If you are a Canadian NHL hockey fan, here’s what you know after today, Canadian-based teams now have a 12.5% chance of picking first in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Are they going to tank their series for that chance? Not on your life!
So, today at the NHL Draft Lottery, the craziest thing happened – again. The Draft Lottery went down tonight; and, the news isn’t completely bad for Ottawa — but it could have been lots better. Detroit got shafted. And, one of the six Canadian-based teams – the Vancouver Canucks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Montreal Canadiens – now have a 12.5% chance of drafting first overall.
Really, all they have to do is lose their play-in round. Crazy, right.
Suddenly, Luck Went from Bad to Really Good
When the night began, the eight “mystery” placeholders in the lottery (and six of them could be Canadian teams) had little to no odds to win. Actually, the odds ranged from 6% and 1%, I’m told. But, someone else had to figure that out – I can’t do the math. Still, a team that wasn’t expected to win the first draft choice suddenly did. And, although that’s exciting, probably the NHL is worse off for it.
We won’t know for quite a long while who that team might be, but it’ll sure be different.
Although, Who Knows? Will It Happen?
In this morning’s post, I noted that the Canadiens’ great goalie Carey Price wasn’t quite ready to sign on the dotted line quite yet to start the play-in. There are many health-related reasons to solve.
Thus, there remains a lot to do before the NHL’s 24-team constructed postseason actually happens. And it’s not a lock that it will happen. In fact, I haven’t heard about a Plan B – or is it Plan C – about what happens if the play-ins are canceled.
And, although it sounds as if I’m making fun of the NHL, I’m not. The league and the players association are working as hard as they can to have a completed season – for all sorts of reasons. But, it’s not a sure thing that the season will actually happen.
Now the question has to be asked: What happens if the postseason never happens? I don’t know.
I give it to the NHL for keeping things interesting; and, perhaps in this crazy era of COVID-19, it somehow seems fitting for crazy to continue to happen in the postseason. This is about the most exciting one can get in hockey, except perhaps when the teams are actually playing a game on the ice.
Here’s What We Know
We know that, if the play-in series actually are played, there will be eight of them. That means eight teams will move into the playoffs and eight more will be relegated to drawing for the first overall draft pick.
Those eight losing teams – and I mean losing the play-in series – will enter a second phase of the Draft Lottery where one of them might become the winning team of the first overall draft pick. There will only be that single second draw – and only one team card will be drawn.
When that first-and-only draw of the second phase of the Draft Lottery happens, each of the play-in tournament losers will have an equal 12.5% chance of being drawn for the first-overall pick. Once that draw happens and the winner is determined, the other seven teams are organized through picks 9 to 15 in descending order of points percentage.
Will a Team Tank to Win the Draft Pick?
Do I think a team is going to tank a play-in round for a chance at the number one draft choice of 2020? Not on your life. The owner and general manager might secretly want that to happen, but I can’t imagine those words ever being spoken.
As for the players, no professional player – and few players anywhere – would tank a series for a draft choice. I could be totally wrong, but I cannot imagine anyone who ever played sports would do that. I say that no so much as a matter of ethics, but as a matter of arrogance.
Not a single NHL hockey player who enters the play-in round is thinking of next season. They want the Stanley Cup now and, in their heart of hearts, they believe there’s a chance. They will fight hard for it!