NHL’s first draft lottery doesn’t set No. 1 pick

FILE PHOTO:  NHL: Stadium Series-Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche
FILE PHOTO: Feb 15, 2020; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; U.S. Air Force Academy Falcon Stadium is seen during a Stadium Series hockey game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings at. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

June 27, 2020

The NHL held the first phase of its 2020 draft lottery on Friday, and the No. 1 overall pick was awarded to … no one.

The lottery results wound up with the winning slot belonging to a team to be determined after the play-in round of the league’s expanded playoffs.

The eight teams that lose their opening best-of-five series will each have a 12.5 percent chance of landing the top overall selection. A second lottery to determine that choice will be held after the play-in round concludes.

The entry that emerged as the winner, unnamed “Team E,” had a 2.5 percent chance of receiving the No. 1 choice. The overall odds of a placeholder team grabbing the top spot were 24.5 percent.

The Los Angeles Kings, who had the fourth-highest odds of winning the lottery, jumped up to the No. 2 overall pick. The Ottawa Senators will pick third, using a draft choice acquired from the San Jose Sharks.

Rounding out the selections determined Friday are the Detroit Red Wings at No. 4, the Senators at No. 5, the Anaheim Ducks at No. 6, the New Jersey Devils at No. 7 and the Buffalo Sabres at No. 8. Those five places were assigned in inverse order of regular-season points percentage.

The Red Wings had the best chance of landing the top overall selection, 18.5 percent.

After the second phase of the lottery is held, the seven other play-in losers will receive draft picks No. 9 to No. 15, in inverse order of their regular-season points percentage.

The first-round draft choices from No. 16 to No. 31 will go to the remaining teams based on their playoff results.

The Kings were happy to jump up in the selection order.

“It gives us a real opportunity to get a player that is close to being ready to play in the NHL,” team president Luc Robitaille said, according to NHL.com. “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.”

Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said of his team’s result, according to NHL.com, “Realistically, (I was) 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.”

–Field Level Media

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