Previewing the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery

The 2020 NHL Draft lottery is scheduled for 8:00 PM Friday night. (Photo courtesy of NHL.com)

Introduction

Believe it or not, we are going to have our first live NHL-event on Friday. For those that do not know, the NHL is scheduled to have the league’s draft lottery at 8:00 PM ET televised on NBCSN. The New Jersey Devils are one of the numerous teams that have a lot riding on Friday night. The Devils, specifically, will be on edge given the three first-round picks the team holds, the most of any team in the draft.

The Lottery Format

Gary Bettman first announced the draft lottery’s structure during a television special a few weeks back, and it left many confused. To make sure everyone is on the same page come Friday night, I have laid out how the lottery is going to work below.

There are 15 teams eligible for the draft lottery, seven of which did not qualify for the NHL’s expanded return-to-play, 24-team playoff. And eight teams that did qualify for the playoff. These eight qualified playoff teams are going to be listed “Team A-Team H” in the lottery tomorrow. 

Tomorrow’s draft lottery is “phase one” of the process. It’ll operate like the lottery has for years. Each of the 15 teams (seven non-playoff teams, and “Teams A-H”) have different odds at landing the first overall pick. The odds of landing the first overall pick can be found below:

The odds of each team landing the first overall pick. (Photo courtesy of NHL.com)

“Phase two” of the draft lottery will only be necessary if a team(s) from the listed “Team A-Team H” wins the lottery and picks within the top three. In this case, the NHL will hold a second draft lottery – after round one of the playoff games commence – with the teams that lost to see which team(s) gets the lottery pick(s). If this lottery is necessary, each of the eight teams that lose their respective “round one” will have the same odds, 12.5 percent.

The Devils’ Picks

Photo via the New Jersey Devils’ Instagram page.

Their Own

The first of the Devils’ three first-round selections is, of course, their own. The team was awarded the sixth-best odds at the first overall pick. This is thanks in large part to getting the tiebreaker over the Buffalo Sabres who are the last non-playoff team in the lottery. 

The best the Devils can pick is first (if the team wins the lottery), and the worst the Devils can pick is ninth (if three teams jump up in front of them). Other possibilities for where the Devils’ first-round pick can land are picks two and three (if they win the lottery), six (if everything stands pat), and seventh or eighth (if a team or two jumps in front of them).

Full odds of what specific pick the Devils can land are above.

Arizona’s Pick

The Coyotes’ first-round pick was acquired by New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade. There is a protection on this pick, and it says if the Coyotes land a top-three pick, the Devils won’t receive their first-rounder until 2021. The only way this occurs is if one of the “Team A-Team H” teams move into the top three, and the Coyotes lose their first-round series against Nashville then proceeds to win the “Phase 2” drawing.

If the Coyotes beat Nashville in the first-round game or one of the “Team A-Team H” teams does not move into the top-three the Devils will keep the Coyotes’ first-rounder for the 2020 Draft.

Vancouver’s Pick

The Devils acquired the Canuck’s first-round pick from Tampa Bay in the Blake Coleman trade. Like the Arizona pick, this one also has a protection on it. However, the lottery has little to no bearing on this pick.

The only way the Devils do not get this pick this season is if Vancouver loses their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, meaning the pick would also slide to 2021. If Vancouver beats Minnesota, the Devils receive the pick.

Prospects to Look For

Below you can find a list of prospects based on how the lottery goes for New Jersey and the team’s first pick.

If Devils Move Up (top three):

If Devils Stand Pat (6th):

If Devils Move Back (7th-9th):

Note: Up-to-date rankings can be found in the Lafrenière profile. These rankings have changed from week-to-week, but those are the most up to date.

Conclusion

When first announced, the lottery seemed like it was going to be confusing. However, as you can see above, it is pretty simple. The Devils have the sixth-best odds at 7.5 percent. And with some luck can even move to picks two or three. However, the team can also move as far back as ninth, which is the worse cast scenario tonight. 

As for the Devils other two first-round picks, the Vancouver pick will not be affected tonight. However, the same cannot be said about the Coyotes’ pick. As Devils’ fans, we need to hope that one of the playoff teams (“Team A-Team H”) does not move into the top three. If this occurs fans will need to wait until “Phase 2” of the lottery to see what the picks’ fate is. If the Coyotes lose their first-round series and win the “Phase 2” lottery, then the pick will move to 2021. 

Make sure to check out Devils Army Cast, our very own podcast! This is where we will be discussing lottery results and more.

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