Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

2020 NHL Draft Lottery primer: Details, odds, top prospects

2019 NHL Lottery Draft

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 10: View of the winning lottery balls for the first overall pick during The National Hockey League Draft Lotteryat the CBC Studios on April 10, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

(UPDATE: No. 1 pick in 2020 NHL Draft to be determined in second drawing)

The 2020 NHL Draft should have been taking place in Montreal this weekend, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed the NHL’s plans. Now, on what should have been the night of Round 1, the league will hold Phase 1 of the draft lottery.

You can catch the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN (Live stream link here).

There’s not been a determination yet when the actual draft will take place, but it’s pretty clear that Alexis Lafreniere will be the first pick.

What teams are eligible?

Unique times call for unique solutions. The draft lottery this year will actually be three lotteries that will determine the first three selections. Fifteen teams will be eligible in Phase 1 — the seven not part of the Return to Play play, plus the eight losing teams from the Qualifying Round.

Since the Qualifying Round has yet to take place, there will be placeholders set for slots 7-15.

Give me some lottery odds

Since not every team played the same number of games, they have been ranked by points percentage at the time of the March NHL pause.

1. Red Wings – 18.5%
2. Senators – 13.5%
3. Senators – 11.5%*
4. Kings – 9.5%
5. Ducks – 8.5%
6. Devils – 7.5%
7. Sabres – 6.5%
8. Team A – 6%
9. Team B – 5%
10. Team C – 3.5%
11. Team D – 3%
12. Team E – 2.5%
13. Team F – 2%
14. Team G – 1.5%
15. Team H – 1%

*Originally owned by San Jose

What are the Qualifying Round matchups again?

#5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens
#6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. #11 New York Rangers
#7 New York Islanders vs. #10 Florida Panthers
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets

#5 Edmonton Oilers vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks
#6 Nashville Predators vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes
#7 Vancouver Canucks vs. #10 Minnesota Wild
#8 Calgary Flames vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets


How will it work?

For the first lottery draw, if the winning team is from the non-Return to Play group (Nos. 1-7), that team will get the No. 1 overall pick. Same goes for determining picks Nos. 2 and 3.

But, if the winning teams for any of the three draws come from the No. 8-15 group then that respective pick will not be determined until Phase 2 of the draft lottery.

Wait, so we may not even know who has the top pick Friday?

Yes, that’s how things are being done this year. But if all three draws are won by teams in the No. 1-7 group we’ll know who has the top three selections. The four losing teams will then take up spots 4-7 in inverse order of their regular season points percentage. Picks 8-15 will then be taken up by the Qualifying Round losing teams in inverse order of their points percentage.

Should that happen, there will not be a need for Phase 2.

[NHL Mock Draft: Lafreniere head of the 2020 prospect class]

So, what is Phase 2?

Should we need to go to Phase 2 it will take place between the Qualifying Round and the First Round of the playoffs. It will feature the eight teams that did not advance out of the Qualifying Round or the teams who acquired a first-round pick from one of those teams. All teams will have the same odds (12.5%).

The winning team from each Phase 2 draw will be assigned the corresponding top three selection in the 2020 NHL Draft and, if another Phase 2 draw is necessary, that team’s numbered lottery ball will be removed.

Once the Phase 1 and Phase 2 draws have take place and we know the top three picks, the remaining 12 picks will be assigned to the 12 losing teams in inverse order of their points percentage.

OK, got it. I think. Anyway, what players should we get to know ahead of the draft?

Lafreniere will be the No. 1 pick. That’s been settled. After that? It could go a lot of different ways. Quinton Byfield (Sudbury - C- OHL), Tim Stuetzle (Adler Mannheim - C/LW - DEL), Lucas Raymond (Frolunda - LW/C - SHL), Jamie Drysdale (Erie - D - OHL), Marco Rossi (Ottawa - C - OHL), Cole Perfetti (Saginaw - C - OHL), Jake Sanderson (D - USNTDP) are among the top prospects expected to be selected early. Check out Ryan Wagman’s midseason mock draft to further educate yourself on these players.

NHL announces return-to-play plans
Top NHL Draft Lottery memories


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.