The Biggest Winner and Loser of the NHL Draft Lottery

The NHL has a unique tradition every year, in which they host a lottery to see what teams will receive the top picks in the NHL Entry Draft. The cause for a draft lottery was the result of numerous teams formulating conspiracies that elite teams would take a dive during the regular season in order to obtain a top prospect in the draft, with one of the most notable instances being the Pittsburgh Penguins and their “dive” to obtain the top pick in the 1984 draft to select NHL legend, Mario Lemieux. Generally, the lottery gives teams with the fewest wins the chance of earning the No. 1 overall selection, with the worst team in the regular season obviously having the greatest odds of obtaining this pick. In a year that has the deepest draft class in recent memory, the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft will be the difference between being a bubble team, and being a playoff contender.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The most intriguing result of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery is that the top pick of the NHL Draft has yet to be named, as the pick has been awarded to a team in the play-in round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. All eight of the 16 teams that will lose in the entry round-robin will have an equal chance of earning the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. With all of this being said, the biggest winner of the lottery is the projected No. 1 overall pick, LW Alexis Lafreniere. Alexis had a monstrous season with Rimouski Océanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In 52 games, he scored 35 goals and 77 assists totaling to 112 points wearing the “C” for Océanic. In the World Junior Championships U20 division, Lafreniere tallied 4 goals and 6 assists totaling 10 points in 5 games for the Canadian National Team. It’s safe to say he’s a stud. After the results of the lottery, there was nobody celebrating more than the 18-year old when he saw that a team playing in the qualifying round will be able to select him in the draft. Lafreniere has the potential to be playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, or even the Toronto Maple Leafs — all teams who have absolutely no business having the first overall pick — in his rookie year.

Sucks to Suck

There is no team that is more disgruntled with the results of the lottery draft than the Detroit Red Wings. In a historically terrible season, they achieved a record of 17-49-5, and a goal differential of -122, and they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in January… It was safe to say that Detroit had the greatest odds of achieving the top selection in the draft with an 18.5% chance. Even with those odds, they fell just outside of the top three with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. While mentioned before that this is an incredibly deep draft class, the talent dropoff is substantial from No. 1 to No. 4. Above them is the Ottawa Senators at No. 3, and the L.A. Kings at No. 2 overall, who made a jump from their projected fourth overall pick. There are several players that the Red Wings can draft who can end up being incredible players, but they’re nowhere near the equivalent to being Alexis Lafreniere. With a team that has so few stars on its roster, and being unable to select the top prospect in this draft class, Detroit is entering a world of pain as there seems to be no end in sight to their suffering.

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Lower Expectations

A direct result of top prospect Alexis Lafreniere going to a winning team is the relief of no longer having to be the focus of a rebuild. Players who are selected early in the draft wind up being buried on a losing team anywhere from two to seven years in the NHL before they achieve any significance in the league. A famous example of this is Arizona Coyotes superstar LW Taylor Hall. Originally drafted 1st overall in 2010 by the Edmonton Oilers, Hall was forced into the lineup as a 19-year old with expectations that he’ll carry the team out of the rubble of their once-great empire. Because of this, Hall’s performance and confidence were severely hindered as his lack of success drew criticism from analysts and fans who labeled him a bust. He would eventually be traded to the New Jersey Devils after the 2015-16 season after his inability to live up to the high expectations revolved around him. It was until the 2017-18 season where he showed the world how great of a player he was when he won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP as a 26-year old after carrying the Devils on his back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. At that point in time, everyone began to wonder where all of this talent was in Edmonton. This very scenario is one Alexis Lafreniere will never have to deal with, as there will not be ridiculous expectations for him to be Elijah Wood — “the guy”. He will have the opportunity to take a lesser role in the lineup, giving him time to properly develop all while having the potential to play with superstars like Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, Connor McDavid of the Oilers, or Auston Matthews of the Maple Leafs in his rookie year.