Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings await their draft lottery destiny with top odds now locked up

It’s officially official (sort’ve).

After falling in regulation to Carolina Tuesday night, the Red Wings have clinched an 18.5 percent chance at winning the NHL’s draft lottery. More importantly, however, a guaranteed top-4 pick. The last time Detroit selected that high was in 1990 when they selected Kieth Primeau third overall.

Now, technically Detroit doesn’t own the highest odds of picking first overall. As of today the Ottawa Senators have a 23 percent chance of landing the top selection because they own their own pick and the San Jose Sharks’, thanks to the Erik Karlsson trade from 2018.

Nonetheless, on a pick-by-pick basis, no one matches Detroit. That doesn’t mean much, mind you. There is still a 81.5 percent chance they lose out on the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes, let alone a 50.6 percent chance they slip out of the top-3 entirely.

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In 2016, the first year the current system was implemented, the Toronto Maple Leafs won it all with the top odds. In 2017 the 48-point Colorado Avalanche dropped to fourth overall, a shocker at the time. 2018 once again saw the league’s last ranked team in Buffalo come away with the No. 1 pick, that year taking Rasmus Dahlin. And finally in 2019 the Avalanche (via Ottawa) fell from No. 1 to No. 4.

If history repeats itself the Red Wings should be in good shape:

  • 2020 is an even year
  • The Avs are scheduled to lose out in 2021, not 2020

In all seriousness, it’s better to prepare for the worst, rather than hope for the best. That way you can still make it out relatively unscathed like the Avs did with Cale Makar and Bowen Byram. Fingers crossed, of course, but losing out doesn’t have to be a death sentence. The draft lottery is tentatively scheduled for April 9, the second day of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Some of the 2020 draft talent to keep tabs on leading into June (listed in no particular order):

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Alexis Lafreniere is the big fish of this class, being described as a franchise altering talent. He’s a winger torching the QMJHL with 35 goals and 112 points. As an October 2001 birthday, he’s on the older side but that shouldn’t mean much for a player that has dominated every level possible. He led Canada to tournaments wins at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2018 and the World Juniors in 2020, doing so alongside Griffins’ center Joe Veleno.

Quinton Byfield is a prodigy center with size and skating ability. He plays for the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL, posting 32 goals and 82 points in 45 games. He’d make for a nice consolation prize to a Red Wings team desperately in need of another high-end center to pair with Dylan Larkin. Byfield owns elite offensive upside with game breaking skills that can’t be taught.

Tim Stutzle is German center who may turn out to be a winger at the next level. Nonetheless, he oozes pure skill in an enticing package similar to David Pastrnak. He comes from the Mannheim system that developed Moritz Seider last season. Skating ability and puck handling is Stutzle’s biggest draw, making it very hard to ignore him at picks two, three, or four. His club season in the German pro league has unfortunately come to an end due to the coronavirus outbreak, however there is still the possibility he plays at the under-18s or mens world championships.

Marco Rossi is a center in the OHL who is on the smaller size. Quickness has been described as a cause for concern with Rossi, but he makes up for it with brilliant playmaking and creativity. As evident by his ludicrous scoring pace, putting up a point per game pace of 2.14, which is one of the highest marks for a draft-eligible player ever. Important to note: Rossi is a September 2001 birthday, making him one of the oldest players in the draft.

Lucas Raymond was once considered to be a surefire top-3 pick. By all accounts, his consensus drop is mainly due to the emergence of others. His draft year with Frolunda has gone well, albeit in undesirable circumstances. Pro league coaches will tend to shelter their top prospects, making it difficult to get a read on them. As for his attributes, Raymond is a shifty winger who plays hard on the forecheck. He could be an option for as high as second overall.