DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings will not play another game this season after the NHL announced its return-to-play plan this week.
Commissioner Gary Bettman announced an end to the regular season, which was put on pause back in March due to the pandemic, and a 24-team expanded playoff format in which games could start as early as late July in two hub cities that the league will announce at a later date. Bettman said they still need time to make that decision, but they know what cities are available.
The move to call off the 189 regular-season games that were not played ends the season for Buffalo, New Jersey, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Ottawa and the Red Wings, who were sitting in last place when play stopped.
The 2019-20 season will go down as one of the worst in the Red Wings’ illustrious club history that dates back to 1926. The team’s 17 wins in 71 games played -- earning just 39 points -- is the franchise’s worst season record since 1985-86 when they mustered just 40 points in 80 games.
Based on winning percentage, this season’s 0.275 winning percentage is the third worst in franchise history behind 1985-86 (0.250) and 1976-77 (0.256).
The Red Wings managed to score 145 goals this season, a total more common in the 1940s when NHL teams played half the amount of games in a season. To better put this in perspective: In the lockout-shortened season of 1994-95, when teams played just 48 games, the Red Wings still scored 180 goals. Of course, that team went all the way to the Stanley Cup final.
Detroit and the six other teams that didn’t make the 24-team playoff qualifying tournament will now prepare for one of potentially two draft lotteries to determine the top 15 selections. The lottery will be held June 26, with another scheduled later depending on which of the remaining eight teams qualify for the official 16-team playoff.
How the 2020 NHL draft lottery will work
The league says the draft lottery will determine the first 15 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft based on 3-6 drawings over one or two phases. It will include the seven teams that did not qualify for the postseason, plus eight teams that lose in the Qualifying Round. That’s a point that has some Red Wings fans boiling over after their team’s basement finish:
Wings (and other lottery) fans are pissed because of the tacit benefit being given to every play-in team whilst legitimate lottery teams have to face the reality of a team as strong as Pittsburgh or Toronto winning a top 3 pick.— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) May 27, 2020
Also the prospect of no hockey until 2021. https://t.co/H5RD7clO1F
The First Phase of the draft lottery will be held June 26, prior to the Qualifying Round. It will consist of three drawings and include the seven teams that did not qualify for the postseason and eight placeholder positions.
The lottery odds for the seven non-qualifying teams were determined by their point percentage during the 2019-20 regular season, which was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus and was ended Tuesday with the Return to Play Plan announcement.
The eight potential losing teams from the Qualifying Round will be represented in the First Phase of the draft lottery as unassigned picks.
The first drawing of the First Phase will set the team selecting No. 1 in the draft, the second drawing will set the team selecting No. 2, and the third drawing will set the team selecting No. 3.
Here are the draft lottery odds:
- 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
- Qualifying Round Team A -- 6.0 percent
- Qualifying Round Team B -- 5.0 percent
- Qualifying Round Team C -- 3.5 percent
- Qualifying Round Team D -- 3.0 percent
- Qualifying Round Team E -- 2.5 percent
- Qualifying Round Team F -- 2.0 percent
- Qualifying Round Team G -- 1.5 percent
- Qualifying Round Team H -- 1.0 percent
The NHL explained New Jersey received better lottery odds than Buffalo because it had a worse regulation/overtime winning percentage (.348, compared to Buffalo’s .406).
“We’re trying to rebuild the team," Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said after the trade deadline in February. "We’re trying to add draft picks and prospects. We’ve got to decide -- everybody has a value. Some players have more value. Some players are more marketable than others. If we’re trying to rebuild, trying to add draft picks and prospects, we’ve got to go to the players who are most in demand.”
This year’s first prize in the NHL draft is expected to be 18-year-old forward Alexis Lafrenière. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound left winger just scored 112 points in 52 games played for Rimouski Océanic of the QMJHL.
Lafrenière is expected to have an impact right away with any team he ends up with. The Red Wings have as much need for him as any other team, clearly.