NHL Draft 2020: Breaking Down Lottery Odds After Revised Playoff Format

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

Detroit Red Wings left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) celebrates his first-period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes with defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (52) in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Seven teams are focusing solely on the 2020 NHL draft.

The league's return-to-play format ended the seasons of the seven worst teams based on points percentage, which in turn set their odds for June 26's draft lottery.

The Detroit Red Wings carry the best odds from one position to land the top pick, while the Ottawa Senators have two opportunities to earn the No. 1 selection since they own the San Jose Sharks' first-round pick. The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres each have more than a 6 percent chance to win the lottery, which may be held in two phases.

The first draw will feature the seven eliminated teams and eight placeholder positions representing the teams knocked out during the qualifying round of the postseason. If one of the top three picks lands with one of the placeholder spots, a second lottery will be held after the qualifying round to determine which of those eight teams will earn that position.


NHL Draft Lottery Odds

Detroit Red Wings: 18.5%

Ottawa Senators: 13.5%

Ottawa Senators (via San Jose): 11.5%

Los Angeles Kings: 9.5%

Anaheim Ducks: 8.5%

New Jersey Devils: 7.5%

Buffalo Sabres: 6.5%

Team A: 6%

Team B: 5%

Team C: 3.5%

Team D: 3%

Team E: 2.5%

Team F: 2%

Team G: 1.5%

Team H: 1%^

Teams A-H will be the eight qualifying round losers.


Detroit's miserable 39-point regular season resulted in it earning the best individual odds to land the No. 1 pick, but it is far from a guarantee that will be the final result.

In the past four years, two teams with the worst regular-season point total won the lottery. But in 2019, Ottawa missed out on the top three picks.

Whichever team captures the No. 1 pick is expected to land consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

For Detroit, winning the lottery would hand it a centerpiece to a rebuild that is going to take a few years to get right. If Ottawa leapfrogs the Red Wings, it could bring in Lafreniere and another top prospect before dipping into the free-agent market.

The Senators will be a key figure in the lottery process because of their first-pick odds and the likelihood it lands at least one of the top three selections. Ottawa acquired San Jose's first-round pick as part of the Erik Karlsson trade in September 2018.

New Jersey has been the luckiest franchise in recent lotteries, earning the top selections in 2017 and 2019. In 2017, the Devils had the fifth-best odds to win the lottery, and in 2019 it had the third worst regular-season point total.

If the Devils move up in the lottery again, they would add another top prospect to a young core headlined by Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.

Once the lottery winner is drawn, the process will occur two more times to allot the second and third overall selections. If those positions are filled by a combination of the seven eliminated teams, pick Nos. 8-15 will be handed to the losers of the qualifying round.

The most confusing scenario features one or more of Teams A-H being drawn into the top three. If that occurs, a second draw will take place following the qualifying round to determine which of those franchises acquire those selections.

That means there is a scenario in play in which the Pittsburgh Penguins, the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, are eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens, the 12th seed, and win the second draw to land a top-three pick.

There is a small chance of that happening, of course, but it is possible because of the realigned playoff format.


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