Consolation prize of Alexis Lafreniere could await Islanders, Rangers at 2020 NHL Draft

Rangers Islanders
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn’t much fanfare that came with the promotion of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, which was carried out on Friday night in New Jersey to help decipher the starting order of this year’s selection process. 

But there is plenty of drama that came from it. 

The No. 1 pick of the draft will be decided in a second drawing that will take place after the first round of the NHL’s expanded 24-team playoff, meaning one of the eight eliminated teams has a chance to get the top selection and with it, the rights to snag the highly-touted forward, Alexis Lafrenière, of Rimouski Océanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: 

The first phase of the lottery resulted in the following, including the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators — who had the best chances of getting that No. 1 pick — sinking on the draft board: 

  1. Placeholder team
  2. Los Angeles Kings
  3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)
  4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. Ottawa Senators
  6. Anaheim Ducks
  7. New Jersey Devils
  8. Buffalo Sabres

The placeholder team had just a 2.5% chance of getting the top pick. 

It’s a cruel twist for the worst of the NHL’s worst, but it leaves the door open ever-so-slightly for both the New York Islanders and Rangers as a supreme consolation prize if they were to lose their respective play-in series. 

The Rangers, who are the No. 11 seed in the East in this year’s expanded postseason, face the No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes — a team they owned in the 2019-20 regular season before the coronavirus freeze. 

They will also receive the Hurricanes or the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first-round pick from the Brady Skjei deal they made at the trade deadline, dealing the blueliner to Carolina. 

As for the Islanders, they are the No. 7 seed facing a No. 10 Florida Panthers team they swept in three games during the regular season. 

If the Islanders defeat the Panthers, their first-round pick goes to the Senators as a part of the trade for Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The only way they can keep their first-rounder is if they lose to the Panthers and get the No. 1 pick. 

Would it be worth it? 

Lafrenière is the consensus No. 1 pick and is good a prospect we’ve seen in recent years not named McDavid or Crosby. 

A highly-skilled forward with explosive speed, soft hands, and emerging physicality has the tools to quickly become a premier talent in the NHL. 

In 52 games of the 2019-20 season with Rimouski, he put up a staggering 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) betting his total of 105 from the previous year in nine fewer games. 

He certainly seems as though he’s the real deal, and would provide most hopeful illusions of grandeur amongst the New York teams if they slip up in the postseason. 

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