
  • 9. Chicago Blackhawks (16.0 percent; 5.0 percent)
  • 10. New Jersey Devils, via Coyotes (11.4 percent; 3.5 percent)
  • 11. Minnesota Wild (9.8 percent; 3.0 percent)
  • 12. Winnipeg Jets (8.2 percent; 2.5 percent)
  • 13. New York Rangers (6.6 percent; 2.0 percent)
  • 14. Florida Panthers (5.0 percent; 1.5 percent)
  • 15. Columbus Blue Jackets (3.3 percent; 1.0 percent) 
  • 16. Calgary Flames
  • 17. New Jersey Devils, via Canucks
  • 18. Nashville Predators
  • 19. Carolina Hurricanes, via Maple Leafs
  • 20. Edmonton Oilers
  • 21. Ottawa Senators, via Islanders
  • 22. Dallas Stars
  • 23. New York Rangers, via Hurricanes
  • 24. Minnesota Wild, via Penguins
  • 25. Philadelphia Flyers
  • 26. San Jose Sharks, via Lightning
  • 27. Colorado Avalanche
  • 28. Vegas Golden Knights
  • 29. Washington Capitals
  • 30. St. Louis Blues
  • 31. Anaheim Ducks, via Bruins


Should the pandemic slow enough to allow the NHL to return, too much time will likely have passed to realistically expect the completion of a full 82-game slate.

If the ultimate goal is to see a team lift the Stanley Cup, then staging a short training camp and heading straight into the postseason could make sense.

Were that to become a reality, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would like to see the field widened from the usual 16 teams.

"If you go directly into the playoffs, I think it has to be expanded from 16 teams," he said, per the Columbus Dispatch's Rob Oller. "Otherwise you have to cut it right off and where do you do that when teams have different schedules ... more home games? I'm not sure there's a fair way to cut to 16 teams right away."

While Kekalainen has a point, finding an equitable solution would almost be impossible when only one team (Detroit Red Wings) is mathematically eliminated from contention. Unless the NHL staged a 30-team playoff, somebody would end up feeling slighted.

And along with any expansion of the playoffs, would there have to be a corresponding change to the size of the draft lottery?

Strictly in terms of the draft, a full cancellation might be the easiest outcome to navigate.

According to The Hockey News' Ken Campbell, the NHL is at least considering a format similar to the 2005 draft, which followed the 2004-05 lockout.

All 30 teams were entered into the lottery, and their odds were determined by a combination of their postseason appearances over the previous three seasons and whether they had the No. 1 pick in any of the past four years.

The Red Wings and Ottawa Senators would be the biggest losers in that system since Campbell estimated their odds of getting the top selection would fall to around 6.3 percent.