The NHL on Tuesday announced plans to move forward with the 2019-20 season. But the league’s plan to conduct the annual draft lottery is a bit complicated.
Allow us to break it down for you.
The lottery, which determines the first three teams to make selections in the draft, could be conducted in one or two phases, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. The number of phases will be determined by which team lands the No. 1 pick.
The NHL has abandoned its regular season and instead is moving forward with 24 teams, excluding seven teams from Stanley Cup contention — Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings.
Those seven teams, plus the first eight teams eliminated from the league’s postseason structure, will be in the lottery, giving them the same lottery odds as in previous years.
Should the team that gets the No. 1 pick be one of the seven teams excluded from the playoffs, they will keep the pick. However, if one of the eight teams continuing their season wins the draw, the pick will be awarded during Phase 2 of the Draft. The same goes for picks No. 2 and 3. After that, the remaining 12 teams will be assigned picks based on their regular-season points percentage, but in inverse order.
Here’s where things get a little confusing, though.
If all three picks go to bottom-seven teams, there will be no Phase 2 of the Draft. If not, however, Phase 2 will begin prior to the Conference quarterfinals, and the eight eliminated teams will be assigned as Team A through Team H. They will be the only teams eligible to earn a No. 1, 2 or 3 pick at that point.
(Whew. Got all that?)
According to Bettman, “the format was adopted to maintain the distribution of lottery-winning odds that were in place entering the 2019-20 season.” This gives teams competing in the first round of the new postseason format the same odds to earn one of the top three picks in the 2020 Draft as they would have if the league had completed the regular season.
Bettman knows not everyone will be thrilled with the plan, but thinks this is the most feasible option moving forward.
“Obviously, these are extraordinary and unprecedented times,” Bettman said Tuesday, as seen on NBCSN. “Any plan for the resumption of play, by definition, cannot be perfect. And I am certain that, depending on which team you root for or which team you cover, you can find some element of this package that you might prefer to be done differently.
“But we believe we have constructed an overall plan that includes all teams that, as a practical matter, might have had a chance of qualifying for the playoffs when the season was paused. And this plan will produce a worthy Stanley Cup champion who will have run the postseason gauntlet that is unique to the NHL.”
Phase 1 of the Draft is scheduled for June 26. It’s unclear when Phase 2 will be held, if needed.