NHL Draft Lottery requires Phase 2 as 'team placeholder' secures No. 1 selection

·2 min read
BOISBRIAND, QC - NOVEMBER 23:  Alexis Lafreniere #11 of the Rimouski Oceanic looks on during the warm-up against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada prior to the QMJHL game at Centre d'Excellence Sports Rousseau on November 23, 2018 in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada.  The Rimouski Oceanic defeated the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 3-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Alexis Lafreniere must wait. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Say hello to TEAM PLACEHOLDER, Alexis Lafreniere.

Instead of one of the seven teams eliminated from contention in a season paused by a pandemic, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft will belong to one of the 16 teams that will compete for the final eight spots in the Stanley Cup bracket.

There will be a second lottery (or Phase 2) to determine which team wins the right to the No. 1 overall selection — and in all likelihood Lafreniere — once the play-in round is completed as part of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. The eight losing teams from the opening round of the playoffs will each have a 12.5 percent chance of winning the top selection as a built-in and tasty consolation prize.

Here’s the complete lottery results, which saw the team with the highest individual odds to win the No. 1 selection, the Detroit Red Wings, fall out of the top three:

1) Placeholder team
2) Los Angeles Kings
3) Ottawa Senators (via SJ)
4) Detroit Red Wings
5) Ottawa Senators
6) Anaheim Ducks
7) New Jersey Devils
8) Buffalo Sabres

In addition to the mystery squad, the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators (by way of the San Jose Sharks) each had their lottery balls selected as well. The Kings moved up two spots to the No. 2 overall selection, while the Senators held firm at No. 3 via the draft selection acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade.

Dynamic German forward Tim Stutzle, along with Canadians Quinton Byfield and Jamie Drysdale, will be considered for top three selections.

There will be plenty of discussions and mock drafts produced over the next few weeks, but for now the focus will remain on this truly incredible and unprecedented result at the lottery. It’s one that will have Lafreniere pondering his future for several more months, while also leaving teams with questions about the possibilities that remain.

Just like the postseason format, some teams will feel fortunate while others, like the Winnipeg Jets, might be thinking that they would have preferred to accept the rights to Lafreniere from the No. 13 slot in the standings, which just so happened to produce the right combination at the lottery.

Either way, the NHL will trudge forward, and if the league can resume its season, eight teams with one opportunity will have another to fall back on, each owning an equal chance at one of the most exciting prospects we’ve seen since Connor McDavid.

Lafreniere is the second two-time CHL player of the year award winner in history, joining Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. He scored 35 goals and collected 112 points this season for the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and led Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship.

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