Well that certainly was fun, wasn’t it?
The 2020 NHL Draft Lottery didn’t disappoint in tossing some twists and turns as we march slowly towards the 2020 NHL Draft.
We’ll get there, eventually, and Friday night was the first step.
It created the second step, too, as in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery. Placeholder Team E, with a 2.5 percent chance, won the No. 1 pick in the Draft Lottery on Friday, and likely the consensus No. 1 in Rimouski Oceanic standout Alexis Lafreniere.
It’ll prompt the Second Phase to come into play to determine the proper rightsholder to the pick, selected from the eight teams eliminated from the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Each of the eliminated teams will have a 12.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick.
That means the Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets are still in play.
But seven teams know their fate as of now.
And here’s how those opening eight picks could potentially shake out.
No. 1 Placeholder Team E – Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
It doesn’t much matter which team lands this pick. Lafreniere has been the unanimous consensus top pick from pillar to post, end to end, whatever to whatever. The expectation was that he’d be the top pick long before entering his draft year. He capped his season with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) to earn his second of back-to-back Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year honors – the first player to earn that distinction since Sidney Crosby in 2004 and 2005. It’s a no-brainer for whichever team – any of the 16 potential candidates – gets the luxury of adding Lafreniere at No. 1. (@Aaron Vickers)
No. 2 Los Angeles Kings – Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
Los Angeles has one of, if not the best prospect pool in the NHL and a ton of depth down the middle — highlighted by 2019 first-rounder Alex Turcotte. But that shouldn’t stop them from taking the second-best prospect in this draft at No. 2. Byfield, one of the youngest prospects eligible for the 2020 draft, led the Wolves with 82 points (32 goals, 59 assists). A future one-two punch of Byfield and Turcotte with Anze Kopitar showing them the ropes? That’s too good to pass up. (@Josh Bell)
No. 3 Ottawa Senators – Tim Stutzle, C, Mannheim (DEL)
Stutzle fits the bill nicely of a needed elite offensive forward talent in Ottawa. His speed, particularly with the puck through transition, is elite and part of why he is thought so highly of, and. his ability to break the puck out with control, quickly move through the neutral zone and break into the defensive zone make him highly coveted in the modern game. On top of this, his puckhandling skills make him hard to contain, and he possesses a quick release shot, too. Having played in the DEL, Stutzle has shown that he can play against men and compete in all areas of the ice when required. (@Dylan Galloway)
No. 4 Detroit Red Wings – Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
While it would be tough to pass up on a two-way blueliner with elite offensive tools like Jamie Drysdale, Detroit is in dire need of blue-chip forward prospects. Enter Rossi, who led both the Ontario Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League with 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in 56 games while playing big minutes in all situations for one of the Major Junior’s top teams in Ottawa. Rossi shows advanced defensive awareness for a young center and consistently drives play in the offensive zone regardless of who he plays with. Rossi and Dylan Larkin would form a formidable one-two down the middle for years to come. (@Joseph Aleong)
No. 5 Ottawa Senators – Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-NEVA (VHL)
While some may consider this an off the board pick, it gives Ottawa the opportunity to grab a franchise-changing level player at the No. 5 spot. While Askarov didn’t have an ideal showing at 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, the larger picture of his pro season in the VHL is much more impressive, posting a .920 save percentage. His ability to control pucks as they hit him, direct rebounds, and effortlessly cover a significant area of the net make him the best goaltending prospect since Carey Price. A goalie of Askarov’s caliber doesn’t come along very often and projects him to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL for a very long time. (@Dylan Galloway)
No. 6 Anaheim Ducks – Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
There’s a difficult choice to make here between Drysdale and Lucas Raymond, but the pick goes the way of the smooth-skating defenseman, after Anaheim went forward-heavy in their past few drafts. Drysdale has legitimate top-pairing upside, something that the organization’s prospect pipeline is short on. With Drysdale on the back end and Trevor Zegras up front, the Ducks could be a dominant possession and transition team for years to come. (@Derek Neumeier)
No. 7 New Jersey Devils – Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (SHL)
Raymond, seen as a slight faller in this scenario, is intriguing as he is a pro-tested youngster with a lot of potential unknowns and intriguing qualities in tow — but was limited in time as a rookie on the deep Frolunda club. His game is well layered and has the equivalent of a five-tool game in baseball, using his ability to understand where to be on the ice to provide a double-edged sword with his puck or passing skill and shot on offense. He has relentless pursuit and good habits in coverage scenarios, too. The nice thing about this addition is that it adds another cerebral element to the mix up front for the Devils nucleus of Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt, but also the because of the versatility he offers, Raymond may very well be able to thrive and drive on a line of his own down the road. He’s the best guy on the board here and feels like a natural fit for the team at this juncture. (@Justin Froese)
No. 8 Buffalo Sabres – Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SHL)
Getting the top player left on the board in Holtz is fantastic. Getting help alongside Jack Eichel is icing on the cake. Holtz is a goal scorer, arguably the best in the class, and offensive threat each time he steps on the ice. He plays a solid game in all three zones and has the hockey sense to take off as a 200-foot forward. When his skating catches up to his elite snipe, Holtz will be a prize, and his arrival should take pressure off Eichel. (@Ray Napientek)
Picks No. 9-15 will be allotted to the teams that lose the eight qualifier series, in inverse order of how they finished during the regular season via points percentage.
Picks No. 16-31 will be determined by the results of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.