TVA Sports' Renaud Lavoie reported on Monday that the NHL could hold its Draft Lottery in a month.
Hearing June 26 is the date that we should have the NHL Lottery Draft. No dates on the NHL Draft yet.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) May 25, 2020
The date for the lottery has yet to be confirmed, but if it were to be held on June 26, that could potentially be before the season even restarts, or at least before the play-in phase is over.
With there obviously being extraordinary circumstances surrounding the potential conclusion of the 2019-20 season, it's still not clear how exactly the draft lottery will work.
In typical years, the lottery involves all 15 non-playoff teams. There are three drawings to win the top three selections in the draft, with teams’ odds being determined by their positions in the standings. The lower the team’s position in the standings, the better chance they have of being one of the top three picks.
The first pick determines the No. 1 selection. The odds for the remaining teams will be adjusted proportionally, then a second drawing will determine the No. 2 pick. Odds are adjusted again, and the third drawing determines the No. 3 pick. The remaining teams then select in the reverse order of the regular season standings.
With the expected 24-team expanded postseason format this season, it's not clear which teams would even be eligible for the lottery. There are seven teams left out of the 24-team plan: The Red Wings, Senators, Sharks, Kings, Ducks, Devils, and Sabres.
If the lottery is held before the season restarts, one option is to just hold the draft lottery with those seven teams, and only draw for the top spot or top two spots, rather than the usual three. Back on May 2 (before the 24-team plan) when the NHL issued a memo to teams arguing for a June draft, the league suggested a lottery format where only the bottom five teams would participate, and the league would only draw for the No. 1 pick. Given that suggestion, a seven-team lottery wouldn't be surprising.
If the lottery is held before the conclusion of the play-in phase, it wouldn't be fair to extend the lottery beyond those seven teams. It wouldn't be fair to create a scenario where the No. 12 seed Canadiens could win the No. 1 overall pick in the lottery, make a deep run in the playoffs, then go on to draft Alexis Lafreniere.
It would be ideal of the lottery could be held after the play-in phase. It's understood that that first phase of the 24-team plan, where the top four seeds in each conference play round robin games while the No. 5 through No. 12 teams play a best-of-five series, would not technically be considered the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that the "real" playoffs would be after that play-in portion, when the usual 16 teams would be remaining.
If it is possible for the league to wait until after the play-in round, then hold the lottery with the bottom seven teams and the eight teams eliminated from the play-in round, that would allow the league to have a normal lottery and a normal draft format. That way, teams who were eliminated from the play-in round would at least have the usual draft lottery spot as consolation, and teams in the 16-team "real" portion of the postseason wouldn't be able to move up in the draft.
Aside from the format, it will just be interesting to see how this will be broadcast. The event is typically televised, and you see deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealing the teams in reverse order by opening envelopes. The participating general managers are present, so we get to see their reactions to the top picks live. Is this year going to involve a Zoom call with Daly opening envelopes in his basement while general managers joining via webcam as well?
Whatever the broadcast looks like, hopefully the Kings somehow find a way to follow through with this plan from March 3:
Hearing that the LA Kings are talking to Will Ferrell about being their representative in the April draft lottery. Not clear it will happen. But I would love it. Stay classy, @LAKings
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 4, 2020
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