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NHL draft robbery: Lowly Red Wings pushed even lower to 4th overall pick

Top pick goes to team playing in the playoff qualifying round

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2019 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Red Wings 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2019 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Red Wings 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) (2019 Getty Images)

In a shocking twist Friday night, the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft was awarded to a team that is still competing for the Stanley Cup.

And for the Detroit Red Wings, who finished last in the NHL this season, that meant they were shoved down to 4th overall.

I mean, yeah, it hurts. It stings. It was an historically bad season for Detroit, why not lose the draft lottery, too?

Here’s what happened

The Red Wings entered the lottery with an 18.5 percent chance at getting that top pick. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators actually had the better odds with two picks in the top three spots that combined for a 25 percent chance at grabbing the 1st overall draft pick. Ottawa finished 23 points ahead of the last-place Red Wings in the regular season, and they also had the remaining top three pick from the Erik Karlsson trade with the San Jose Sharks.

The top draft pick surely would either got to the lowly Red Wings or a desperate Senators organization.

But the unthinkable happened.

At the turn of the first lottery card, the Buffalo Sabres were knocked out of their 7th spot in the lottery odds and down to the 8th spot. That meant a team in the bottom eight spots of the 15-spot draft lottery pool won a spot in the top three. That team is one of the 16 teams competing in the NHL’s qualifying round -- eight teams move on to face the top eight other teams in the league in the actual playoffs. The other eight teams that lose in the qualifying round -- a one-game elimination round -- would have been placed in the draft order in inverse order of their points percentage. However, now that one of them was selected for the first pick, all eight teams that lose in the qualifying round will have a 12.5-percent chance of winning the top pick.

Got it? Of course not -- no one really does. It’s wacky, and we knew that going into this, but what happened here is kind of unthinkable. It’s the worst case scenario for the Red Wings, the Senators and the other five teams not in the qualifying round of this hectic season interrupted by a pandemic.

Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman will now have a real decision to make at 4th overall.

Yzerman, by the way, was drafted 4th overall in 1983 -- here’s who went before him: 1. Brian Lawton; 2. Sylvain Turgeon; 3. Pat LaFontaine.

Here’s a recap of how the lottery drawing went:

  • The Buffalo Sabres moved down to the No. 8 spot, making it clear there would be a team from the qualifying round picking in a top three spot. Not a fun start for the seven teams that showed up (virtually) to participate in this draft.
  • The New Jersey Devils got the 7th spot.
  • The Anaheim Ducks will select at 6th overall.
  • One of the Ottawa Senators’ picks dropped to 5th overall.
  • The Red Wings were knocked down to the No. 4 pick.
  • Ottawa then got the 3rd pick with their second drawing. Some saving grace there, at least.
  • The Los Angeles King won the 2nd pick -- Luc Robitaille was happy, but he’s always happy anyway.
  • And, finally, that meant a team in the qualifying round of the 2020 playoffs won the No. 1 pick. Yikes.

Now what?

The NHL’s rules for the draft state that if a team not in the bottom seven wins any of the first three drawings, a Second Phase will be conducted among the eight teams eliminated in the qualifiers. That would take place between the end of the qualifiers and the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Now we have to wait for the qualifying round to be played -- possibly as early as late July -- then we will learn who has the 1st overall pick in the draft.

The draft itself does not have a confirmed date. It will be held after the playoffs, at least.

Here’s another look at those odds heading into the lottery:

  • Detroit Red Wings (.275) -- 18.5 percent chance for No. 1 pick
  • Ottawa Senators (.437) -- 13.5 percent
  • Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks, .450) -- 11.5 percent
  • Los Angeles Kings (.457) -- 9.5 percent
  • Anaheim Ducks (.472) -- 8.5 percent
  • New Jersey Devils (.493) -- 7.5 percent
  • Buffalo Sabres (.493) -- 6.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team A -- 6.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team B -- 5.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team C -- 3.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team D -- 3.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team E -- 2.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team F -- 2.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team G -- 1.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team H -- 1.0 percent

And now here’s the actual draft order -- remember, now that one of the qualifying round teams was selected for the first pick, all eight teams that lose in the qualifying round will have a 12.5-percent chance of winning the top pick.

  1. Qualifying round loser
  2. Los Angeles Kings
  3. Ottawa Senators
  4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. Ottawa Senators
  6. Anaheim Ducks
  7. New Jersey Devils
  8. Buffalo Sabres
  9. Qualifying round loser
  10. Qualifying round loser
  11. Qualifying round loser
  12. Qualifying round loser
  13. Qualifying round loser
  14. Qualifying round loser
  15. Qualifying round loser

Good luck to you, Qualifying round loser (Montreal Canadiens, probably). All eight teams that lose in the qualifying round will have a 12.5-percent chance of winning the top pick. So there’s that. That’s what we call pouring salt in the wound, adding insult to injury, etc.

Top prospects

Winger Alexis Lafreniere, out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), is expected to go first overall. Here’s his EliteProspects page.

Forward Tim Stützle, out of Germany, also is expected to be selected in the top three. The Red Wings selected D Moritz Seider out of Germany at 6th overall last year. Stützle and Seider are friends. Perhaps he’ll fall to 4th overall.

Here’s who Red Wings selected in 2019 NHL Draft

Last year, the Red Wings selected 11 players in the 2019 NHL Draft, starting with a German defenseman in the 1st round. It was the second straight year that they picked 6th overall.

The Red Wings entered the 2019 draft lottery with the fourth-best chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick since they had the fourth-worst record in the NHL this season. They slid back, dropping two spots to No. 6 as Chicago (No. 12) and the New York Rangers (No. 6) moved up into the top-3.

Here’s each 2019 Red Wings pick:

  • Round 1 -- 6th overall -- D Moritz Seider 🇩🇪 (view EP page)
  • Round 2 -- 35th overall -- D Antti Tuomisto 🇫🇮 (view EP page)
  • Round 2 -- 54th overall -- LW Robert Mastrosimone 🇺🇸 (view EP page)
  • Round 2 -- 60th overall -- D Albert Johansson 🇸🇪 (view EP page)
  • Round 3 -- 66th overall -- RW Albin Grewe 🇸🇪 (view EP page)
  • Round 4 -- 97th overall -- C Ethan Phillips 🇨🇦 (view EP page)
  • Round 5 -- 128th overall -- D Cooper Moore 🇺🇸 (view EP page)
  • Round 6 -- 159th overall -- RW Elmer Soderblom 🇸🇪 (view EP page)
  • Round 6 -- 177th overall -- D Gustav Berglund 🇸🇪 (view EP page)
  • Round 7 -- 190th overall -- LW Kirill Tyutyayev 🇷🇺 (view EP page)
  • Round 7 -- 191st overall -- G Carter Gylander 🇨🇦 (view EP page)

That’s five defensemen drafted by Detroit -- one in the first round, two in the second round, one in the 5th and another in the 6th.

Read back: Here’s who the Red Wings picked in the 2018 NHL Draft


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