The NHL’s controversial 2020 lottery system just had its most chaotic possible outcome: The 12th-seeded mystery Team E, with 2.5% odds, has landed the first-overall draft selection.

The Red Wings were the biggest losers of the evening among the individual picks — dropping from #1 to #4 — but the Ottawa Senators had the best combined odds (25%) at first overall with picks #2 and #3 only to fall to #3 and #5. The LA Kings won the draw for pick #2 and moved up from the #4 spot.

This means, with the NHL set to hold a Stage 2 to the draft lottery after the best-of-five qualifying round, one of the eight losing teams will be taking home the first overall selection. Each eliminated team will have an equal 12.5 percent chance of winning the pick. If the season does not go ahead as anticipated, the teams with the 8th to 15th lowest points percentage as of the March 12th pause will have the same odds (12.5 percent) at the first overall pick, as per Bob McKenzie.

Got all that?

Here are the implications as far as the Leafs are concerned:

  • It’s a good news night. While other Atlantic Division teams (Florida and Montreal) theoretically have a reasonable shot at landing Alexis Lafreniere in Stage-2 of the lottery should they lose their play-in qualifiers, there was a very strong possibility it was going to be Detroit (18.5%) or Ottawa’s (25%) #1 pick tonight, and therefore the odds of the future stud going to a divisional rival have dropped significantly.
  • As GM Kyle Dubas top-10 protected the Leafs’ 2020 first-overall pick that was moved to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau deal last June, while the execution of the conditions on such picks will need to be cemented by the league (likely on a case-by-case basis), if the Leafs lose the play-in qualifier to Columbus and win the lottery, the league would have to honour the condition and the Leafs would get to keep the draft selection.
  • If the Leafs lose the play-in qualifier and don’t win the lottery, however, the pick will likely still transfer to Carolina as it likely won’t be inside the top 10. Picks 9-15 will be awarded to the teams that lose their play-in qualifier and don’t win the lottery, ordered in the inverse from their regular-season points percentage. However, if enough of the Canadiens, Panthers, Rangers, Jets, Predators, Wild, Coyotes, Blackhawks, and Blue Jackets (all teams below them in points percentage) won their play-in series and the Leafs didn’t, the Leafs could end up with a top-10 pick. The odds are long for this to happen; just two of those nine teams would need to lose for the Leafs to hand over the pick.
  • If the playoff tournament does not go ahead as planned, the pick will likely transfer away from the Leafs as well and the team won’t have a chance at first overall as they were tied for 13th in the NHL in points percentage as of the pause.

As of June 26th of 2020, the Leafs now have a shot at winning the 2020 Stanley Cup or taking home the first overall pick in the draft. The year just keeps getting stranger.