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Maple Leafs focused on Stanley Cup, not chance at No. 1 pick

Toronto hasn't won playoff series since 2004, will play Blue Jackets in Qualifiers

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Toronto Maple Leafs have their sights set on winning the Stanley Cup, not the NHL Draft Lottery, general manager Kyle Dubas said Sunday.

"Our whole focus is on doing everything we can to get our team ready to try to win 19 games," Dubas said. "That's our goal here, and that's the process we're about to embark on, and that's what we're looking forward to."

The Maple Leafs went 36-25-9 (.579 points percentage) in the regular season and will enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will play the No. 9 seed, the Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15, .579), in one of eight best-of-5 series that will begin at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Aug. 2.

 

[RELATED: Maple Leafs training camp previewStanley Cup Qualifiers schedule]

 

The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the loser will have a 12.5 percent chance, equal to the other seven eliminated teams, to win the No. 1 pick in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, which will take place on Aug. 10.

Toronto hasn't won a playoff series since 2004 and has been eliminated in the first round in each of the past three seasons, including in seven games to the Boston Bruins in each of the past two.

"To me, the probability of losing and then winning the pick is still so low, relatively speaking, and it's so far away from what our where our franchise is at, what we're looking to do," Dubas said. "We don't really look at it that way.

"I guess I suppose it would help to quell some of the disappointment for the teams that that don't win in the qualifying round, but I think for all but one of those teams … if you don't win that lottery, you're going to be awfully disappointed again that you fell well short of your goal."

The Maple Leafs had traded a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 draft to the Carolina Hurricanes along with forward Patrick Marleau on June 22, 2019, but if the selection is a top-10 pick, the Hurricanes will instead receive the Maple Leafs' first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

"I hope to never have any discussions about the lottery with anybody again," Dubas told reporters on May 27. "Not to say that it would be a horrible scenario to win the lottery or anything like that, but I tend to focus more on the optimistic view, which is getting our team ready to be able to have success."

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