On Tuesday, league commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the 2019-20 season would be ruled to be complete as of March 11, the last date of play prior to the season being indefinitely paused due to coronavirus concerns. The NHL’s plan to return to play will involve the top 12 teams from each conference being entered into a postseason tournament that will eventually become the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With a 29-33-9 record and 0.472, the Ducks sit 13th in the Western Conference, missing out on participating in the Qualifying Round, despite being one of just five teams in the conference to complete 71 games — though the benefit clear, earning the fifth-best probabilities for earning a top-five pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft lottery, as opposed to the 12th place Chicago Blackhawks, who may have only earned the honor of being eliminated in three games instead of four.
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray released the following statement about the season officially coming to an end:
“While we would have preferred to conclude our season normally and play 82 games, it became obvious over time that was not practical. We appreciate the NHL and NHLPA working together to award the Stanley Cup in these unique circumstances. We also want to thank our fans for their support and patience. We remain excited about our future and can’t wait for the 2020-21 season.”
It doesn’t reveal much about Murray’s thoughts, but that’s to be expected. The season pause put the Ducks in a tough spot: early concepts for returning to play might’ve included them for some sake of fairness — and in fairness, the state of the Pacific Division could’ve seen the Ducks accidentally backing themselves into a Wild Card position, even if mostly unlikely.
From all sides though, it’s better for the team to not participate in the postseason, and it’s not as though Murray can say that outright. It’s more reflective of the season they likely would’ve had, which is the goal of returning to play in the first place. It also allows for Ducks players to continue to self-isolate and prioritize their health in a lengthy off-season, as Bettman has opened up to the possibility of starting the 2020-21 season in January.
As for the front office, the next big date is the 2020 NHL Entry Draft lottery, which may be held in two “phases,” the first on Friday, June 26. Seven of the six teams who did not make the postseason — the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators (who own both their pick and the San Jose Sharks’), Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, in addition to the Ducks — along with placeholders for the eight remaining teams that will be eliminated in a “play-in” round will be entered into three separate draws for each of the top-three draft selections.
Here are the full draft odds:
2020 NHL Draft Lottery Odds
|1. Detroit Red Wings||0.275||18.50%|
|2. Ottawa Senators||0.437||13.50%|
|3. Ottawa Senators*||0.437||11.50%|
|4. Los Angeles Kings||0.457||9.50%|
|5. Anaheim Ducks||0.472||8.50%|
|6. New Jersey Devils||.493**||7.50%|
|7. Buffalo Sabres||.493**||6.50%|
|8. Team A||n/a||6.00%|
|9. Team B||n/a||5.00%|
|10. Team C||n/a||3.50%|
|11. Team D||n/a||3.00%|
|12. Team E||n/a||2.50%|
|13. Team F||n/a||2.00%|
|14. Team G||n/a||1.50%|
|15. Team H||n/a||1.00%|
* Acquired in a trade with San Jose Sharks (.450 points percentage)
** Buffalo Sabres ranked higher than New Jersey Devils on the basis of higher regulation/OT win percentage (Buffalo, .406 ROW%; New Jersey, .348 ROW%)
If the team selected in the draw is not a placeholder, they own that pick and will not be eligible for an additional lottery draw. If any of the draws result in a placeholder, then a second phase of the draft lottery will happen prior to the first round of playoffs (which will likely not come before August, based on the timetable laid out by Bettman yesterday). Only those eight teams are eligible for Phase 2 of the draft lottery and all of the teams will have the same odds while another draw is made for the pick(s) that have placeholders.
After all lottery picks have been assigned, and the play-in rounds have been completed, the remaining 12 teams that did not win a draw will be assigned picks in the inverse order of their points percentages at the time of the season’s pause.
The date of the NHL Draft is still to be determined.