In a season already full of chaos, why not?
The first overall pick in the NHL draft was awarded in the lottery Friday night to a team to be named later.
Here’s how that works in the NHL’s complicated lottery setup that sprung from a season halted March 12 because of the coronavirus.
The lottery included the seven teams that are not part of the league’s return-to-play plan, which is set for 24 teams, and eight placeholder positions. In a scenario in which the season does resume, those placeholders were for the teams that would lose in a 16-team play-in round that would set a 16-team playoff field. (That field has eight automatic qualifiers: the top four teams in each conference based on points percentage March 12, one of them the Lightning.)
One of the placeholders won the top pick.
To determine which team gets that pick, a second phase of the lottery is scheduled to be held after the play-in round, to include all eight eliminated teams or the teams that acquired their first-round pick in a trade.
The teams set for the play-in round are the Coyotes, Flames, Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Oilers, Panthers, Wild, Canadiens, Islanders, Rangers, Predators, Penguins, Maple Leafs, Canucks and Jets.
If the league doesn’t resume its season, the teams with the eighth- to 15th-lowest points percentage on March 12 outside of teams that were in playoff positions based on point percentages would have equal shots at getting the No. 1 pick in a second lottery phase, Canada’s TSN TV network reported.
In the lottery’s first phase, the Kings won the second pick and the Senators the third with the Sharks’ selection from the 2018 Erik Karlsson trade.
The Red Wings dropped to the fourth pick despite finishing last in the NHL and 23 points.
The presumptive top draft pick is Alexis Lafreniere, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound wing out of the Quebec Major Junior League. Lafreniere has 114 goals and 297 points in 173 games with Rimouski in the Quebec league. He also captained Canada’s gold-medal team and earned MVP honors at the world junior championships this year.