With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic shifting the course of the National Hockey League season, the league is now getting set to continue the 2019-20 campaign with their 24-team Return To Play format.
While the details have not been finalized as to when Phase 4 of the plan will be set in place, it was reported over the weekend that the league is preparing for a start to the qualifying play-in rounds and seeding round-robin rounds on Thursday, July 30. The league currently remains in Phase 2 of the league's Return To Play plan, and will commence Phase 3 (training camps) on Friday, July 10.
However, not every team will have the chance to compete for the Stanley Cup this summer as seven teams' seasons were ended when the league announced the Return To Play format on May 26. The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres have officially had their seasons come to a close where their records stood at the time of the suspension of play on March 12.
For these seven teams eliminated from the Return To Play format, the focus has shifted to the offseason and now on the upcoming NHL Draft Lottery this Friday, June 26.
Unlike in past years, this draft lottery format could see the league holding the lottery in two Phases, depending on how the lottery balls fall.
Phase 1 will take place on June 26 with 15 teams eligible to win the top-three picks in the draft. The seven teams that failed to make it to the qualifying play-in round will hold the best odds to win any of the top-three picks, while the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round will make up the rest of the 15-team field.
At the time of the draft lottery, it will be unclear which teams will be of the eight that will be eliminated in the qualifying round. With that, the league has designated temporary placeholders with the odds that the collective group would have had.
Here is how the draft order looks with the teams that will miss out on the 24-team format, and the unknown teams that will play in the qualifying round, along with their draft lottery odds:
1. Detroit Red Wings - 18.5%
2. Ottawa Senators - 13.5%
3. Ottawa Senators (from the San Jose Sharks)
4. 11.5%Los Angeles Kings - 9.5%
5. Anaheim Ducks - 8.5%
6. New Jersey Devils - 7.5%
7. Buffalo Sabres - 6.5%
8. Team A - 6.0%
9. Team B - 5.0%
10. Team C - 3.5%
11. Team D - 3.0%
12. Team E - 2.5%
13. Team F - 2.0%
14. Team G - 1.5%
15. Team H - 1.0%
If a top-three pick is won by any of the seven teams that missed out on the Return To Play format, that team, or the team that holds on to the rights of that first round pick will get that selected position. If all three teams that are selected are part of that group of teams that missed out on the Return To Play format, there will be no need for a Phase 2 part of the draft.
If any of the three picks were to be won by a team that played and lost in the qualifying round, Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery will take place before the Conference Quarterfinal rounds. This Phase of the draft lottery will only involve the teams that did not advance past the qualifying round, and all of the teams involved will have the same odds of winning the pick(s) at 12.5%.
Once the top-three picks of the 2020 NHL Draft have been determined, the rest of the draft order will determined by points percentage in reverse order.
The Sabres and Devils ended up finishing the 2019-20 season with the same points percentage at .493. However, the Devils were given the tie-breaker for a higher pick in the draft due to the Sabres having more regulation/overtime wins (28) than New Jersey (24).
Detroit finished the 2019-20 season with the worst overall record of 17-49-5, which is good for just 39 points in 71 games.
For whoever wins the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, they will have the opportunity to draft consensus No. 1 overall pick this season in Alexis Lafrenière from Rimouski Océanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The 2020 NHL Draft was originally set to take place on Friday, June 26 in Montreal, Quebec until it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NHL Draft Lottery typically takes place in the weeks after the NHL regular season has come to an end.
There has been no formal announcement yet as to what time the draft lottery will take place, or if the event will be televised.