Detroit — From the Red Wings’ perspective, Tuesday’s NHL news pretty much mirrored the Wings’ season — not great.
As expected, the NHL announced a Return to Play Plan that will see 24 teams — the top 12 in the two conferences based on winning percentage — return for four rounds of playoffs and the awarding of the Stanley Cup.
With that announcement, the Wings — with the NHL’s worst record — along with six other teams saw their regular season end and offseason begin.
The NHL paused March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With no season to come back to, general manager Steve Yzerman can now fully concentrate on the Entry Draft and the future of coach Jeff Blashill.
Of most importance Tuesday for the Wings, in terms of NHL news, were the details of the draft lottery to be held June 26.
And that also was mildly disappointing for the Wings.
There was rampant speculation earlier in the month about instituting a different lottery format, which for the Wings, would have given them an over 50% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick — and at worst getting the No. 2 overall selection.
But that plan was scrapped, along accelerating the draft to early June — although the lottery was modified slightly from its current format.
The Wings still have an 18.5% of winning the lottery, but Ottawa has a 25% given it has the second-worst record (13.5%) and San Jose’s pick (the Sharks had the third-worst record, and an 11.5% chance of winning the lottery).
The Wings have a 16.5% chance of drafting second and a 14.4% chance at drafting third.
The eight teams that lose in the in the first-round play-in round will also take part in the lottery. The NHL will use placeholders for those teams in the June 26 lottery, designating them as teams A-H.
Bettman said there will be three draws, as usual, on June 26 and if they’re won by teams that aren’t competing in the play-in round, there will not be a need for a second phase to the lottery.
But if at least one play-in team wins one of the draws June 26, there will be a second phase of the lottery between the play-in round and round two of the playoffs.
The top pick is expected to be forward Alexis Lafreniere, a prolific offensive player out of the Quebec major junior league.
Forwards Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle, and defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson, are the other projected top several picks.
After the Red Wings and Ottawa, Los Angeles (9.5%), Anaheim (8.5%), the New Jersey Devils (7.5%) and Buffalo (6.5%) are the lottery teams.
As for Blashill, the Wings have a team option to bring him back, which would be the second year on a two-year contract.
Yzerman has been supportive of Blashill’s work this season, despite the team’s 17-49-5 record.
But Yzerman could decide to bring in his own hired head coach — Blashill was hired by previous GM Ken Holland — especially with an accomplished list of head coaches available this offseason without jobs.
Former Yzerman teammates, Gerard Gallant and Lane Lambert, are two of the potential coaches who could intrigue Yzerman, although both could receive offers elsewhere
The Wings also have 12 restricted free agents to deal with this offseason, including forwards Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri.
Draft lottery odds
1. Detroit Red Wings: .275 points percentage, 18.5% chance
2. Ottawa Senators: .437, 13.5%
3. *Ottawa Senators: .437, 11.5%
4. Los Angeles Kings: .457, 9.5%
5. Anaheim Ducks: .472, 8.5%
6. **New Jersey Devils: .493, 7.5%
7. ** Buffalo Sabres: .493, 6.5%
8. Team A: 6.0%
9. Team B: 5.0%
10. Team C: 3.5%
11. Team D: 3.0%
12. Team E: 2.5%
13. Team F: 2.0%
14. Team G: 1.5%
15. Team H: 1.0%
►Note: Teams A-H to be determined after qualifying round of NHL playoffs.
►* Acquired in a trade with San Jose, which had .450 points percentage.
►** Buffalo ranked higher than New Jersey on the basis of higher regulation/OT win percentage.