There was no lottery luck for the Florida Panthers on Monday. The Panthers will pick 12th in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft after missing out on the No. 1 pick in Phase 2 of the league’s Draft lottery.
Florida was one of eight teams vying for the top pick Monday as part of the NHL’s altered lottery, and the New York Rangers won the pick and the right to likely select Alexis Lafreniere in the 2020 NHL Draft. This is the first time in NHL history a team without one of the seven worst records won the lottery and it came through unusual circumstances.
In June, the NHL held Phase 1 of its lottery, altered because the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the regular season in March. The seven teams not included in the league’s 24-team return-to-play plan were all entered, as were eight placeholder positions for the eight teams which would eventually be knocked out of the postseason in qualifying. The league held a separate drawing for each of the top-three picks. Picks No. 2 and 3 both went to non-playoff teams — the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators, respectively. The No. 1 pick, however, went to one of those placeholders. Placeholder “Team E,” with a 2.5-percent chance at the top choice, won the Phase 1 of the lottery. There was a 24.5-percent chance one of the placeholders would land the top pick.
If one of the seven non-playoff teams won the top pick, Phase 2 wouldn’t have even happened. Only the top three selections were handed out via lottery and the rest of the order is determined entirely by standings. Instead, the drawing triggered a second lottery for a group of still-to-be-determined teams, which wound up being the Panthers, Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. Equal odds were established and luck tilted New York’s way, sending Florida, which finished with the league’s 12th worst record, down to its projected spot.
The NHL Draft is currently slated for October and it will present one of the first major tasks for the Panthers’ new general manager. Earlier Monday, Florida announced it parted ways with general manager Dale Tallon after he spent 10 years guiding the franchise. Whoever succeeds him will have difficult decisions to make about the Florida’s underachieving young core and its still-unproven supporting cast, plus the potential long-term issue of underperforming superstar goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who just finished the first season of a seven-year, $70-million deal. He or she will also have a lottery pick, but not the potential franchise-changer Lafreniere could have been.