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Red Wings get No. 4 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

Will have fourth selection in the Draft for third time in franchise history, first time since 1983

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

The odds might not have been in the Detroit Red Wings' favor when it came to getting the top overall draft pick but that doesn't mean whoever their pick is won't make an impact.

On the night everyone in the NHL was supposed to be at Montreal's Bell Centre for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, people around the league were instead mostly at home watching the NHL Draft Lottery take place on television.

The Wings (17-49-5, 39 points) went into the night with an 18.5 percent chance at winning the No. 1 pick and a 50.6 percent chance of getting the No. 4 pick.

 

[Check out complete coverage of the 2020 NHL Draft with Red Wings Draft Central

 

The higher odds won out as the Wings' card was flipped in the fourth slot.

"To be honest with you, I'm not surprised," Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman said on a post-lottery Zoom call. "We had an 18.5 percent chance of winning the first pick, so realistically I'm prepared to be sitting here today not talking about the first pick. I'm not really surprised, the odds … the bottom eight, or the eight playoff teams had a 24.5 percent chance combined of getting the top pick. So the odds were better that the first pick went to the bottom eight than to us."

The rescheduled date for the 2020 draft has not been decided yet.

It will be the highest draft pick that Detroit has had since taking Keith Primeau third overall in 1990.

Video: Steve Yzerman discusses 2020 Draft Lottery with media

Although not getting the top pick might be disappointing, the last time the Wings had the fourth overall pick, they selected a guy named Yzerman in 1983.

That worked out pretty well.

"It's a long time ago. It doesn't resonate with me anymore," Yzerman said. "I was picked fourth overall. I had no idea going into the draft what my NHL career was going to be like. I had no expectations for myself. Things worked out. Whether you're picking first, second, third … picking first gives you the best odds maybe of getting a player but at end of the day you look at the history of the draft and you're going to see great players come from all different spots in the draft. The higher you pick, the more you increase your odds."

More recently, the Colorado Avalanche took Calder Trophy candidate Cale Makar fourth in 2017, the Senators picked Brady Tkachuk fourth in 2018 and the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Mitch Marner fourth in 2015.

"Ultimately let's see in a few years, see how this draft shakes out and who becomes a good player," Yzerman said. "We're going to get a great prospect. How good of a player he becomes? Time will tell. We can sit here today and feel sorry for ourselves if you want. It doesn't matter. The system is what it is. It's the same for all the teams. We're going to get a great prospect. We're going to do everything we can to develop him and maybe we will get lucky."

 

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As this odd year would have it, a team from the qualifying round won the No. 1 pick.

That team will be determined between the qualifying round and the first round of the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Kings will pick second, the Ottawa Senators third, the Wings fourth, the Senators again fifth, the Anaheim Ducks sixth, the New Jersey Devils seventh and the Buffalo Sabres eighth.

The Ottawa Senators (25-34-12, 62 points) had their own pick, with a 13.5 percent chance and the pick of the San Jose Sharks (29-36-5, 63 points), with an 11.5 percent chance. The Senators got the Sharks' pick in the Erik Karlsson trade. The Los Angeles Kings (29-35-6, 54 points) had a 9.5 percent chance.

The experts have all agreed that Alexis Lafrenière of the QMJHL's Rimouski Océanic is the best player among the prospects eligible for this draft.

Forward Tim Stützle of Adler Mannheim in the DEL, center Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL and defenseman Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters of the OHL are among the other top prospects expected to go very high in the draft.

While all of the prospects had their seasons canceled, some of them might end up starting next season before the draft takes place, which could affect teams' evaluations.

"These kids may play more hockey in September, maybe late August, the European leagues start earlier, August, September," Yzerman said. "If they're playing, we're probably going to go watch them. It will have some influence on our decisions, good or bad. There's work to be done. Now that we know where we're picking, obviously we can really focus on the kids in that spot. I know our guys, myself, we've watched a lot of video on them. We're going to go back now and we'll watch even more. That's all we can do right now.

"Kris Draper (director of amateur scouting) and his staff have interviewed a lot of the kids in this type of format and have spent a lot of time with them and a lot of time with the people around them, getting to know them from different perspectives. There's still work to be done and like I said, I think if there's more hockey to be played, which it looks like there will be prior to the draft, we will watch it."

The Wings have three second-round picks and two third-round picks, so the focus is not just on the fourth overall pick.

"You need some of those picks to turn into players," Yzerman said. "If it's just going to be we're going to draft and count on our first-round pick playing every year, it's going to take forever to build a good team. We're going to need players to come in the second and third round, later rounds year to year. You're not going to hit on every pick every year obviously, you're not going to hit on your first pick every year as much work as we do on it. It's imperative, that speeds the process up.

"You look at our team with Tyler Bertuzzi, a second-round pick, Filip Hronek, a second-round pick, guys that are really having an impact. We'll definitely need those guys to turn into players and that's why having more picks increases the odds of more of them becoming players."

Getting the first pick and Lafrenière might have sped up the rebuild but the fourth pick plus the players taken in other rounds will likely be some of the main building blocks of the next playoff-contending Wings team.

"Colorado lost the lottery a couple years ago and ended up with the fourth spot and ended up with Cale Makar, who is a player that definitely moves the needle," Yzerman said. "Time will tell. We're excited about the prospect we're going to get.

"We'll get our lucky breaks along the way and maybe this will be one of them."

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