Finally! Some Actual Hockey News!

By Sylvain Godin | OSJ Staff

Finally, some sizeable news to bite our teeth into! Let’s look at what Gary Bettman revealed on Tuesday, May 26th, at 4:30pm ET...

The 2019-2020 hockey season is officially over: This was going to be a fact the longer that this COVID situation lasted. It’s sad that there are teams that did trades to try to get into the playoffs that may not see the dividends of said trades, but I will touch more on that later. With that, let us look at the final standing, so everyone has a good refresher:

With that in mind, Boston is your President’s Cup winner with 100 points. Even with some teams not playing the same amount of games as Boston, none of them come close to the point total Boston got. So, kudos to the Bruins. With that out of the way, the next point:

The NHL Draft Lottery is for June 26th: We wanted to find out exactly how the NHL will handle this. With the season complete, the standings stay the same and Ottawa has the second and third best chance of getting the number one pick (combined, that gives them the best overall percentage of getting the pick).

On June 26th, the draft lottery will be held to see who gets the top three picks. The lottery participants will be the bottom seven teams plus the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round (more on that later.) These 15 teams will have their set percentage, exactly like the 15 teams that would not have made the playoffs had the season ended after the usual 82 games. The NHL was nice enough to pull out this data:

The NHL Playoffs will be a 24-team playoff, with sixteen teams playing a “Qualifying Round”. Eight teams in the west and eight teams in the east will face off. The winners will advance to take on the top four seeds in each conference. Those seedings will be decided in a round-robin format. The losers of the qualifying round will then be slotted anonymously into the draft lottery, labelled only as teams A-H (see above), based on their regular season point percentage.

So now we come back to the draft lottery. On the 26th, the lottery will be held and the magic balls will do their thing. This is where it gets tricky because, again, we won't know on the day of the lottery which teams are slotted from A-H, the future losers in the Qualifying rounds. They'll have lower odds but one of those A-H teams may very well win the lottery. This then triggers a ‘second’ draft or draw to be held once the positions are known. This is where it really gets mindboggling. From the NHL website:

If each of the three First Phase drawings is won by a bottom-seven team, the Second Phase will not be necessary. The remaining four teams from the bottom seven will be assigned picks No. 4-7 in inverse order of their regular-season point percentage, and picks No. 8-15 will be assigned to the teams that are eliminated from the Qualifying Round in inverse order of their point percentage.

If a Qualifying Round losing team wins each of the top three picks, the bottom seven teams will be assigned picks No. 4-10 in inverse order of their point percentage.

If a Qualifying Round losing team wins one or two of the top three picks, any bottom-seven team not in the top three will be assigned their pick in inverse order of point percentage. The number of drawings in the Second Phase would depend on how many picks in the First Phase are won by teams that lost in the Qualifying Round. The odds for each losing team in the Qualifying Round for the first drawing of the Second Phase are 12.5 percent.”

So, what does this mean? For one, Sens fans should hope one of the qualifying round losers does not get a top-three pick. If they do, things get a lot more complicated. But it would basically mean this: Ottawa and Detroit get bumped down to 2-3, BUT, at that stage, the Sens would not yet be out of running for the top pick. The secondary lottery would determine afterwards who gets the number one pick between Ottawa, Detroit and said winner. While the Sens could lose the number one pick to Detroit if the Wings win it outright, the Sens would otherwise get a second chance at it in the secondary lottery if the qualifying round loser wins.

I get the feeling the first draw will determine the order right away with the true bottom seven. The rest just seems to be more ‘what ifs’ to appease people. Ah, well. Enough pot-stirring for one day.

Phew. This all seemed long and convoluted but, if you really think about it, it isn’t that hard. The system remains the same in the sense that the positions are awarded via point percentage and then the balls do their magic. The caveat is that the second lottery draft kind of gives the top two teams a second chance at number 2 twice in a row if for some sheer random luck, a qualifying round slot wins the lottery.

What does this mean for Ottawa? If nothing changes in the lottery, Ottawa will basically have the 2nd and 3rd overall pick. The Sens have a 25% chance of winning the number 1 spot due to having two picks in the top 15. Ottawa can do ‘no worse’ than picking 5th and 6th, even if everything goes to hell and three qualifying round teams win all three draws and the top three spots. If one of those qualifying round spots goes to the New York Islanders, keep in mind the Islanders' first-round pick is lottery protected for this year. So they would keep their pick this year and instead give Ottawa their 2021 pick.

At this point, there is cause for great excitement for the fanbase of the Ottawa Senators as the club is getting amazingly good players at any position they draft. Ottawa will get key players that will grow with the franchise for years to come.

So breathe, Sens Fans. You are almost at the end of the line of this wacky season. Barring COVID-19 running amok again, we can finally, hopefully, get a sense of finality to the season and move on to the new year and beyond.

You can finally be excited, Sens fans.

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