The Los Angeles Kings and their fans had an up-and-down Friday evening as the National Hockey League (NHL) held their lottery for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The Kings finished with the fourth-worst record at the time the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 virus. The lottery odds gave the Kings a 9.5 percent chance of winning the lottery for the first time since the lottery was instituted in 1995. Due to the cancellation of the season, this year’s lottery had a wrinkle in it.
Teams that were eliminated from the play-in format of the season re-start were eligible to win the number one pick with a 2.5 percent chance. This meant teams set to play would be eligible to pick first in the lottery even if they were and above .500 team.
Such a scenario would definitely create chaos and interest in the lottery process if chaos is what the NHL wanted chaos is what they got. As the draw was made eight play cards were brought out instead of seven meaning one of the play-in teams would indeed be picking among the non-qualifiers.
When the dust had settled the Kings were picking number two and a play-in team represented by the NHL shield logo was picking number one.
The lottery draft was certainly a win for the Kings. They started the night in fourth place and moved up to second, worst-case scenario had them dropping all the way to seventh in the draft. With a number two pick, the Kings rebuild can end sooner rather than later.
Most hockey media acknowledges that the Kings have the best hockey prospect pool in the league adding another talented prospect will make it that much better and it has the potential of making them contenders, much like the last time they picked second when they took Drew Doughty in 2008.
The Kings can pick from a pool that includes Quinton Byfield a 17-year-old 6′ 2′ center playing the OHL or a 18-year-old winger Tim Stutzle the best prospect from Europe who already plays professionally in Germany. Those kinds of options open the Kings up to a new renaissance.
The lottery draft was also a loss for the Kings, they have never won the lottery and they were tantalizing close to break that drought. Losing means the Kings will miss out on drafting Alexis Lafrenière the out and out can’t miss number one prospect in the draft.
Lafrenière would give the Kings a winger prospect that they don’t presently have in their pool that can dominate a game. It would give the Kings a superstar of the future who could lead the team once the current core of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Drew Doughty age out.
The Kings may yet pick a prospect who develops into a star player but Lafrenière could be a star from the beginning.