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Instead of Friday being the first day of the draft in Montreal as originally scheduled, the NHL held the first phase of its lottery instead and helped clarify some scenarios for where the Habs may be drafting in October.

Rather than get into the detailed minutia of all of the unique complexities of the lottery rules, here’s a quick overview.

Draws were made for the top three picks like usual.  The bottom seven teams participated while eight ‘placeholders’ were also involved.  Those represented the eight teams that will lose in the play-in round in August (if there aren’t any hiccups in the NHL’s Return to Play plan between now and then).  The odds for the first pick were as follows:

Detroit – 18.5%
Ottawa – 13.5%
Ottawa (from San Jose) – 11.5%
Los Angeles – 9.5%
Anaheim – 8.5%
New Jersey – 7.5%
Buffalo – 6.5%
Qualifier Team A – 6.0%
Qualifier Team B – 5.0%
Qualifier Team C – 3.5%
Qualifier Team D – 3.0%
Qualifier Team E – 2.5%
Qualifier Team F – 2.0%
Qualifier Team G – 1.5%
Qualifier Team H – 1.0%

Without further ado, the results were as follows:

1) Qualifier
2) Los Angeles
3) Ottawa (via San Jose)
4) Detroit
5) Ottawa
6) Anaheim
7) New Jersey
8) Buffalo

Here’s what this means for the Habs.  If they lose to Pittsburgh in their play-in series, they will have a 12.5% chance of picking 1st overall in a second lottery that will be held later on this summer.  If they don’t win that pick, they’ll choose ninth overall.  If they beat the Penguins, they will pick no higher than 16th overall.  Having a 1-in-8 chance at Alexis Lafreniere would represent more than double the odds that Montreal would have had if the lottery took place under normal circumstances.

If the play-in round doesn’t take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remaining bottom eight teams would participate in the second lottery with each team getting 1-in-8 odds.