What are the odds the Pittsburgh Penguins could again win the top overall pick in the NHL draft and select a youngers from Rimouski Oceanic? After the ping pong balls bounced that way in the NHL Draft Lottery on Friday night, the Penguins may have a 12.5% chance, but the Penguins would have to fail first.
The Penguins could obtain the first overall pick by losing to the Montreal Canadiens. Here’s how: With the 24-team NHL return, the Qualifying Round does not count as the NHL playoffs. So, teams that lose the Qualifying Round will be eligible for the second phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.
Since the Team A ball was selected for the first overall pick, all teams which lose the Qualifier will go into Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery to be Team A. The second lottery will occur after the Qualifying Round, but before Round One.
So, if the Montreal Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Penguins will enter the second lottery. The Penguins traded their first-round pick to the Minnesota Wild in the Jason Zucker deal, but the selection was lottery protected and the Penguins could defer giving the first-round pick until 2021.
Alexis Lafreniere from Rimouski is the consensus top overall pick. Lafreniere scored 112 points (35g, 77a) in just 52 games this season. The NHL has not yet scheduled the 2020 Draft, but will likely occur in October.
The Los Angeles Kings, who had only a 9.5% chance at the top overall pick, won the second overall pick. The Ottawa Senators, who were the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, will pick third. The Detroit Red Wings, who were on pace to be historically inept and had an 18.5% chance at the top pick, became the big losers on Friday night.
Detroit slipped to the fourth overall pick.
“…I’m not really surprised. The bottom eight, or the eight playoff teams, had a 24.5 percent chance combined of getting the pick,” Detroit GM Steve Yzerman said. “So the odds were better that the first pick went to the bottom eight than it did us.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman began the lottery broadcast by holding a newspaper to prove the data as the lottery took place without teams and general managers present.
Editor’s note: The original story incorrectly noted the Ottawa Senators finished last in the Eastern Conference.