How the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery Works


The NHL will hold Phase 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery on Friday at 8:00 PM ET. It will determine the first 15 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft. This, based on three to six drawings over one or two phases.

Friday’s lottery will include the seven teams that did not make the 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs and the eight teams that are eliminated in the qualifying round.

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Phase 1

Phase 1 of the NHL Draft Lottery consists of three drawings. The seven teams that we already know are the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

All these teams were found at the bottom of the standings in March, which made them lottery-bound. Keep in mind that the Sharks’ first-round pick belongs to the Senators, who could end with two of the top three picks.

We won’t know who the remaining eight teams will be until the NHL resumes playing. The winner from each of the following best-of-five qualifying round series will move on to Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs while the losing team will end up with a top 15 pick:

Eastern Conference

  • Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens
  • Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers
  • New York Islanders vs. Florida Hurricanes
  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Western Conference

  • Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks
  • Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes
  • Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild
  • Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets

Lottery Odds and Drawings

By including 15 teams in the NHL Draft Lottery, the league is able to assign the same lottery odds system that it has used since 2016.

The lottery odds for the seven teams that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs were determined by their points percentage during the 2019-20 regular season. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to pause the campaign on March 12th but on May 26th they announced a Return to Play Plan.

The first drawing of the lottery will set the team selecting No. 1 in the NHL Draft. The second drawing, on the other hand, will set the team selecting No. 2 and the third drawing will set the team selecting No. 3.

If one of the eight teams that made the playoffs wins any of the first three drawings, a Second Phase will have to take place among the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round. The Second Phase, if necessary, would be after the qualifying round and before Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

These are the odds for the first drawing (No. 1 pick), along with the points percentage for the teams that missed the playoffs:

  • Detroit Red Wings (.275) – 18.5 percent
  • Ottawa Senators (.437) – 13.5 percent
  • Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks, .450) – 11.5 percent
  • Los Angeles Kings (.457) – 9.5 percent
  • Anaheim Ducks (.472) – 8.5 percent
  • New Jersey Devils (.493) – 7.5 percent
  • Buffalo Sabres (.493) – 6.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team A – 6.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team B – 5.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team C – 3.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team D – 3.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team E – 2.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team F – 2.0 percent
  • Qualifier Team G – 1.5 percent
  • Qualifier Team H – 1.0 percent

The Devils received better lottery odds than the Sabres because they had a worse regulation/overtime winning percentage (.348, compared to .406 for the Sabres).

What Happens Next?

After the first drawing, the odds for the rest of the teams will increase on a proportionate basis for the second drawing. The same happens for the third drawing, all based on which team wins the second drawing.

The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars will not participate in the draft lottery (they are the top four teams in each conference). We will release some season predictions on our NHL picks page next week. Check SBR’s betting guide for the best sportsbooks to bet on the NHL.

Friday Can Be a Big Day for the Senators

The Red Wings have the best odds of winning based the first drawing but the Senators have the second and third-best odds for a combined 25 percent chance at the No. 1 pick.

As explained before, if all three picks are awarded to either the Red Wings, Senators, Kings, Ducks, Devils and Sabres, then there won’t be a need for a Phase 2.

Picks four to seven will then fall into place based on the standings among the seven teams that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This means that the Red Wings will pick fourth at worst. The Senators, on the other hand, are guaranteed two picks in the top six.

In this scenario, picks eight to 15 would be given to the losing teams from the qualifying round of the playoffs, also based on points percentage as of March 12th.