Placeholder Team Wins Number 1 Pick in the 2020 NHL Draft


In a stunning turn of events on Friday, June 26, the NHL will not know who will pick first in the 2020 NHL Draft until a later date. After the league conducted its Draft Lottery, it has been confirmed that a placeholder team from the 2020 play-in round will have a shot of winning the prize of Alexis Lafrenière.

The lottery that was modified because of COVID-19 was held with the seven teams that were eliminated from the 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs, along with eight placeholders that represent the eliminated teams from the opening round.

The result was a shock to many hockey fans as some expected a named team to win the number one pick. The Detroit Red Wings, who had the league’s worst record and an 18.5% chance of winning the lottery, lost all three drawings to win a top-three pick. Also, the Ottawa Senators who had two shots of taking the number one pick, one with their own pick and one with the San Jose Sharks’ pick, came up empty on number one, although they did win a top-three spot.

The results of the lottery are shown below:

  1. Placeholder (TBD)
  2. Los Angeles Kings
  3. Ottawa Senators (Via San Jose Sharks)
  4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. Ottawa Senators
  6. Anaheim Ducks
  7. New Jersey Devils
  8. Buffalo Sabres

The news now means that one of the eight teams that lose the Qualifying Round will be given a shot at the number one pick. This will be determined following the opening round of the NHL’s Return to Play plan at a time to be determined.

This could also be a big development for how certain teams and fanbases will look at the league’s upcoming return. Even if a team gets eliminated in the qualifiers, the losers will still get a 1/8 chance of winning the number one pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.


However, things become even more complicated after the round is over with conditional picks. The New York Islanders, who traded their first-round pick for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, still have a shot at it as the pick is top-three protected. If they lose, the pick would go to Ottawa based on points percentage.

The ripple effect continues between the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. If Toronto loses and gets the #11 pick or higher, the selection goes to the Hurricanes, but they would lose their 2021 first round pick if they win the lottery this year.

The Rangers would get the lower of Carolina and Toronto’s picks due to the Brady Skjei deal in this scenario. If the Leafs go #1, Carolina’s 2020 first goes to the Blueshirts.

Also, if Pittsburgh loses to Montreal, the Penguins would have an option to send the Minnesota Wild their first either this year or in 2021. As a result, teams are quite literally fighting for the chance of not only the Stanley Cup, but a possible number one pick as well.

With such a surprising twist on the future of the NHL and the draft, things will become a lot more interesting heading into the return of hockey this summer.

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