In pure 2020 season form, the Nashville Predators have a seemingly decent and crazy chance at the top overall pick after the NHL Draft Lottery results.
If the Nashville Predators fail to advance past the qualifying round of the 2020 NHL playoffs, there is a 12.5 percent chance that they get the top overall pick in the next NHL Draft.
You may be asking yourself how that is even possible? Let’s take a step back.
Nothing is normal about this NHL season. When the season was paused and eventually deemed “complete” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it threw a wrinkle into everything. The NHL and Commisioner Gary Bettman has had to be very creative in developing a Return to Play Plan.
The entire NHL playoff schedule was pushed out several months, while the NHL powers-that-be concocted a playoff plan that would be fair to all of the teams involved. Thus the “Qualifying” round was born.
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Since the schedule was thrown out of whack, every event that goes along with the postseason was thrown off as well.
Things like free agency, the NHL Draft Lottery, and the actual NHL Draft would normally already have taken place.
But again, nothing is normal about the this NHL season. And it won’t be when actual games finally return, either.
NHL Draft Lottery
The NHL Draft Lottery took place on Friday, June 26. Coincidentally, this was supposed to be the date of the actual NHL Draft.
You might say that the NHL is a little bit ahead of itself since the Stanley Cup champion hasn’t been crowned. Not to worry, the NHL took care of this issue as well. Here’s a brief rundown of how it works.
It was decided that the seven teams that were not invited to the qualifying round of the playoffs would have the best odds of getting that number one pick in the lottery. But that would leave out the teams who would not move past the qualifying round.
To alleviate this issue, the NHL issued eight placeholders representing each of the teams that would not move past the qualifying round. They also issued these “placeholders” a percentage chance of getting one of the top three picks.
If none of the placeholder teams received a top-three pick, then the draft lottery would be deemed over, and regular-season point percentages would determine the remaining picks.
Well, I bet you can never guess what happened. Not only did one of the placeholder teams receive a top-three pick, but that placeholder team received the number one pick. The world will not know who gets that top slot until the qualifying round of the playoffs is over.
This might actually be a blessing in disguise for the NHL as overall interest will be increased even more for the qualifying round to see who gets eliminated and in the running for the top pick.
Once the qualifying round is complete, there will be another draft lottery to see which of the eight teams gets the coveted prize. After that first pick is determined, the other seven teams will receive their selection number based on their points percentage in the regular season.
The inter-webs went absolutely mental as soon as this news got out. Terms like “embarrassment,” “joke,” and “rigged” were thrown about quite a bit.
My consensus is that a couple of teams got royally screwed over in this year’s draft lottery. We may be loyal to the Nashville Predators, but you have to call it like you see it.
The Detroit Red Wings had the worst record in the league this year and the best odds out of any team to get that number one pick. They received the fourth pick. A terrible blow to a team that’s already had one of the worst seasons you can possibly imagine.
Both the Red Wings and Senators came out of this crazy draft lottery as major losers in all of this, and really to no fault of their own. Just a really tough break for two organizations that really needed that top pick more than some of these other teams that now have a chance at it.
The lucky winner besides the “yet-to-be-named” first pick winner was the Los Angeles Kings. They received the second overall pick.
Where Does That Leave the Predators?
If something crazy happens and the Predators don’t beat the Arizona Coyotes in the qualifying round, they will have a one in eight chance of snagging that top pick.
A top overall pick would be unprecedented for the Predators. It’s already been an up-and-down season that was frustrating at many times, but no one really believes that the Predators should be in the running for a top overall pick.
The highest draft pick the Predators ever had was the second overall pick when they selected David Legwand in 1998 as an expansion team.
So for the sake of argument, let’s say that Nashville does get the top overall pick. Who will they choose? It should be pretty easy to decide.
This would be a no-brainer for GM David Poile. The Predators would likely take QMJHL sensation, Alexis Lafreniere. He’s the consensus choice to be taken No.1 overall, including by the writers at NHL.com.
If the Red Wings and the Senators were chomping at the bit to get him, there must be a good reason. All indications are that Lafreniere will be playing in the NHL next season.
If the Predators don’t advance past the qualifying round and don’t get the first pick, where will that put them? The other seven losing teams in the qualifying round will receive picks nine through fifteen.
Which pick they get will be determined by an inversion of the team’s point percentage at the end of the regular season.
Some names in the draft that are hovering around the ninth to fifteenth pick are Dawson Mercer, Seth Jarvis, and Hendrix Lapierre. All three of these players would be beneficial to the Predators but may not provide the immediate impact as Lafreniere would.
A team that’s loaded with talent but somehow doesn’t advance past the qualifying round could wind up with Lafreniere. The outcome of this year’s draft lottery seems really unfair, but it is what it is.
On the other hand, a fringe playoff team that’s just a piece or two away from really contending will get the luxury of drafting the top overall pick in a draft class that has a clear-cut top prospect in Lafreniere.
As far as the Predators are concerned, Lafreniere should be a huge asset pretty much instantly. This would happen while joining a roster that’s not as bad as top picks usually jump on board with initially.
Crazy times indeed. Stay tuned for more coverage throughout the month as the NHL gets closer to returning.