The NHL Draft Lottery is random. It’s intended to create chaos and stir up controversy — i.e. the NHL “fixing” the draft lottery for the New York Rangers to select first overall. There’s nothing to prove that this happened but there are always going to be people who believe that it did happen. But you’re not going to make everyone happy, and Detroit Red Wings fans shouldn’t be upset with how things played out.
“To be honest with you, I’m not really surprised.”Steve Yzerman
It’s in the Name, Draft “Lottery”
Let’s all remember, this is a lottery. Cambridge English Dictionary defines “lottery” as “a game, often organized by the state or a charity in order to make money, in which tickets with numbers are sold to people who then have a chance at winning a prize if their number is chosen.” That’s exactly what the NHL Draft Lottery is. A game, organized by the state (the NHL) to make money, in which tickets with numbers (in this case, ping pong balls with numbers) are sold to people (NHL teams) who then have a chance at winning a prize if their number (pin pong ball) is chosen.
The NHL Draft Lottery is anything but a planned chain of events because it is a lottery. It’s all about chance and luck and like most of the 2019-20 season, there was no chance and luck for the Red Wings. As a result, the Red Wings will pick outside the top three for the 30th straight NHL Draft.
This Was the Most Likely Outcome
Having the Red Wings pick fourth in the NHL Draft was the most likely outcome. Do I like the results from the Draft Lottery? No, not at all. I’m pretty sure every Red Wings fan felt like Tony Wolak when Bill Daly revealed the Winged Wheel’s draft position. But, when you break down the numbers, it’s not shocking at all to see Detroit picking fourth.
As general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman rightfully pointed out, Teams A-H had a better chance collectively of grabbing the first-overall pick than the Red Wings did. The Ottawa Senators, with their first-round pick and the San Jose Sharks’ first-round pick they acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade, had a 25% chance of picking first overall. The numbers just weren’t in the Red Wings’ favour.
Good Players Have Been Picked 4th Overall Before
As one of my buddies told me after the Red Wings missed out on first overall, “Hey man, don’t sweat it! Plenty of good players have been drafted at fourth overall.” That statement is true as plenty of quality players have been taken fourth overall, including Yzerman, Larry Murphy, Ron Francis, Mitch Marner, and Cale Makar. It’s just hard accepting your fate when you missed out on securing a potential superstar for the next decade.
I even wrote about four good options for Detroit at fourth overall, so there is still hope for Red Wings fans. While the NHL Draft Lottery did not go their way, the Red Wings will still be able to draft a bright prospect for the future. It won’t be Alexis Lafreniere, but it’s still a promising young player that fans can root for.
It Could Be Worse…Right?
Being a Red Wings fan means rooting for a team with one of the most storied histories in the NHL. This team made the playoffs for 25-straight years (a quarter of a century!), a mark we’ll never see again in the salary cap era.
The Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups in franchise history, the third-most for any current NHL team. If you put things into perspective, you realize as a Red Wings fan how thankful you should be that you get to cheer for an amazing team. Missing out on the top spot in the NHL Draft Lottery isn’t the end of the world. Things could be much worse and it will be even better when they hit the ice again next season.