The NHL held their first draft lottery for this year’s amateur entry draft, Friday night, and the drama did not disappoint. When the dust settled, the Blackhawks were left with a fighting chance to win the first overall pick in the yet to be determined NHL Entry Draft, along with 15 other teams.
You read that right, the Blackhawks could still potentially have a shot at drafting the consensus first overall player in the draft pool, Alexis Lafrenière.
The draw for the first overall selection will be held during Phase 2 of the #NHLDraft Lottery among only the eight teams that fail to advance from the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. All participants will have the same odds (12.5%).
— NHL (@NHL) June 27, 2020
There is a caveat to Chicago’s chances, though. They would first need to lose to the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s Return to Play plan. They would then need to win a second NHL Draft Lottery, at an undetermined date, that includes the eight losing teams in the play-in round. This means that they would have a 12.5% chance of getting the first overall pick. If the NHL cannot resume and finish their Return to Play plan, teams 17 thru 24 in final points percentage will have a 12.5% chance at getting the top pick.
If, for whatever reason, the play-in cannot be completed….the remaining bottom 8 teams will have a one-in-eight shot at the top selection
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 27, 2020
As far as Friday’s results go, it probably wasn’t the outcome that the NHL had hoped for. The Detroit Red Wings held the top position with an 18.5% chance of winning the lottery but, instead, fell behind the Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators (pick acquired from the San Jose Sharks) and the yet to be determined play-in team. The Kings were the second biggest winner of the night, moving up two spots from number four. Ottawa came into the lottery with the second and third highest spots but slid back to third and fifth. Not quite a banner day for the NHL’s most deserving teams.
The results just further question whether the Blackhawks are better off losing in the play-in round or beating the Edmonton Oilers and qualifying for the final 16-team playoff. On one hand, they could get a reprieve from another awful season (that they in no way deserve), but they would miss a chance at a future dynamic player that could team with last year’s third overall pick, Kirby Dach, and usher in the next generation of Blackhawks top tier players. There is no question that they lack difference making young forwards in their system. As with any player drafted, there is no guarantee that Alexis Lafrenière will be an NHL star but according to draft experts, he is the top talent in the entire draft class.
Dach and Lafrenière could speed up the rebuild and potentially wind up being the next Kane and Toews with players like Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, and Calder Trophy candidate Dominik Kubalik looking like they could be solid secondary scoring options at forward. Evan Barratt, Phillip Kurashev, Michal Teply, MacKenzie Entwistle, and Brandon Hagel have outside chances to contribute at the NHL level in the coming seasons, also.
The defensive pipeline is splitting at the seams with players like Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, and Ian Mitchell close to competing for NHL jobs and players like Alec Regula, Stanislav Demin, and Alex Vlasic as potential candidates down the road. Dennis Gilbert and Lucas Carlsson have shown some potential in limited NHL time, but it’s yet to be determined if they fit in Chicago’s long term plans.
The biggest hole in the organization is in goal and will need to be addressed soon, also. Outside of Collin Delia, the Blackhawks have no goalies that have any NHL experience whatsoever and recently let former 2018 6th round pick Alexis Gravel become a free agent. It is expected that they will extend Corey Crawford when the season finally concludes but, at 35 years of age, he cannot be part of their long term solution so some decisions will need to be made by General Manager Stan Bowman.