Why the 2020 NHL Draft lottery was so bizarre

A confusing, weird mess with PLENTY of conspiracy.

The NHL held the most delightfully weird and wonderful draft lottery on Monday night, which led to the New York Rangers getting the No. 1 overall pick, despite playing in the “playoffs” less than a week before.

People are confused, angry, and don’t understand what happened — all while Rangers fans are over the moon that they won the right to draft Alex Lafrenière, a generational player who could change the franchise overnight. Let’s break all this down.

What exactly took place on Monday night?

The NHL held Phase Two of its yearly draft lottery, live streaming the ping pong balls bouncing around and being selected by commissioner Gary Bettman as normal — but it was anything but standard. The initial draft lottery happened back in June in what was called “Phase 1,” which determined who would get the No. 1 pick, and with a 2.5 percent chance went to “Team E,” designated as one of the teams eliminated from the initial round of bubble play.

The final selection would be decided in “Phase 2,” a second lottery involving all eight teams eliminated in the first round of bubble play, with each team having a 12.5 percent chance at winning the No. 1 pick.

That ended up being the New York Rangers.

This effectively means that with “Team E” winning the first pick, then the Rangers becoming Team E, they won the draft with a 0.0031 percent chance.

This seems really unfair …

It is! Well, kind of. The reality is that theoretically the Rangers did jump up, but only a little. They were the 14th worst team in the league by final standings, which typically would have given them a 1.5 percent chance of winning the draft. They effectively got bumped one percent in Phase 1 — while Calgary, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, Phoenix, and Montreal all got screwed.

Even then, it’s tough to say they were really hard done by, because everyone had a 12.5 percent chance in Phase Two. This was all just weirdness of having more teams that normal participate in “post season” play.

Confused enough? Yeah, I know … this is all a bit of a mess.

Is getting No. 1 really that good?

Yes. Yes, it is. Truth be told, there’s not really a bad pick inside the Top 6 of this year’s draft, but there’s undoubtedly a major prize: Alex Lafrenière. The consensus No. 1 pick, Lafrenière has been compared to Sidney Crosby in terms of his ability on the ice, and he swept every MVP award known in the sport for a player his age.

As a 16-year-old rookie playing in the QMJHL, Lafrenière scored 42 goals, the most in the league since Crosby. He then followed that up by recording 112 points in 52 games — solidifying himself as the biggest prize in the hockey. Lafrenière already has a body built for the NHL, and it’s expected he’ll immediately play as a rookie, and make an impact.

The Rangers took considerably long odds, and turned it into getting a player hailed as a future cornerstone of hockey. All while still being good enough to qualify for the playoffs. This kind of coup has never been seen in the sport. No team has ever had a chance to play in the post season and still won the No. 1 pick, but here we are — and fans are rightfully elated.

Was this all a conspiracy?

Hell yeah it was! Well, it was if you ask hockey fans.

At this point we should expect any, and all draft lotteries to be rigged. Especially when a major market team like the Rangers get lucky. How couldn’t you give in to the romance and drama of the brightest young prospect playing in Madison Square Garden? It’s too good to pass up the opportunity to blame the league.

The purported “smoking gun” is how the ball handler from Ernst & Young fumbled with the Rangers’ draft lottery ball. Was this simply a case of butterfingers, or was the ball specifically weighted so it would find its way through the machine and ensure the Rangers got Lafrenière? I don’t have the answer, but you don’t need answers to start a good conspiracy. You just need to ask questions.

Lizard people control the world economy.

Should I be mad about all this?

That’s really a personal question. Your capacity to be angry about a draft lottery is directly proportional to the other concerns in your life. Considering we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, tenuous financial markets, questions over whether children can return to school safely, ongoing racial unrest caused by the incubation of white nationalism, and the fact we’re an election year, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Rangers winning the draft isn’t the biggest problem we’re facing as a country.

That said, being mad about sports is also a much-needed distraction — so screw the Rangers, this was all rigged, sports are unfair, and the world is flat with a dome over it placed by the New World Order.