Like most things in 2020, the NHL’s Draft Lottery was slightly different than past years. With COVID-19 pausing the season in mid-March and the NHL’s Return to Play plans cancelling the remaining games of the 2019-20 campaign, there were several wrinkles added in this year’s selection process. The seven teams who did not make the expanded playoff were automatically included in the lottery. The remaining 8 teams who do not advance past the play-in round of the playoffs are in the lottery, but were represented by NHL tiles for tonight’s draw.
The (mostly) determined draft order was:
- Los Angeles Kings
- Ottawa Senators (pick acquired from San Jose Sharks)
- Detroit Red Wings
- Ottawa Senators
- Anaheim Ducks
- New Jersey Devils
- Buffalo Sabres
Due to one of the unknown expanded playoff teams qualifying for a top-3 pick, the NHL will hold a second Draft Lottery following the play-in round to determine which team will hold that pick.
Here’s three takeaways from the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery:
1. Devils Pick Seventh
For the first time in the franchise’s history, the Devils will select 7th overall in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. It is the team’s third top-10 pick in the last five years of the NHL Draft. The Devils have the potential for two more first-round picks depending on where Arizona and Vancouver finish in the standings.
This year’s Entry Draft is considered to be a deep draft, and although the Devils do not have the top-pick, Interim General Manager Tom Fitzgerald is still happy with the outcome.
“We’re going to get a good pick, we’re going to get a really good player at number seven and you know, that’s the fun part of list building,. When you get down to it…you know the differences” said Fitzgerald on the Devils Lottery Live Show.
2. Who Has #1?
For the first time in NHL Draft Lottery history, the team holding the number 1 pick is unknown after the honored reveal. One of the eight teams eliminated in the play-in round of the expanded playoffs will get the top pick for the 2020 NHL Draft, as the NHL place holder was picked for that spot.
Due to one of the eight play-in teams winning the top pick, the NHL will hold a second Draft Lottery once the playoffs are set and those eight teams are eliminated. Each of those teams has a 12.5% chance of claiming the top spot, and their results will not have any impact in their chance.
Alexis Lafrenière is expected to be the first overall selection this year, but he will have to wait a couple more weeks before he knows where he may potentially end up.
3. Building a Strong Foundation
Over the last three drafts, the Devils have added some key building blocks for their future. Besides the two First-Overall Picks in Nico Hischier (2017) and jack Hughes (2019), the team has players on the main roster and in the pipeline that are anticipated to lead this team back to the playoffs. Ty Smith, the Devils first-round pick in 2018 is one player who the franchise has focused on developing to be a strong addition to the blue line. Jesper Boqvist (2nd round, 36th overall) split time between the NHL and AHL this year for the Devils, and is seeing big improvements in his game.
Whoever the Devils pick, especially in the first round of the Draft this year, will join an organization focused on building for sustained success in the future. The Devils have seen younger players step up this past season and will see which players in Juniors or the AHL are ready for NHL minutes next season. Unlike past years, there is no rush for players picked in the Draft to join the team right away, which allows the Devils to develop and groom their future stars. With potential for three First-Round picks, and more in later rounds, the future for the Devils franchise is bright.