By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
Alexis Lafreniere was supposed to walk on stage Friday night in Montreal as the top pick in the NHL draft.
After the COVID-19 pandemic paused the hockey season and postponed that possibility, Lafreniere was supposed to find out Friday night where he’d be going when the league held its draft lottery. Instead, he’ll have to wait a little bit longer.
Chaos reigned at the NHL draft lottery, with the No. 1 pick still up for grabs in a second lottery among the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round of the playoffs — if play resumes.
The New York Rangers could win the Stanley Cup and get the chance to take Lafreniere with either the Carolina Hurricanes’ or Toronto Maple Leafs’ pick. Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins or Connor McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers could get lucky again.
After the league-worst Detroit Red Wings dropped to fourth, the Los Angeles Kings got the second pick and the Ottawa Senators ended up with Nos. 3 and 5 because of the 2018 Erik Karlsson trade with San Jose, there are 16 teams still in the running for No. 1.
“It’s an interesting night,” Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake said.
As part of the NHL’s 24-team playoff format if it resumes, 16 teams will play each other in best-of-five series to move on — and the losers of those matchups now have a major consolation prize looming.
“Still not drafted, so we’ll still have to wait a little bit,” said Lafreniere, a star left winger for Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League who also was captain of Canada’s world junior championship gold medal-winning team.
There was a 24.5% chance of a play-in around team winning the top pick, just below Ottawa’s chances with its pick and San Jose’s. The Red Wings had an 18.5% chance.
Detroit finished 23 points behind 30th-place Ottawa and was the biggest loser of the night dropping out of the top three. The Sharks are in the same company after not being in contention this season and losing out on the chance to take center Quinton Byfield second.
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