Detroit — The Red Wings' regular season is done and they can now prepare for the draft lottery.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday the league will return sometime after July to a 24-team playoff format — the top 12 teams from each of the Eastern and Western conferences playing in two hub cities that are yet to be determined.
Bettman set no exact dates for a return.
The NHL paused its season March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the 24-team format, there will be an opening-round, best-of-five play-in round, followed by three following rounds capped by the Stanley Cup Finals. The second round has yet to be determined whether it'll be a best-of-five or best-of-seven series, although the final two rounds will be best-of-seven.
The Wings had the NHL’s worst record — 17-49-5 — and were the lone NHL team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Detroit, Ottawa, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, New Jersey and Buffalo are the seven teams staying home under the 24-team playoff tournament.
With no regular season to resume, general manager Steve Yzerman can now officially prepare for the offseason and issues to tackle, with the future of coach Jeff Blashill chief among them.
As for the draft lottery, it will take place June 26, the date of the original Entry Draft was expected to take place.
To be sure, it's a complicated process.
The first, second, and third overall picks will be up for grabs on June 26 with the seven lottery teams and eight teams currently identified as Teams A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H (teams who are in the first round play-in).
The lottery odds are the same as prior years, with the Wings holding an 18.5% chance of landing the first pick. But Ottawa has a 25% chance overall holding their own (second-worst record) and San Jose's (third-worst record) picks.
Assigning teams to the letters will come in a Phase 2 lottery after the qualifying round but before the playoffs.
If the winner of the No. 1 pick comes from a team other than the seven draft lottery teams, the No. 1 pick will be awarded in the Phase 2 lottery.
Hub city candidates
Two hub cities will be selected from the following to host the NHL playoffs: