Tue. Jul 7th, 2020

Just like that, Edmonton Oilers are in with a chance in the Alexis Lafreniere Sweepstakes

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Two-staged draft lottery highlights NHL’s Return to Play plan

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman took to the airwaves on Tuesday afternoon to formalize the NHL’s Return to Play strategy, or at least to build a few border fences around some wide-open spaces. While many details such as dates, locations and much more remain to be determined, a general framework is in place.

Lots of moving parts in this exercise, some of which (e.g. playoff structure) were already in place and merely confirmed by Bettman. Of more interest to this observer were the creative wrinkles introduced to the draft process that seem to have solved some very thorny issues. Let’s start there.

Draft lottery & Draft

  • The one date which is now cast in stone is June 26, when Phase One of an innovative two-phase draft lottery will be held. Credit where due, Bettman & Co. threaded the needle on this one, delivering a made-for-TV event on the evening the Draft itself was originally scheduled while maintaining competitive fairness for the lottery and, most importantly, delaying the Draft itself until after the Stanley Cup is awarded. So no “cart before the horse” time warps will be introduced by virtue of holding the Draft before the end of the season.
  • As of now only the top seven of the fifteen lottery participants will be known, namely the seven clubs that missed the playoffs. If any of them win the lottery/ies — a combined 74.5% chance at #1 overall — the winners will be known on June 26.
  • The other eight lottery participants will be the losers of the play-in round, which won’t be known for at least another month. The work-around? The odds of teams 8-15 will be combined, and should they as a group win one or more of the three lotteries, a follow-up draw will be held after the play-in round is completed. Each team will have an equal 1/8 chance to win that lottery. Each of the opening round losers will have a shade over 3% shot at this year’s prize, Alexis Lafreniere.
  • Which in theory includes the Edmonton Oilers. Given they will be favoured to win their opening round series over Chicago, their odds at getting Lafreniere at this moment are something below 1.5%. So you’re saying there’s a chance.
  • On the other hand, they need to win five playoff series to capture the Stanley Cup. Even if each is considered a 50/50 proposition, there’s about a 3% probability of flipping five heads in a row. So you’re saying…

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