Red Wings dealt fourth pick in NHL Draft, mystery team wins No. 1 selection

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings didn’t win much during this past regular season and added one more loss Friday.

The team failed to win Friday’s NHL Draft Lottery, and will wind up picking fourth whenever the actual NHL Entry Draft will be held (probably in October).

But let the conspiracy theories begin, as a team who will be playing in the qualifying round in July/August will be picking first overall.

Despite a 2.5% of being drawn, the placeholder team from the qualifying round won the lottery, beating the odds for sure.

Alexis Lafreniere is the front-runner to be selected No. 1 in the NHL Entry Draft.

Only the eight teams who will lose in the qualifying round will be in the next Phase 2 of the draft, getting the opportunity to pick No. 1 overall. 

So, a team such as Pittsburgh, Toronto, Edmonton, Chicago, a team of that pedigree, could be landing forward Alexis Lafreniere, the expected No. 1 overall pick. 

Phase 2 of this draft, determining the top pick, will be held after the qualifying round and before the first round. All eight teams will have a 12.5% of picking first overall.

Los Angeles will pick second overall.

As for the Wings, it was generally a disappointing evening, and one more gut-punch to a brutal season.

"We had an 18.5% chance of winning the first pick, so realistically I'm prepared to not be sitting here talking about the first pick," general manager Steve Yzerman said. "So I'm not real surprised. The bottom eight teams had a 24.5% of getting that pick. Odds were better that the first pick went to bottom eight (teams) than it did to us."

Yzerman didn't criticize the NHL for its draft format this season.

"They got to do what they got to do," Yzerman said. "Anything I say will be self-serving. They got to do what they got to do."

Because of the pandemic concluding the regular season before it was over, and a new playoff format being put in place, the NHL tweaked the draft lottery, as well.

The Wings had the worst record in the NHL and the best individual odds (18.5%) of landing the top pick but they had a slightly over 50% chance of picking fourth and that's exactly where they wound up.

Still, in what's generally considered to be a deep draft, there is reason to believe the Wings will get an impact player at No. 4.

"We feel we're going to get a real good prospect," Yzerman said. "Knowing we have the fourth pick, there's going to be great options for us and we'll be very excited about the prospect we get and tremendous potential he has to be a good NHL player.

"Maybe it seems that way today (disappointment about not picking first) but let's see in a few years and see how the draft shakes out and who becomes a good player. We're going to get a great prospect and how good a player he becomes, time will tell."

Ottawa had the best overall odds, given the Senators had the second-worst record (14.5%) and owned San Jose’s draft pick. The Sharks had the third-worst record, and 11.5% odds of picking first -- but Ottawa would up with the third and fifth picks, also a disappointing evening for the Senators.

The Wings aren’t going to get Lafreniere, but there are a bundle of high-end prospects in that next batch of players under Lafreniere.

Forwards Quinton Byfield, Tim Stutzle and Cole Perfetti (Saginaw/OHL), defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson (U.S. National Team Development Program), and goalie Yaroslav Askarov are all highly regarded potential picks the Wings will consider.

"There are several good options," Yzerman said. "I don't want to give a specific number but there's a lot of different ways we could go depending on what happens before us.

"We're going to take who we feel is going to be the best prospect with the fourth pick. We're not going to target a position right now. We're not in a position (to target a position)."

More: OctoPulse podcast: Ted Kulfan's reaction after Red Wings fall to fourth in draft lottery

Ironically, the last time the Wings chose fourth overall in the draft, they selected Yzerman in 1983.

"It's long time ago," Yzerman said. "I was picked fourth overall and I had no idea going into the draft what my NHL career was going to be like. I had no expectations for myself and things worked out.

"Whether you're picking first, second, or third, at the end of the day if you look at the history of the NHL draft, you see great players come from all different spots."

After Ottawa at No. 5, Anaheim will draft sixth, New Jersey seventh and Buffalo eighth.

Twitter: @tkulfan