The Ottawa Senators feel like winners despite not landing the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the NHL Draft Lottery on Friday, general manager Pierre Dorion said.
The Senators had the second- and third-best odds to win the No. 1 choice (13.5 percent from their own pick, 11.5 percent from a pick acquired in the trade of defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 13, 2018), but they ended up with the Nos. 3 and 5 picks.
"For us, as the Ottawa Senators, we're very happy to have two picks in the top five," Dorion said. "I think that's only happened four times in the past 40 years. I think it bodes very well in a deep draft at the top of the draft.
"We're excited, and I think our fans should be too."
[RELATED: No. 1 pick to be decided by second drawing]
The last time a team had two top-five picks was the 2000 NHL Draft, when the New York Islanders selected goalie Rick DiPietro No. 1 and forward Raffi Torres No. 5. In the 1999 NHL Draft, the Vancouver Canucks took forwards Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin with the Nos. 2 and 3 picks. In the 1997 NHL Draft, the Islanders chose goalie Roberto Luongo No. 4 and defenseman Eric Brewer No. 5. In the 1988 NHL Draft, the Quebec Nordiques got defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn with the No. 3 pick and forward Daniel Dore with the No. 5 pick.
"As far as picking 3 (and) 5 ... we're going to draft two players that we know are going to be impactful players for the Senators for many years to come," Dorion said. "So we're really excited about having those players join our organization when the draft comes.
"We've done our work. We're still going to do our work for the next three months. And with our scouts … we know we're going to take two really good hockey players."
Not winning the draft lottery means Ottawa likely won't have a chance to select Alexis Lafreniere, a left wing from Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League who most believe will be taken with the first pick.
The No. 1 pick will be determined by the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery after the results of the First Phase. The team will be one of the eight that are eliminated from the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and will be determined by a second drawing to be held before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with each having a 12.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick.
Dorion said he had no issues with the way things played out.
"As far as a mystery team (picking No. 1), the Ottawa Senators have totally understood the process," he said. "... Obviously, that team will have lost in the play-in round, so they won't officially be in the playoffs. It makes total sense for us that one of those teams will be picking No. 1."
Video: Mystery team wins NHL Draft Lottery
Among the possibilities for the Senators with one of their two top-five picks is a prospect who played junior nearby.
Center Marco Rossi, No. 4 in NHL.com's rankings of the top prospects, scored 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) for Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League this season, the most of any player in the Canadian Hockey League. The 18-year-old can become the highest-selected Austria-born player in NHL history, ahead of Thomas Vanek, chosen by the Buffalo Sabres at No. 5 in the 2003 NHL Draft.
Dorion, not wanting to tip his hand, was coy when asked about any scouting advantage there might be with a prospect who played in Ottawa.
"Yes, the (Ottawa 67's) and the Gatineau Olympiques (of the QMJHL) are teams that I've scouted a lot," Dorion said. "But our scouts have seen every team on multiple occasions.
"Wherever a player plays doesn't matter to the Ottawa Senators. We just want to take the best available player."
In addition to Lafreniere and Rossi, NHL.com's top five prospects include left wing Tim Stuetzle (seven goals, 27 assists for Mannheim of Deutsche Eishockey Liga), center Quinton Byfield (32 goals, 50 assists for Sudbury of the OHL) and defenseman Jamie Drysdale (nine goals, 38 assists for Erie of the OHL).
The Los Angeles Kings, who had the fourth-best odds of winning the No. 1 pick (9.5 percent) moved up to the No. 2 pick. The Detroit Red Wings, who had the best odds (18.5 percent), fell to No. 4.
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