The Detroit Red Wings won a grand total of 17 games this season. They were far and away from the worst team in the NHL.
How bad were they? Both the awful Ottawa Senators and dismal San Jose Sharks had 23 and 24 more points, respectively, than Detroit’s 39.
Yet after all that losing, general manager Steve Yzerman’s Wings won’t even select second or third. That’s because when the lottery balls finished banging around and then flew up the tube, Detroit ended up with the fourth overall pick.
Whether you agree with it or not, the NHL created quite a buzz Friday night. That’s because the moment it was announced that eight cards were going to be revealed during the broadcast, it meant one of the placeholder teams made into the top three.
One of the squads in the 24-team Return to Play plan that moved up was the fourth-place Los Angeles Kings into the two slots. The Senators, who had two chances, at winning it all thanks to getting San Jose’s first-round pick in the Erik Karlsson trade, will pick third.
While Yzerman might have been shocked, he publicly said he wasn’t really surprised by the result, via Detroit News:
“We had an 18.5 percent chance of winning the first pick, so realistically I’m prepared to not be sitting here talking about the first pick. So I’m not really surprised. The bottom eight teams had a 24.5 percent of getting that pick.”
Now the NHL will hold a Phase Two lottery after the eight teams are eliminated from the qualifying round in August. Each losing team has a 12.5 percent chance of winning the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes.
It is going to be a fun summer for hockey fans, and the consolidation prize of losing a qualifying round for one team is a generational talent. Tell us another sport that has that kind of intrigue going for it right now? Simply put, you can’t.
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An asterisk (*) denotes a non-consecutive stretch of playing time with the team. Wayne Gretzky's 99 has been retired league wide and is not noted here.