The team will be one of the eight that are eliminated from the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and will be determined by a second drawing to be held before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Each of the eliminated teams will have a 12.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick.
The Los Angeles Kings moved up to the No. 2 pick, and the Ottawa Senators will have the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
“We’re pretty excited,” Los Angeles president Luc Robitaille said. “It’s always good to move up or down, whatever you want to call it. It’s an exciting moment for the L.A. Kings and the franchise for sure.”
The Detroit Red Wings, who had the best odds to win the No. 1 pick, fell to No. 4.
“To be honest with you, not surprised,” Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman said. “We had an 18.5 percent chance of winning the first pick. So realistically, I’m prepared to be sitting here today not talking about the first pick. I’m not really surprised. The bottom eight, or the eight playoff teams, had a 24.5 percent chance combined of getting the pick. So the odds were better that the first pick went to the bottom eight than it did us.”
Video: Commissioner Bettman draws lottery for 2020 NHL Draft
The lottery included the seven teams that are not part of the 24-team NHL Return to Play Plan, plus the eight placeholder positions for the eliminated qualifiers. A separate drawing was held for each of the top three picks.
The winning placeholder, designated Team E, had a 2.5 percent chance to be assigned the No. 1 pick, the 12th-best odds among the 15 entries.
Each of the 16 teams that will play in the best-of-5 qualifier series has a chance to get the No. 1 pick: the Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.
The 2020 draft will be held after the playoffs, which do not have a start date. It was originally scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal but was postponed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
2020 NHL DRAFT ORDER
1. Placeholder team
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Ottawa Senators
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Buffalo Sabres
Picks 4-8 were determined based on inverse order of regular-season points percentage.
Picks No. 9-15 will be assigned to the other teams that lose the eight qualifier series, in inverse order of their points percentage.
Picks 16-31 will be determined by the results of the playoffs.
Ottawa had the second- and third-best odds to win the No. 1 pick (13.5 percent with its pick, 11.5 percent with a pick from the trade of defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks before the 2018-19 season).
“As far as picking No. 3 and No. 5, we feel it’s great for the Senators organization and the fans,” Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion said. “We’re going to draft two players we know are going to be impactful players for the Senators for years to come.”
The Kings entered the lottery with the fourth-best odds (9.5 percent to win the No. 1 pick).
“It gives us a real opportunity to get a player that is close to being ready to play in the NHL,” Robitaille said. “Any time you have that, you think as an organization you are going to get the second-best player available around the entire world, so you have a real good opportunity. I was telling (Kings general manager) Rob Blake the last time we got the No. 2 pick it was Drew Doughty (in 2008) and we ended up winning the Cup (in 2012 and 2014) with him, and the other one was Jimmy Carson (in 1986) and we traded Jimmy for Wayne Gretzky (in 1988). So, it hasn’t been bad for the L.A. Kings franchise, those two [No. 2] draft picks we have gotten in the past 20 or 30 years.”
Video: Luc Robitaille joins NHL Tonight
The top pick is likely to be forward Alexis Lafreniere, who was No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters.
“It’s the first part of the process,” Lafreniere said. “I’m still not drafted, have to wait a little bit. I’ll enjoy this time with family and friends and wait to see what happens, and I’m excited for this lottery.”
The 18-year-old won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the leading scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists), the Paul Dumont Trophy as QMJHL personality of the year, the Michel Briere Trophy as the most valuable player in the QMJHL, the Canadian Hockey League Top Draft Prospect of the Year Award and the CHL David Branch Player of the Year Award.
The left wing from Rimouski of the QMJHL is the second player in CHL history to win CHL Player of the Year in consecutive seasons, joining Rimouski center and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in 2004 and 2005. They are the only players to win the award twice.
“The fact he played three full seasons in the QMJHL is going to help him (to possibly transition to the NHL in 2020-21),” J-F Damphousse of NHL Central Scouting told the NHL Draft Class podcast. “He has the experience, he’s physically mature, and he’s going to have a pretty good frame (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) when the season starts next season. … I wouldn’t say the transition (to the NHL) will be easy, because any time you go from junior to pro, there’s an adjustment to make. But he’s a mature kid, has a strong work ethic, and I think he understands what it takes to get to the next level.”
Lafreniere was named most valuable player at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship after he scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in five games to help Canada win the tournament. He could be the third QMJHL player to be picked No. 1 since 2013, when the Colorado Avalanche selected Halifax center Nathan MacKinnon. The New Jersey Devils selected center Nico Hischier, also of Halifax, at No. 1 in 2017.
Players who could be drafted No. 2 include Quinton Byfield, a center for Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League; and Tim Stuetzle, a left wing for Mannheim of Deutsche Eishockey Liga, the top professional league in Germany.
Byfield scored 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 45 games. Stuetzle scored 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) with 132 shots on goal in 41 games.
“We know there are a lot of real good players in the draft,” Robitaille said. “So now there is even more work to do, but our guys have had a real good history in the past, so I trust that they will do the right thing.”