For some unbeknownst reason, the NHL is really moving towards having their 2020 entry draft in June. That's no problem at all, had the regular season come to an end like it normally should have. Problem is, the season has yet to be completed and is not likely to resume until July at the earliest.
We can hoot and holler all day about the draft happening before the season finishes, but that's a moot point now. It's time to face the reality its more likely than not it's going to happen.
A memo went out from the league office to all teams Friday night and it outlined what an early June draft would entail. The NHL's Board of Governors have discussed the June draft in great detail Monday and Tuesday but there is still no definitive answer on if that is going to happen as of yet although more and more in hockey media are beginning to speculate that it's getting likelier by the day.
From the perspective of the Minnesota Wild, they are caught in no man's land when it comes to the lottery. They currently sit on the outside of the playoff picture, but they are too close to the playoffs to be able to jump up to No. 1 under the proposed lottery outlined in the memo.
Here are some key points in relation to the draft memo and the Wild:
Teams Can Only Jump Up Four Spots For Winning the Lottery
The league wants just one draw for the top pick. Meaning much higher odds for teams finishing at the bottom of the league (Detroit). The lottery odds would be based on points percentage, not points, as there are teams with more games played than others due to the sudden pause. The Wild would come in at 11th out of 15 teams in the lottery in that scenario. If the Wild had their ball drawn in the lottery, that means they can only pick as high as 7th. There's also just a three percent chance of that happening under this scenario.
[caption id=attachment_65564" align="alignnone" width="1248] Numbers are percentages. Via TSN/Travis Yost[/caption]
Teams Can Only Move Back One Spot
Since one ball is being drawn, a team could only fall back one spot if someone jumps over them. From the Wild's perspective, that means they could only slide back one spot to 12th if they had the 11th best lottery odds. It would be pretty ironic for the Wild to have to move back one spot again, as they also had to slide back in the 2019 lottery to 12th after Chicago jumped up over them in the normal lottery. Between this and only being able to move up four spots in the lottery, the Wild can only pick from one of three spots, 7th, 11th or 12th.
The Wild Can Win Both The Lottery and Make The Playoffs
The draft would solely be based on current points percentage standings. Should the draft happen in early-June and then the season resumes play later, the Wild could, in theory, win the lottery -- moving up to seventh -- and still make the playoffs. The draft lottery would have no bearing on their playoff push. To make things even better, Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic has a model suggests that the Wild have a 0.03 percent chance of winning the lottery AND winning the Stanley Cup. So you're telling me there's a chance...
What Happens To The Conditional First Round Pick From Pittsburgh?
Per the memo, there are 15 teams that have conditional draft picks dependent on playoff outcomes. One of those teams is Minnesota, as they hold a conditional first-round pick from Pittsburgh which they got in the Jason Zucker trade. For Pittsburgh to give up their 2020 first-round pick to the Wild, the Pens only had to make the playoffs, which they were in a playoff spot at the pause. If the Penguins did not make the playoffs, they had the option of sending their 2021 first-round pick to the Wild instead of the 2020 first-rounder. But since the regular season has not concluded, the league has offered a solution for these picks.
From the TSN report: The NHL says it has reviewed the 15 trades that involve conditional picks with playoff implications and would be ready to suggest solutions to each trade or have both teams agree to “reform the trade on terms acceptable to both teams."
To sum it up, either the league would offer an acceptable solution to both teams in regards to the pick or both teams sit down and figure it out themselves. If the latter option is chosen, the clubs would have seven days to finalize an agreement. Should the Wild land the Pens' first-round pick, it would be locked in at 25th overall which is where the Pens were in terms of points percentage at the season's pause.
Those are the main takeaways for the Wild should the draft go on in early June in a virtual format as we saw with the NFL Draft last month. The league no doubt saw the success of the NFL Draft from a television standpoint and no doubt wants to cash in, in a similar fashion. Having the draft in a dead period for sports would be good exposure for the league and may draw in some fans that might not otherwise pay attention. So it might not be a bad idea after all from that aspect of it.