Alexis Lafreniere was supposed to walk on stage Friday night in Montreal as the top pick in the NHL draft.
After the COVID-19 pandemic paused the hockey season and postponed that possibility, Lafreniere was supposed to find out Friday night where he'd be going when the league held its draft lottery. Instead, he'll have to wait a little bit longer.
Chaos reigned at the NHL draft lottery, with the No. 1 pick still up for grabs in a second lottery drawing among the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round of the playoffs — if play resumes.
"We all knew this could happen," Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. “It definitely has been a different 2020 compared to every other year that I’ve been on the face of this earth.”
As part of the NHL’s 24-team playoff format if it resumes, 16 teams will play each other in best-of-five series to move on — and the losers of those matchups now have a major consolation prize looming: equal 12.5% odds of landing Lafreniere.
“Still not drafted, so we’ll still have to wait a little bit,” said Lafreniere, a star left winger for Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League who also was captain of Canada’s world junior championship gold medal-winning team.
The league's bottom seven teams that had their seasons ended when play was paused March 12 will be off for nine months or more if the start of 2020-21 is delayed until December or January. They also won't be able to pencil Lafreniere into their lineup of the future.
Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins or Connor McDavid's Edmonton Oilers could get lucky again or Taylor Hall could bring his lottery luck to a third franchise.