The No. 1 pick and, presumably, Rimouski forward Alexis Lafreniere are headed to the New York Rangers.
It is quite the consolation prize after losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round.
New York was awarded the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft on Monday during the NHL draft lottery. of NBC Sports explained Phase 1 of the draft lottery already happened in June, when it was determined the No. 1 spot would go to a team involved in the league’s restart plan after the season was suspended for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The eight teams that were eliminated in the qualifiers-the Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Rangers-each had a 12.5 percent chance of landing the coveted top pick.
Here is a look at the first 15 picks since the final 16 will be determined by the playoff results. Picks Nos. 9-15 were decided by reverse order of regular-season points percentages for those teams that lost in the qualifiers and did not land the No. 1 pick.
1. New York Rangers
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks)
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Ottawa Senators
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Minnesota Wild
10. Winnipeg Jets
11. Nashville Predators
12. Florida Panthers
13. Carolina Hurricanes (via Toronto Maple Leafs)
14. Edmonton Oilers
15. Pittsburgh Penguins or Minnesota Wild
That the top pick went to a team talented enough to qualify for the league’s restart plan during a live drawing did not go unnoticed on social media:
The question now is whether the 18-year-old Lafreniere will live up to sky-high expectations as someone who could make an immediate impact with his scoring prowess, vision to find open teammates on the break or special teams and ability to contribute defensively even as a winger.
He used that skill to tally 112 points on 35 goals and 77 assists in 52 games in 2019-20 for Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after posting 105 points on 37 goals and 68 assists in 61 games the previous season.
That he could now have the chance to play alongside Artemi Panarin is a frightening proposition for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
New York will have the opportunity to find out if Lafreniere can replicate that head-turning production at the NHL level if it selects him during the draft that is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10.