NHL Draft Lottery: Everything you need to know about the Second Phase

Elliotte Friedman explains what could happen to the first overall pick in the 2020 draft if the NHL is unable to return to play this season.

In true 2020 fashion, the NHL’s draft lottery came and went with its fair share of drama, ending in about as shocking a twist as one could expect.

“The No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft belongs to… a team yet to be determined, coming from the qualifying round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”

So, with the fate of expected No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere still hanging in the balance, where do we go from here? To the Second Phase of the draft lottery, which will determine which losing play-in squad will slot into that No. 1 spot.

Here’s all you need to know about how and when that will go down, and who exactly has a shot at Lafreniere:

When will the Second Phase take place?

When the league announced its updated draft lottery protocols, thrown into tumult by the COVID-19 pandemic, they said a Second Phase would occur only if a placeholder team won a top-three selection. That’s obviously occurred, and in the most dramatic way possible, meaning another lottery will take place to see who winds up with that No. 1 pick.

Per the NHL’s initial release, the Second Phase of the lottery will take place “between the end of the qualifiers and the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs,” but no exact date has been set.

Which teams could still win the No. 1 pick, and what are their odds?

The teams that will be included in the Second Phase draw will be those who lose their qualifying series upon the league’s return to play — meaning one of these teams will earn the No. 1 pick:

In the West:
• Edmonton Oilers
• Calgary Flames
• Winnipeg Jets
• Vancouver Canucks
• Chicago Blackhawks
• Minnesota Wild
• Nashville Predators
• Arizona Coyotes

In the East:
• Toronto Maple Leafs
• Montreal Canadiens
• Pittsburgh Penguins
• Columbus Blue Jackets
• New York Islanders
• Florida Panthers
• Carolina Hurricanes
• New York Rangers

Half of these teams will advance to the first round the playoffs, while the other half, the losing clubs, will enter the Second Phase. Each team in the Second Phase will have a 12.5 per cent chance of winning the first-overall selection.

What happens if those qualifying series aren’t able to be played?

There is still a chance, of course, that the NHL will not be permitted to return to play, given the progression of the pandemic. That would mean the league wouldn’t be able to determine who enters the Second Phase simply by way of those series results.

In that case, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on In Conversation, “the remaining eight lowest teams by points percentage will have a draw. They will all have an equal one-in-eight shot at the No. 1-overall pick.”

That would mean Columbus, Florida, the New York Rangers, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Arizona, Chicago and Montreal would be in the running for the No. 1 pick, should the league be unable to return to play.

Who was closest to getting the No. 1 pick before it fell to a placeholder team?

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the Ottawa Senators seemed most likely to get the No. 1 pick after three of the four lottery balls had been selected:

The Senators headed into the draft with a chance to win big given the number of picks they had to work with.

While they didn’t earn the No. 1 pick, they walk away with Nos. 3 and 5, meaning they’ll be able to draft at least one of what appears to be the top three names in this class: Alexis Lafreniere, Tim Stutzle and Quinton Byfield.

Who’s the best regular-season team that could technically win the No. 1 pick?

The Penguins enter the qualifying round with the highest points percentage of the group at .623, followed by the Hurricanes (.596), the Islanders (.588), the Oilers (.585) and the Maple Leafs (.579).

Pittsburgh last selected first overall in 2005, when they drafted Sidney Crosby. The Hurricanes have never selected No. 1. The Islanders’ last No. 1 selection was John Tavares (in 2009), who now suits up with Toronto’s last No. 1 pick, Auston Matthews (2016).

Edmonton, of course, selected Connor McDavid first overall in 2015, their fourth No. 1 pick in five years.

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