How can the New York Islanders make the playoffs and still possibly get the first overall pick at the draft?
The New York Islanders are in the 2020 playoffs but they could still draft first overall if things don’t go well for them in the play-in round against the Florida Panthers.
Just think about that. The Isles have a shot at the Stanley Cup but if they falter at the first hurdle they still have a chance at making the first overall pick at the draft and take talented winger Alexis Lafrenière.
That’s wild and it merits a bit of digital space to go over.
Traded Away, Sorta
You might be thinking: “didn’t the Islanders trade their first-round pick?” And you’d be right. In the trade for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the New York Islanders sent the Ottawa Senators three draft picks. Their 2020 first-round pick, their 2020 second-round pick, and a 2022 third-round pick.
But the first and third-round picks were conditioned. That third-round pick would go to the Sens only if the Isles won the 2020 Stanley Cup, and the 2020 first-round pick was top-three protected.
So, for now, the Ottawa Senators hold the Islanders 2020 first-round pick. But if the Islanders move up to draft first, second, or third, the Isles get the pick back.
How do they move up?
This year the NHL draft lottery will be considerably different than it has been in years past. The suspended and then canceled regular-season forced the NHL to get creative to make things equitable for every team in the league.
Like every year, the 2020 NHL lottery draft will feature 15 teams. Up for grabs at the top three picks in the draft. But unlike any other year, the lottery will be done in phases.
The first phase will feature the seven teams not going to the playoffs. You can see their odds in the brackets.
- Detroit Red Wings [18.5%]
- Ottawa Senators [13.5%]
- San Jose Sharks (but really it’s Ottawa again) [11.5%]
- Los Angeles Kings [9.5%]
- Anaheim Ducks [8.5%]
- New Jersey Devils [7.5%]
- Buffalo Sabres [6.5%]
If all of the top three picks are claimed by these seven teams the draft lottery is over. No phase two. But, if they aren’t then we get the second phase of the draft.
In the second phase of the draft, eight teams will have an equal 12.5% chance at a top-three pick. Those eight teams will be made up of the eight losers in the play-in rounds. Only the top four teams in each conference don’t get a shot at a top-three pick.
Those teams are:
- East: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers
- West: St Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars
So, for example, if the New York Islanders fail to get past the Florida Panthers in the play-in round, they would get a 12.5% chance, along with the other seven losers, to potentially draft first overall.
What a consolation prize that would be. Mathew Barzal would get his winger. Never mind trying to find a top-tier player in the trade or free agency market.
I know I’m getting way ahead of myself and that the odds aren’t in our favor. And ideally, the Islanders make a deep run in the playoffs. But there’s a possibility and I wanted to live in that world briefly.
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