The Coyotes have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Or: they have a chance to win the No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL Draft.
Silver cup, or silver lining.
The Coyotes will begin their Stanley Cup hunt against the Predators in the qualifying round of the 2020 NHL's 24-team return to play format. If they are eliminated in that play-in round, well, disappointing as that might be, that's the silver lining, that chance at the No. 1 pick.
Here is how that could happen:
The 2020 NHL draft lottery was split into two phases. The first phase was held Friday night. It determined the draft order for the seven teams that did not qualify for the 24-team return to play format.
DRAFT LOTTERY: PHASE 1 RESULTS
But, the eight teams that will inevitably be eliminated from the qualifying round were also left eligible for the top picks. The top three picks. They were designated "placeholder" teams -- and, the No. 1 pick was awarded to a lucky club from that group. So, if the Coyotes lose to the Predators in their best-of-five qualifying series, they will be designated one of those teams and could win the No. 1 pick.
To put it simply: If the Coyotes are eliminated in the qualifying round, they will transition into phase two of the lottery, with the seven other eliminated teams. Those eight clubs will have an equal 12.5 percent chance of drawing the No. 1 pick.
The Coyotes traded their 2020 first-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in December. That trade brought Taylor Hall to Arizona. However, President of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Chayka negotiated a condition on that pick before the trade was complete: the Coyotes would retain that selection if it turned into a top-three pick.
If the Coyotes don't earn the No. 1 selection, they will pick anywhere from 9-14 in the first round. That pick, in turn, would be handed over to the Devils.
Though Chayka's bargaining tactics gave the Coyotes a chance at that No. 1 pick, he is not thinking about the possibility. "I'm looking to win a Cup," he said. "The first pick is not even on my radar."
Hall was the first overall pick in 2010 and again finds himself in the thick of draft lottery talk. Five of his teams since then have selected first overall.
Forward Alexis Lafreniere is expected to be selected No. 1 overall. Lafreniere, 18, had 112 points in 52 games with Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL this season.
He also finished second in scoring (4+6=10) for Team Canada in January en route to a gold medal at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament. He played alongside Coyotes rookie Barrett Hayton, who led the Canadians in scoring (6+6=12).
Phase two of the lottery will be held after the qualifying rounds are complete. The date is still undetermined.
Photo Credit [All]: Bruce Bennett - NHLI via Getty Images