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Carolina Hurricanes 2020 Draft Scenarios

As it currently sits, the Carolina Hurricanes have anywhere from six to eight picks to utilize in the 2020 NHL draft. The discrepancy comes from conditions on a few of the picks that have not yet been resolved, those being the picks involved in the Patrick Marleau, Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen trades. Even with those though, we can still take a look at all the scenarios that can play out for the Canes.

The loudest cheers at the draft so far were reserved for this man Mitchell Leff

How does the draft lottery work? Recap:

The NHL draft lottery will be administered in two phases. In the first phase, the lottery will be carried out with the same predetermined odds for the 1-15 positions. The caveat is that only the seven teams not returning to play will be represented. The other eight positions will all be placeholder positions. This is due to the fact that phase one of the draft lottery will be held well before any games are played.

If all three lottery picks are awarded to the seven teams represented, then nothing more will be done in regards to the draft lottery as all picks will be decided and teams will fill into remaining positions as eliminated.

However, if any of the lottery picks are awarded to one of the placeholders in positions 8-15, which there is a 24.5% chance of, then phase two of the draft lottery will take place.

In phase two, if any of the seven represented teams was awarded one or two of the lottery positions, then those teams still hold those picks. Only the picks that were won by a placeholder are up for grabs in phase two. For these picks, every team from 1-15, who has not already been awarded another lottery pick, has the exact same odds of winning the pick or picks up for grabs.

For example: In phase one, pick number three is awarded to the Anaheim Ducks, then it is revealed that placeholder H is awarded the second overall pick. Finally, the Detroit Red Wings win the first overall pick. Pick one and three are determined, but another round will need to take place to determine who gets pick two.

Now, phase two will take place. In phase two, the five teams that did not return to play and did not win a lottery pick will be joined by the eight teams that were eliminated in the qualifying play-in round. Detroit would still hold the first pick and Anaheim the third, but neither would have odds in for the second overall pick. However, positioning is irrelevant as all of the represented teams, whether it is one who didn’t return to play or is the top-seeded team eliminated in the play-in round, have the exact same odds for winning that pick. The same process is carried out if more than one pick is sent to phase two.

  • Canes Picks

CAR 1*, TOR 1*, CAR 2, NYR 2, CAR 3*, BUF 3, CAR 4*, CAR 7, TOR 7

  • The first-round

The Carolina Hurricanes hold two first-round picks, their own and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Carolina can not use both of them at the draft as they still owe a first-round pick to the New York Rangers due to the trade for Brady Skjei. The Hurricanes have a condition on the trade with New York to send the worst of the two picks they have, but with that, there is also a chance that Carolina ends up with no first-round selection for the 2020 draft.

Carolina has no selection

Let’s start with the worst outcome first.

The only way for this to come to fruition is if Toronto manages to wind up with a top-10 pick this year. Mathematically, the only spots the Leafs can end up in within that parameter is the lottery spots, picks 1-3.

Spots 1-7 are theoretically already held by the teams that will not be returning to play (theoretically because lottery teams can jump to one, two or three and push the seven teams back) and no matter how the qualifying round plays out, there will always be three teams that will finish above Toronto in draft seeding.

In no possible way, can Toronto end up in the top-10 without winning a lottery pick. So for this to happen, one of the three draft lottery spots has to go to a placeholder, Toronto needs to lose the qualifying play-in round to the Columbus Blue Jackets and then in phase two, Toronto has to be awarded a lottery pick.

In this situation, the condition on the pick takes effect, moving the pick awarded to the Hurricanes from the Marleau deal to 2021 and leaving the Hurricanes with only their own pick which then is transferred to the New York Rangers no matter where it ends up being and then Carolina has no first-round pick in 2020.

There is a slim-chance, nightmare scenario in which the Canes could end up giving the Rangers a top-three pick: Carolina loses to New York, Toronto loses to Columbus and the Canes and Leafs both win top three picks.

Where Carolina can pick

For the Canes to have no first-round pick in 2020, a lot of things have to line up, and it is more than likely that the Hurricanes will be making a first-round selection. For instance, if Toronto beats Columbus, then no matter what, the Canes will have a first-round pick. But where exactly can that pick land?

Starting with the most favorable positions, Carolina does have a slim chance to end up with any of the three lottery picks. For that to happen, a lottery pick would have to be awarded to a placeholder, the Hurricanes would then have to lose in the qualifying play-in round to the New York Rangers. They would then need to be awarded the pick in phase two of the lottery draft and Toronto would either have needed to beat Columbus or not be awarded a lottery pick.

Further down, the Hurricanes can pick anywhere from 11-31. With the current play-in seeding, Toronto’s pick can be as high as 11th overall, while Carolina’s as high as 14th, if no lottery picks are awarded to either. From there, either team can fall anywhere in the spectrum depending on which teams advance in the playoffs and which are eliminated.

Granted, this is all hanging on the NHL returning to play as no alternative has been put forth by the league in the case that the season is cancelled. In that case, it may be safe to assume the draft would simply fall into place based on point percentages meaning that the Canes would send their pick, number 23 to the Rangers, and would themselves draft in Toronto’s position, number 19.

  • Past the first round

The Hurricanes currently own seven picks outside of the first-round of the 2020 draft.

In the second round, Carolina holds its own pick as well as the New York Rangers’ 2020 second-round pick that was acquired as part of the Adam Fox trade. The original return was a 2019 second and a conditional 2020 third, but since the condition of Fox playing in at least 30 games in the 2019-20 regular season was met, the pick was upgraded to a second.

In the third round, the Canes hold their own pick as well as the Buffalo Sabres’ pick that was acquired as part of the Jeff Skinner trade.

However, there is a bit of debate over whether or not Carolina may have to hand over its third-round pick as part of the Vatanen trade with the New Jersey Devils. The trade involved a conditional fourth-round pick if Vatanen appeared in five regular season games.

This is obviously not in question as the league made it clear that the regular season was considered over and Vatanen didn’t appear in any games, but there was another condition on the pick saying that if Vatanen played in 12 regular season games or if he appeared in 70% of playoff games the pick would become a third.

The first part is a toss away, but there is a chance Vatanen can play in 70% of the teams playoff games. A big part of it is dependent on if the league will consider the qualifying play-in round games as playoff games and currently nothing has been made clear in regards to that.

In the fourth round, the team holds just its own fourth-round pick.

The Canes traded away their fifth-round pick to the St. Louis Blues alongside Justin Faulk for Joel Edmundson, Dominik Bokk and a 2021 seventh.

The team also traded away its sixth-round pick in the Marleau deal with the Leafs, but got Toronto’s seventh-round pick back alongside the conditional first. Carolina also holds its own seventh-round pick.

It is too early to know what the 2020 draft will mean for the Hurricanes, but these are the current scenarios the team is looking at.