In an unprecedented time, something unprecedented happened tonight in the NHL. The NHL was forced to complete phase 2 of its entry draft, which included the New York Rangers.
That is because, against the odds, one of the eight losing teams from the play-in round won, leading us to a second and unprecedented phase in the draft lottery process. Despite the Ottawa Senators owning a 25% chance of landing the top pick, and the last-place Detroit Red Wings owning an 18.5% chance, “Placeholder team E” miraculously prevailed with just a 2% chance of winning the lottery. The Rangers became one of the eight “Placeholder team E’s” when they lost in the qualifying round to Carolina.
This is unprecedented because, for the first time in history, a team without one of the league’s worst seven records will nab the first overall pick at the draft. That means a playoff-caliber club, and possibly even a Stanley Cup contender has earned the right end to potentially add consensus No. 1 prospect and QMJHL sensation, Alexis Lafreniere, to its roster.
The Rangers and the other seven teams in phase 2, which included Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Minnesota, and Florida, had the same 12.5% selection of having their ping-pong ball selected
In all of the hoopla and pageantry, the NHL could muster for the picking of one ping-pong ball, the winner of that selection was the New York Rangers
This year, besides what has gone on in the world, is important because of the potential of the expected pick. Not only is Alexis Lafreniere good, most pundits believe he could be a game-changer in the NHL, similar to Sidney Crosby.
Mr. Lafreniere, meet Mr. Panarin, Mr. Zibanejad, and Mr. Kreider.
How did this crazy scenario happen?
When the season hit pause, every component of the NHL’s calendar, including the draft lottery, faced uncertainty. The lottery order is typically established based on the final standings after the 82-game season, but with the halted campaign, teams had played an unequal amount of games with just under one month remaining on the schedule.
As a solution, the seven clubs that did not qualify for the 24-team play-in round, along with the eight losing teams in the qualifying round, were entered into Phase 1 of the draft lottery using traditional lottery odds. The unknown teams were enlisted as “Placeholder teams A-through-H,” with of course “E” being selected and the eight qualifying round losers part of another lottery that just concluded.
If all goes according to plan, the draft is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9-10 and will be a virtual event.