Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman on a Zoom call following the news he’ll pick fourth in the 2020 draft.
Detroit Free Press
This is one unhappy mailbag.
The June 26 draft lottery was disappointing for the Detroit Red Wings, whose very awful season yielded the best individual odds in the lottery only to be pushed back to pick fourth. The event was a bad look for the NHL, which had altered the lottery amid the pandemic. The winner of the first overall pick is a club-to-be-named, because the league included the eight teams that, under the “return to play” 24-team playoff format, will lose in the qualifying round.
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The league could have limited the lottery to the seven teams excluded from the playoffs — that is, the teams with the worst records — but here we are: A mailbag devoted to the dastardly draft lottery.
[ Steve Yzerman encouraged by Red Wings prospect Moritz Seider. Here’s why ]
Q: What do you think the chances are that the NHL just decides to call it quits for the 2019-20 Qualifying rounds/Playoffs? Would they, could they, fingers-crossed, possible REDRAFT?!? – Aloha from Honolulu, James L.
Erie Otters defenseman Jamie Drysdale (Photo: Terry Wilson OHL Images)
It’s anathema to the NHL that the pandemic might scuttle the playoffs, and the league has not put out a release (yet) addressing that scenario. The NHL plans to hold the playoffs in two hub cities and take precautions (no fans, of course, for starters), though there’s a chance COVID-19 will force cancellation. In such an event, the expectation is the eight teams participating in the lottery for the first overall pick would be the teams that finished in inverse order of point percentage at the time the NHL paused the season March 12. Each team would have equally weighted odds. That would mean, for example, the Canadiens have a 12.5% chance of winning the right to add hometown-er Alexis Lafrenière to their lineup.
Q: I take it the nhl hasn’t thought out that a January start means a September finish and then another January start. And I am sure they have no plan or even idea how to get back to an October start. After all, they didn’t think through their lottery debacle with all the drama of placeholder winning the lottery and a playoff team getting the first pick. Josh B., via email
When the NHL laid out its return to play vision and the draft lottery May 26, commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is prepared to start 2020-21 as late as January if that’s what it takes to stage the 2020 playoffs (plus a reasonable offseason that would include the lottery and free agency). Bettman also said it would be a full, 82-game season. That usually spans six months, and even if the league eliminates the All-Star Game and winter break, and crams games, it’d still be summer before the regular season ends. Even with a truncated offseason, the NHL would have to push back the start of 2021-22.
Helene: For Wings, picking fourth yielded best — and worst — pick in franchise history
Q: Does picking fourth set back the rebuild? I was really hoping for at least second. – Holly M., via e-mail
Drafting second would have given general manager Steve Yzerman a choice of Tim Stützle and Quinton Byfield, who are expected to go after Lafrenière, the consensus top pick. Instead, Yzerman is likely to choose from top forwards including Marco Rossi, Cole Perfetti, Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz, and defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Picking lower isn’t a setback if Yzerman makes the right choice.
Steve Yzerman and Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings attend the NHL draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver. (Photo: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images)
In 2016, the Blackhawks selected Alex DeBrincat in the second round — four years later, he ranks fourth in his draft class with 173 points. In 2017, the Canucks chose Elias Pettersson fifth overall; he ranks second in his draft class with 132 points, behind top pick Nico Hischier’s 135 points, but Petterson leads the class a with a .95 points-per-game average. The Avalanche grabbed defenseman Cale Makar at fourth that year, and his 50 points in 57 games give him the second best PPG average (.88) among players with at least 50 games. In 2018, the Canucks grabbed defenseman Quinn Hughes seventh (one spot after the Wings selected Filip Zadina), and he ranks first in the draft class with a .77 PPG average, and fourth with 56 points.
There’ll be a high-end player available to Yzerman, he just has to figure out which one can most help the rebuild.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter.
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