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Report: NHL would revert to old lottery system if draft moved to early June

Kevin Sousa / National Hockey League / Getty

The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks stand to benefit greatly if the NHL draft is held early next month, with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reporting it could happen as early as June 5.

If the NHL does indeed hold its draft in early June, the league said it will revert to the old lottery system that was last used in 2012, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

In the old lottery system, only the league's bottom five teams have a chance to get the No. 1 pick. Teams outside that group can still win the lottery, but they can move up a maximum of four slots in the draft order.

Here's a look at the current projected draft order based on points percentage among the bottom 15 teams that would be eligible for the lottery.

Rank Team
1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Ottawa Senators
3. Ottawa Senators (via SJ)
4. Los Angeles Kings
5. Anaheim Ducks
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Buffalo Sabres
8. Montreal Canadiens
9. Chicago Blackhawks
10. New Jersey Devils (via ARI)
11. Minnesota Wild
12. Winnipeg Jets
13. New York Rangers
14. Florida Panthers
15. Columbus Blue Jackets

In the old lottery system, only the Red Wings, Senators, Kings, and Ducks would have a shot at getting the first overall selection.

Additionally, there would only be a draft lottery for the No. 1 pick, meaning Detroit could do no worse than the No. 2 selection, and the furthest Ottawa could slide back is to Nos. 3 and 4. In recent drafts, the top three selections have been lottery picks, which is why the Colorado Avalanche picked fourth in 2019 despite holding the best odds to land the No. 1 selection.

With only one lottery pick, the Red Wings' odds to "win" would remain at the 18.5% mark used in recent years instead of the 25% used in 2012, reports McKenzie. In actuality, though, the Red Wings' chances of drafting first overall get a bigger boost, because if a team outside the top five "wins" the lottery, Detroit holds onto the top selection.

The draft lottery switched to the more random format used in recent years to discourage tanking.

The reasoning for moving the draft to early June is complex. As Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Friday, the Stanley Cup wouldn't be awarded until early or mid-September at the earliest if the season resumes this summer. This would leave little time for a lottery and draft to be held before the 2020-21 season begins, which would be as late as December.

The NHL is reportedly moving forward with the altered lottery odds partially in order to ensure a team cannot win the lottery and also win the Stanley Cup. "While the league considers that a total long shot, it is prepared to concede the point and prevent the occurrence," Friedman wrote.

The 2020 NHL Draft was originally scheduled for June 26-27, but the event was postponed March 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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