"We're going to get a great prospect, and how good of a player he becomes, time will tell. So we can sit here today and feel sorry for ourselves if we want, it doesn't matter," Yzerman said Friday. "The system is what it is, and it's the same for all the teams. We're going to get a great prospect, we're going to do everything that we can to develop him, and maybe we will get lucky."
Detroit finished the abbreviated 2019-20 regular season with the worst record in the league and owned the best individual odds to win the top pick as a result. This year's lottery format was slightly altered, however, and included eight placeholder teams that will be determined by the results of the play-in round of the league's planned 24-team postseason.
After one of those placeholder teams won the first overall pick of the 2020 draft in Friday's lottery, each of the eight losing play-in clubs will have a 12.5% chance at winning the No. 1 pick in another draw.
Despite entering the lottery with high hopes, Yzerman said the math suggested a placeholder team would come away with the top pick.
"I'm not surprised. Again, we had an 18.5% chance of winning the first pick. So realistically, I'm prepared to be sitting here today not talking about the first pick," Yzerman said. "I'm not really surprised ... the eight playoff teams had a 24.5% chance combined of getting the pick, so the odds were better that the first pick went to the bottom eight than it did to us."
Yzerman then pointed to the Colorado Avalanche as a reason to be optimistic. Like the Red Wings, the Avalanche slid to No. 4 in 2017 despite owning the best individual odds to win the first overall selection. Colorado wound up using the No. 4 pick to select defenseman Cale Makar, who has quickly developed into a premier player.
Alexis Lafreniere is the consensus No. 1 pick heading into the 2020 NHL Draft, with forwards Quinton Byfield and Tim Stuetzle expected to follow. With the top three seemingly set, Yzerman and the Red Wings will face a tough choice with a talented pack of prospects available at No. 4.