A spot in the Western Conference quarterfinals is at stake for the Wild in its best-of-five qualifying series with Vancouver that’s set to kick off the NHL’s return if the season resumes later this summer — and now so is a chance at the top pick in the draft.
One of the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round will make the No.1 selection in the draft, after a placeholder representing one of those undetermined clubs won the draft lottery Friday, which was held at the NHL Network studios in New Jersey.
Los Angeles and Ottawa filled out the top three, respectively, while Detroit — which had the best odds to win the first pick after ranking last in the league when the season was paused — fell to fourth.
After the pandemic postponed the draft, which was scheduled to be held this weekend in Montreal, the NHL rolled out a new plan for the lottery that included the seven teams not participating in the 24-team format to finish the season and the eight teams that would be eliminated from the qualifying round.
Draws were held for each of the top three picks, and because the placeholder position won the first selection, another drawing will decide who gets that spot.
Only the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying round will be included in that drawing, which will happen between the qualifying round and the best-of-seven conference quarterfinals, and everyone will have the same odds (a 12.5% chance). The rest of the top-15 draft order will be determined by inverse order of points percentages at the time of the season’s pause.
Details for this year’s draft have not been announced, but the league could go virtual like other pro leagues have. The consensus top pick is forward Alexis Lafreniere out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.