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2020 NHL Draft Lottery Phase 1: Start time, TV schedule, explanation, odds, and how to watch

Everything you need to know about tonight’s lotteries to determine draft positioning and the potential for a Phase 2.

2008 NHL Draft Drawing Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images for the NHL

Since the world was put on hold, it seems everything is now happening in phases. The 2020 NHL Draft Lottery will be no different, with a usual 15-team draw taking place first, and potentially a second event several weeks later.

The reason for the new procedure is the NHL’s 24-team playoff format that will have some of those 15 teams vying for spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The goal is to keep the process as close to the normal plan as possible, while also trying to maintain the integrity of a qualification series to determine the final four seeds in each conference.

Without knowing which eight teams will lose the qulification rounds, only the seven clubs eliminated from playoff contention will know their final position tonight. The remaining spots will be assigned once the qualification round is complete.

How to watch

Start time: 8:00 PM EDT / 5:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the USA: NBCSN, NHL Network
Elsewhere: Rogers NHL Live/

Three lotteries will be conducted today, with the 1st Lottery Draw conducted first, then separate lotteries for the second and third overall picks happening afterward.

Any of the 15 options has a chance to win the first lottery, but the qualification teams can only win the chance to participate in a Phase 2 lottery once the play-ins are complete. If that happens, the eight teams that play and lose in the qualification series will have equal odds — each a 12.5% chance — of winning the first overall pick in that secondary event.

As for tonight, the odds for the 15 slots are the same as they’ve been for a few years. As the league’s worst team, the Detroit Red Wings have an 18.5% chance of claiming the first overall pick, then the odds drop for each club from that point. If any team from eighth- to 15th-worst wins the first lottery, all the placeholder clubs will be part of a second phase. Adding up all their individual percentages, that equals a 24.5% chance of the qualifaction-round losers being the ones in the running for the top pick.

This convoluted format prevents a team from knowing that a loss in the play-ins will grant them a top-three pick. Also, by running 15 slots in this opening phase, the possibility of simply using these results for the bottom 15 teams remains intact should the NHL’s plans for a post-season need to be abandoned. For that reason, it will be important to pay attention to the specific placeholder slot that wins a lottery (should such a thing occur), because that may end up being an actual team. Montreal Canadiens fans will want to pay particular attention to Team A’s fortunes, as that’s the slot coinciding with the club’s 24th overall rank in the NHL this season.

Odds of winning the 1st Lottery Draw

Team Odds
Team Odds
Detroit Red Wings 18.5%
Ottawa Senators 13.5%
Ottawa Senators (via SJS) 11.5%
Los Angeles Kings 9.5%
Anaheim Ducks 8.5%
New Jersey Devils 7.5%
Buffalo Sabres 6.5%
Team A 6.0%
Team B 5.0%
Team C 3.5%
Team D 3.0%
Team E 2.5%
Team F 2.0%
Team G 1.5%
Team H 1.0%

The odds determine how many of 1000 possible combinations of four balls from a 14-ball lottery machine a team wil be assigned. The team (or placeholder) that wins the first lottery will have its remaining numbers voided, resulting in a redraw if one of its combinations is chosen.

The actual process of the lotteries taking place will not be televised. Instead, once the positions have been determined in a private session, the selections will be revealed in reverse order.