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Phase one of 2020 NHL draft lottery ends in surprise

By Paul Patane, SportsEngine, 06/29/20, 4:15PM MDT

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Hub exclusive: The first phase of the league's draft lottery was last Friday but it remains unclear which team will get the No. 1 overall pick.


Photo courtesy of the NHL

With the National Hockey League set to resume its 2019-20 season with a modified version of the Stanley Cup Playoffs sometime next month, the league has begun its annual draft process.

The first phase of the 2020 NHL draft lottery was held last Friday, and the night ended with a cliffhanger: It still remains to be determined which team gets the No. 1 overall pick. 

Who gets picks two through eight was determined, but the winner of this year’s draft lottery will be a team that’s made the qualifying round of the playoffs, which means the top pick can’t be awarded until after league play resumes.

According to the NHL website, each of the teams that will be eliminated from the qualifying round of the playoffs have a 12.5% chance of winning the top pick. The second phase of the draft lottery will be held just before the playoffs return to their normal format, with eight teams from each conference competing in a quarterfinal round, followed by the semifinal round, conference finals and the eventual Stanley Cup Final.

Play was halted in mid-March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gary Bettman, the league’s commissioner, announced the NHL's Return to Play plan on May 26, dividing the return to hockey in different phases on dates to be determined. Phase 3 is scheduled to begin July 10, which is when teams that made the playoffs begin an abridged training camp before games can be played again. Phase 4, the resumption of play, will begin on a date to be determined.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will be held in two hub cities — one for each conference. The announcement of which cities will serve as hubs is expected as early as this week.

The 2020 NHL Draft order thus far is:

1) Placeholder team (to be determined)

2) Los Angeles Kings

3) Ottawa Senators (from the San Jose Sharks)

4) Detroit Red Wings

5) Ottawa Senators

6) Anaheim Ducks

7) New Jersey Devils

8) Buffalo Sabres

Picks 16 through 31 will go to teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after the play-in qualifying round. Given the Colorado Avalanche finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference in the abridged regular season, the Avs avoid having to compete in the play-in round and won’t have their pick determined until the 16 through 31 grouping is set.

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