Facts and Figures: Rangers have rare No. 1 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

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The 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually this year, with the first round set for Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA), and Rounds 2-7 scheduled for Wednesday (11:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN1).

It’s the first time since 1994 that the draft will be held on days other than Friday, Saturday or Sunday; the 1994 NHL Draft was held at the Hartford Civic Center on June 28-29 (Tuesday-Wednesday). However, non-weekend drafts used to be a regular occurrence; all drafts from 1963-83 were held on days outside the Friday-Sunday window.

The New York Rangers will have the first pick after winning Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery on Aug. 10. This will be the first time since the universal draft (all juniors of qualifying age eligible for selection) was adopted in 1969 that the Rangers will have the No. 1 pick. The only time they’ve picked No. 1 was the 1965 NHL Draft, when they selected Andre Veilleux, a forward who never played professionally.

It’s the second straight year the Rangers have had a top-two pick; they selected forward Kaapo Kakko with the No. 2 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft. The only other time in the past 50 years the Rangers have picked in the top five was the 1999 NHL Draft, when they chose forward Pavel Brendl at No. 4.

Senators have two top-five choices: The Ottawa Senators, who finished 30th in the NHL standings with a .437 points percentage (25-34-12), enter the draft with three picks in the first round, including two in the top five (No. 3, No. 5, No. 28). It’s the eighth time since the universal draft was adopted that a team will select twice in the top five, but the first since the 2000 NHL Draft, when the New York Islanders took goalie Rick DiPietro with the No. 1 pick and forward Raffi Torres at No. 5. One year earlier, the Vancouver Canucks landed forwards Henrik Sedin with the No. 2 choice and twin brother Daniel at No. 3.

The Senators lead all teams with 12 choices, including seven in the first two rounds, after trading a fourth-round pick to the Florida Panthers on Friday for defenseman Josh Brown. The most picks by any team through two rounds of any NHL Draft is seven, by the Colorado Avalanche in 1998 (seven of 58 total selections through two rounds) and the Montreal Canadiens in 1974 (seven of 36). Since the NHL Draft went to seven rounds in 2005, no team has made more than 13 selections. The last to do so was the Panthers in the 2010 NHL Draft, when they had three of their 13 picks in the first round.

Rounding out top 10: The Los Angeles Kings will pick second in the 2020 draft, one year after selecting forward Alex Turcotte with the No. 5 pick. This is the first time they’ve had top-10 picks in consecutive years since selecting defensemen Thomas Hickey in 2007 (No. 4) and Drew Doughty in 2008 (No. 2), then forward Brayden Schenn in 2009 (No. 5).

The Detroit Red Wings, who finished 31st in the overall standings this season with a .275 points percentage (17-49-5), will have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year after going 25 years without one. They’ll pick No. 4, their highest slot since choosing center Keith Primeau with the No. 3 pick in the 1990 NHL Draft.   

The Anaheim Ducks have the sixth pick, their highest selection since taking defenseman Hampus Lindholm No. 6 in the 2012 NHL Draft. Before that, their highest pick was forward Bobby Ryan, who was taken No. 2 in the 2005 NHL Draft.

After winning the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery and selecting center Jack Hughes with the No. 1 pick, the New Jersey Devils will select No. 7 this year. It’s the fourth time in six years that the Devils will have a top-10 pick after having just one such choice during an 18-year span from 1997-2014; they took defenseman Adam Larsson at No. 4 in the 2011 NHL Draft.

The Buffalo Sabres are scheduled to pick No. 8, which would be their eighth straight year with a top-10 pick. Four teams have selected in the top 10 of at least eight consecutive drafts: the Canadiens (13; 1963-75), Toronto Maple Leafs (10; 1981-90), Columbus Blue Jackets (nine; 2000-08) and Edmonton Oilers (eight; 2009-16).

At No. 9, the Minnesota Wild will be picking in the top 10 for the first time since the 2012 draft, when they selected defenseman Matt Dumba No. 7. 

The Winnipeg Jets own the No.10 pick; it’s the fifth time they’ll pick in the top 10 since the franchise relocated from Atlanta for the 2011-12 season. Each of the first four have made an impact with the Jets: Center Mark Scheifele (No. 7 in 2011) leads them with 179 goals since the 2013-14 season; defenseman Jacob Trouba (No. 9 in 2012) played 408 regular-season games with the Jets before being traded to the New York Rangers on June 17, 2019; forward Nikolaj Ehlers (No. 9 in 2014) is fourth on the Jets with 115 goals since 2015-16; and forward Patrik Laine (No. 2 in 2016) is tied for seventh in the NHL with 138 goals since entering the NHL in 2016-17. 

Lafreniere heads top prospects: Alexis Lafreniere, a left wing with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is No. 1 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking after scoring 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games. If the Rangers take him with the first pick, he will be the 41st No. 1 selection born in Canada, but the first since the 2015 NHL Draft, when the Oilers selected center Connor McDavid. The four consecutive drafts without a Canadian player selected with the No. 1 pick is the longest such stretch since the draft began in 1963.

Overall, 40 of the 57 players taken No. 1 have been born in Canada. The United States (eight) is second, with Russia third (three). Sweden and the Czech Republic have each had two players taken No. 1; Switzerland and Great Britain have had one apiece.

Lafreniere would be the first Quebec-born player selected No. 1 overall since the 2003 NHL Draft, when the Pittsburgh Penguins chose goalie Marc Andre Fleury. He would be the first skater born in Quebec to be taken No. 1 since the Tampa Bay Lightning selected center Vincent Lecavalier in the 1998 NHL Draft, as well as be the third Rimouski player taken with the first selection, joining Lecavalier and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (2005).  

Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class

 

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