NHL unveils complicated new 2020 draft lottery format and odds

May 26 2020, 5:13 pm

The NHL has announced the details of how the 2019-20 season will resume, including how this year’s playoffs and draft lottery will work.

Once the league is allowed by health authorities and governments to resume, a 24-team playoff will commence. The top 12 teams in each conference will be selected based on their points percentage as of March 12, when the league paused play.

The top four teams in each conference will receive an automatic entry to the first round of the playoffs, while the remaining eight teams play in a best-of-five qualifying series.

This year’s NHL Draft Lottery will include 15 teams in total — the seven teams that didn’t make the playoffs and the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round.

The best odds of securing the first overall pick belong to the Ottawa Senators (25%), who own their pick (13.5%) as well as San Jose’s selection (11.5%). The next best odds belong to the Detroit Red Wings (18.5%), who had the league’s worst record this season.

The NHL will use up to two phases to determine the order of draft picks.

Phase 1 will take place on Friday, June 26, before playoffs begin. Three draws will be held to select which teams receive the first, second, and third-overall selections in the draft.

The league will use placeholders to represent the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round since it won’t be known at the time of the lottery.

If all three draws are won by a team that failed to qualify for playoffs, AKA the bottom seven teams in overall standings, a second phase won’t be needed.

The remaining draft picks would be arranged in order of the lowest points-percentage when the regular season ended.

Now, here’s where it gets a little tricky.

If one or more of the draws is won by a “placeholder” team, AKA a team that loses in the qualifying round, then the NHL will move on to Phase 2.

The second phase will take place after the qualifying round of playoffs and only includes the eight knocked-out teams. Each of these teams, or the clubs that own their first-round pick, will have an equal chance of winning (12.5%) whatever pick is up for grabs.

If there are multiple draws needed for Phase 2, a winning team’s lottery ball will be removed after being selected.

That means that a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are in seventh place in the overall standings, could conceivably win the first overall draft pick this year.

In a live-streamed announcement, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman explained that “each of the losing clubs in the qualifying round would have, in effect, a 3% chance of winning the first overall pick.”

That means that if the NHL Draft Lottery goes to Phase 2, any of the teams that lose their best-of-five qualifying round could receive a top-three pick.

Regardless of conference standings, teams that don’t pass the qualifying round will have the same chance at winning a high draft pick.

Once Phase 1 and Phase 2 are finished, the remaining draft picks will be assigned in reverse order of points percentage.

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