The NHL Draft Lottery was held Friday night and the winner of the first overall pick was…TBD. You may be asking, “How could this be… and who is “TBD”? Whatever is happening, it looks like a possible win-win for the Minnesota Wild.
We are in unprecedented times due to COVID-19, however the NHL Draft lottery was going to be different. As I wrote about after the NHL released their return-to-play plan, the draft was in a tricky spot.
Under the league’s return-to-play plan, which sees 15 clubs eligible for the first overall pick (seven seasons ending and eight who are eliminated in the qualifying round), there were two “phases” setup for the draft lotter.
Phase 1 occurred on Friday night. Under this draw, all 15 eligible clubs (discussed above) were eligible for the 1st overall pick. All teams, including those still qualified for postseason, technically had separate diminishing odds of winning that number 1 pick.
8 of 15 spots are empty, though… so technically, you can bunch the odds of those empty slots together. Detroit’s General Manager laid it out well. He was interviewed after they were pushed back from the #1 to the #4 spot post-lottery.
“To be honest with you, not surprised,” Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman said. “We had an 18.5 percent chance of winning the first pick. So realistically, I’m prepared to be sitting here today not talking about the first pick. I’m not really surprised. The bottom eight, or the eight playoff teams, had a 24.5 percent chance combined of getting the pick. So the odds were better that the first pick went to the bottom eight than it did us.”Steve Yzerman via NHL.com
This is where the TBD comes in. One of the eight teams who will be eliminated in the qualifying round of the upcoming NHL postseason tournament, will win that #1 pick. So, if the Minnesota Wild were to lose to the Vancouver Canucks, in said tournament, they’d have a 1/8 chance (12.5% chance) of getting that #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
After the qualifying rounds are played, and prior to the official Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning, the eight losers of the qualifying round will be drawn for the first pick. As the LA Kings were drawn for the second pick and the Ottawa Senators were drawn for the third. The Detroit Red Wings, who had the worst record in the league (by far), received the fourth. Detroit is used to robbery, so it’s not a big deal.
Bet big when odds are greatest
As much as it hurts to say it… after what happened tonight, it is in the Minnesota Wild’s best interest to lose in the qualifying round to the Vancouver Canucks. With an aging roster and young players chomping at the bit for NHL ice time, imagine what a potential #1 pick could provide.
The consensus top choice for that #1 spot is left winger Alexis Lafreniere. He is currently playing with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. As Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet wrote, “There is a completeness to his game that simply says ‘pro.’ There’s a quiet confidence that will allow him to overcome first overall pressure and excel at what he’s best at.”
A Brighter Future
Imagine, a future first line with Lafreniere, Kaprizov, and Eriksson Ek along with Kevin Fiala and Jordan Greenway right behind them. The Wild could see themselves go from perennial playoff contenders, to legitimate Stanley Cup contenders each and every year…
It would suck to see the Wild fall out of contention for the Stanley Cup, so quickly after getting back to play…. but their chances at a deep playoff run were doubtful, even before COVID cut the season short. With Kaprizov and Fiala both in Wild sweaters, we won’t have 1/8 odds at a #1 pick for a long time (hopefully).
Let’s push our chips all in while our odds are at their best.
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan