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Gary Bettman provides update on the NHL’s return-to-play plan and draft lottery

and how it affects the Colorado Avalanche

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Vancouver Canucks Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman clarified where the NHL is in terms of logistics for the NHL Playoffs and their Return to Play Protocol. He made concrete some of the rules involving regular season vs. playoffs points, timelines for training camps, and a narrowed-down list of hub city candidates.

The Draft Lottery

Another thing he did was announce the league’s intended order for the Draft Lottery and Playoffs. Specifically, the Draft Lottery will occur before the 24-team Playoffs have begun, but will include the 15 teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

Wait, what?!

Let’s back it up for a second.

24 teams are going to be playing games when the NHL is ready to return. The top-eight teams earn a bye, while the next 16 are forced to play a qualifying “Play-In” series that is best-of-five. From there, it’s four rounds to award the Stanley Cup. That makes sense. It’s weird, but it makes sense for the situation we’re in with a lack of revenue from the regular season.

The Draft Lottery is going to include all the teams that didn’t make the final four rounds of the playoffs, the seven that missed the qualifying round, and the eight teams that lost in the qualifying round. That also makes sense, none of those teams have a shot at the Stanley Cup so they should have a shot at the top picks for 2020.

But then here’s the weird part. The Draft Lottery will take place before the qualifying rounds have been played. Meaning, a team could win the lottery without even knowing it’s them! Or, a team could throw their series knowing they have a top-three pick waiting for them! I’m not a genius, but I’m pretty sure neither of those things are good!

A Draft Lottery with seven teams done before the playoffs would have made sense.

A Draft Lottery with 15 teams done after the playoffs also would have made sense.

This? This makes no sense.

While the NHL has covered their tracks should one of the last eight teams win the lottery by having a second draw for those teams, with each getting a 12.5% chance at the lottery pick, this is all still a massive mess. There could be two lotteries? So what are the total lottery odds for a qualifying team? What happens if multiple teams outside the bottom-seven win a lottery? Are any teams now incentivized to throw their Play-In round?

Granted, there are conflicting reports on this.

Timeline for Games

As mentioned above, training camps aren’t expected to begin until at least July 1st. They will be three weeks, according to Bob McKenzie. After training camps, teams will likely have to self-quarantine for two weeks once they are in the hub cities for the playoffs. The NHL is attempting to get the governments to waive this two-week period for their players, which is an incredibly risky and dangerous thing to be proposing, in my opinion.

Training camps will hopefully be completed by the second half of July, meaning Play-In games and the playoffs could start in August. Four rounds of playoffs take two months, so that ends the 2019-20 season in October if we’re all lucky and there’s no outbreak within the playoffs and things need to be closed a second time. There are countless examples around the world where groups have re-opened their businesses, or churches, or what have you, and then be forced to close them again after people got sick.

The 2020-21 season might not begin until December or January. Gary really seems to like the Winter Classic for some reason.

Hub Cities

The NHL currently has 10 candidates for their two hub cities, one in each conference. Colorado, one of the first US States to have an outbreak, is not on the list. Don’t think about travelling to the games, they’re (most likely) going to be closed to the public.

How it Affects the Avalanche

A quick review, the proposed 24-team playoff format will have a best-of-five “Play-In” qualifying round before the standard four rounds of the playoffs. (The league is currently mulling over making the first and second rounds also a five-game series, with the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals guaranteed as best-of-sevens, but that’s an aside). The teams in the qualifying round will be those sitting in fifth through 12th in each Conference, with the top four in each Conference earning a bye, and the bottom teams sitting at home.

The Colorado Avalanche own their first round pick, but sit second in the Western Conference (third overall), meaning they are already qualified for the playoffs. Under this system, the Avalanche are not in the running for a lottery pick, they’ll instead be getting ready for the playoffs.

Sorry, no Alexis Lafreniere this year.

Despite no chance at a lottery pick, the Draft will be an interesting time for the Avalanche. They’re likely going to be picking in the last third of the first round, and don’t have a pick until the third round where they’ll use the pick originally owned by the Leafs and acquired in the Nazem Kadri-Tyson Barrie trade. There will be good opportunities for either the Avalanche to trade down into the second round and gain picks later in the draft, as they only have one per round in the last five rounds of the draft, or trade for immediate help in 2020-21.


What do you think of the NHL’s Draft Lottery plan?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    It’s great!
    (22 votes)
  • 7%
    I hate it.
    (14 votes)
  • 29%
    I don’t understand what’s going on.
    (52 votes)
  • 50%
    Don’t care, doesn’t affect the Avs.
    (89 votes)
177 votes total Vote Now