The NHL will have the first half of the draft lottery tonight, and believe it or not it does impact the Rangers. It’s a bit of a convoluted process though. Tonight’s lottery will be between the seven non-playoff teams and eight “unassigned” teams.
The lottery will play out as normal, with the odds overwhelmingly in Ottawa’s favor thanks to San Jose.
The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight — 8 ET on NBCSN.
Reminder: The Sabres have more than a 50% chance of getting jumped by a team still eligible for the Stanley Cup. Odds of moving up are about 1-in-5. pic.twitter.com/AQ8Y6uBCUE
— Nick Veronica (@NickVeronica) June 26, 2020
The difference this year is we won’t know who the other eight teams are until after the play-in round. That is when the NHL will hold another draft lottery for those eight teams. Again, confusing.
The Rangers hold their own first round pick and either Carolina’s or Toronto, whichever pick is later in the draft. Tonight’s lottery will determine if the Rangers have an outside chance of again landing in the top-three. The best case scenario is having three “unassigned” teams nab the top-three picks. Unlikely, but it can happen.
After that, the Rangers both control their own destiny while also needing some help. Beating Carolina in the play-in round would ensure Carolina’s pick is one of the “unassigned” teams. However that would also ensure the Rangers do not get a top pick. The insurance would be Toronto also losing their play-in series to Columbus. Then both Toronto and Carolina would need to be one of the “unassigned” teams in the top-three.
The best case scenario for the Rangers is beating Carolina and Toronto losing. Then they both get top-three picks. That means the Rangers continue into the playoffs while also getting a top-three pick.
The worst case scenario is the Rangers losing to Carolina, followed by “losing” the second draft lottery and picking 15th. If that happens, it really doesn’t matter what Toronto does because Carolina has the option to switch picks.
Long story short – hope for three “unassigned” teams tonight. After that, there’s too many balls in the air. Either way, the NHL draft lottery tonight does have some impact to the Rangers – so it’s worth a watch.