MONTREAL — A bright future is set to get brighter.
With 14 picks in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, including six picks in the first three rounds, the Canadiens are positioned to add a slew of exciting players to their deep prospect pool.
The 2020 Draft is shaping up to be one of the best in recent history. Franchise players, elite forwards, high-flying defensemen, and several notable goaltending prospects will be available. But due to the ever-changing landscape of the sports world, the 2020 Entry Draft — and everything leading up to it — will be unique and requires some clarification.
In 2005, following the NHL lockout the previous season, every team was given an equal opportunity to win the first overall pick. You’ll remember the Canadiens selected Carey Price fifth overall, falling just a few picks shy of getting an opportunity to pick Sidney Crosby.
But this Draft is a little different.
In fact, it’s very different.
The first phase of the NHL’s 2020 Draft Lottery takes place on Friday, June 26, to determine the draft position of the seven teams that will not take part in the Stanley Cup qualifier, as well as the eight teams that fail to win their qualifier series. Those eight teams will be represented by unassigned picks. Their actual draft positions will be revealed at a later date, which is yet to be determined.
Phase one will take place in three different draws, to determine the first, second, and third overall picks.
|Team||Odds (No. 1 overall)|
|Detroit Red Wings||18.50%|
|Ottawa Senators (SJS)||11.50%|
|Los Angeles Kings||9.50%|
|New Jersey Devils||7.50%|
There are a lot of moving parts, but essentially it boils down to three scenarios.
Scenario one: If all three spots are won by bottom-seven teams, Phase 2 of the Lottery will no longer be necessary, and the remaining bottom-seven teams will be seeded by their inverse regular-season points percentage, as will the teams that are eliminated from the qualifier series.
Scenario two: If the Canadiens lose their play-in series versus the Penguins and one or more of the top-three picks are not awarded to non-playoff teams, they will share equal odds in Phase 2 of the Lottery with every other team that was eliminated from the qualifiers (12.5%).
Scenario three: If Canadiens win their play-in series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins they are no longer eligible for the Draft Lottery.
Headlining the 2020 Draft is none other than Alexis Lafrenière, who established himself as the front runner for the first overall pick due to his excellent play with the Rimouski Océanic of the QMJHL, where he scored 35 goals and 77 assists in just 52 games this season. A dominant presence on the ice, Lafrenière’s quick hands, excellent skating and vision on the ice give him the ability to be a game-changer, though he’s not the only exciting prospect in the upcoming draft. Joining Lafrenière among the top prospects is Quinton Byfield (Sudbury Wolves, OHL), a 6-foot-4 centerman who combines size, speed, and a scoring touch. Tim Stützle (Adler Mannheim, DEL) is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft, whereas Marco Rossi will be the most productive forward available, having scored 39 goals and 81 assists in 56 games with the Ottawa 67’s last season.
The defenseman class is led by Erie Otters alternate captain Jamie Drysdale, who combines elite skating with a solid two-way game. He, along with Jake Sanderson (US NTDP) and Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL) will be among the first blue-liners chosen at the upcoming draft, whereas Yaroslav Askarov (SKA-Neva St. Petersburg, MHL) is the highest-rated goaltender among this year’s crop.
The Canadiens will look to add to an already impressive group of prospects, rated by many as one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. With their 14 picks in the upcoming draft, the Canadiens will push their total draft picks over the last three years to 35 players, a strategy that has yielded great results in terms of finding prospect depth at every position. Another way of looking at it is they’ve accumulated 40 percent more picks than they were originally given, pushing the youth movement to unseen levels in the organization.
Video: An inside look at the Habs’ scouting meetings
Whether the Habs qualify for the Draft Lottery or the NHL Playoffs come August remains to be seen, but the summer brings the promise of excitement for the Canadiens, the Laval Rocket, and their fans.
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