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Will the Canucks retain their 1st round pick if the NHL Entry Draft occurs in June?

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NHL appears set to proceed with a virtual Draft on June 5th.

2019 NHL Lottery Draft
Bill Daly (left) poses with then New Jersey Devils’ General Manager Ray Shero at the NHL Draft Lottery on April 10th, 2019. The Devils won the Lottery and went on to pick Jack Hughes 1st overall in June 2019.
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly issued a position paper late yesterday laying out the merits of going ahead with the Entry Draft next month even though it is unknown yet whether or not the season will resume this summer.

Daly proposes that the Order of Selection be based upon the teams’ winning point percentages. Under the proposal the top 16 teams would be out of the Draft lottery while the bottom 15 teams would be in. This is the usual process of determination. However, it appears for the purposes of this exercise, the league would rate the teams 1-to-31 across both Conferences. Normally, the top 16 clubs’ draft positions are determined at least partially by playoff outcomes. The Stanley Cup Final winner picks 31st while the Stanley Cup Final loser picks 30th. The Conference Final losers pick 28th and 29th and so on. So it appears the ordering across Conferences is the solution given that the Draft would occur prior to the playoffs for the first time in NHL history.

This could makes things interesting for Canucks’ fans. If the NHL uses winning point percentages across both Conferences then the Canucks will be ranked 17th in the league and will be out of the playoffs for draft order purposes. Ironically, if the NHL eventually later uses winning point percentages at the pause to determine the final standings, the Canucks will finish 7th in the Western Conference in a playoff spot.

So is it possible that the Canucks could win both the Lottery and the Stanley Cup in the same season and finally unite their fan base?

Not so fast. Daly’s paper pours cold water on that possibility.

So if the Canucks do retain their selection the highest they could pick is 11th overall moving up four spots from their 15th overall position.

Another issue raised by Daly is what to do about the 15 NHL trades that 2020 conditional draft picks hinge on related to whether or not a club makes or does not make the playoffs?

In the Canucks case, this issue is about the J.T. Miller trade with Tampa Bay. The Lightning have since traded the first round conditional pick they acquired from the Canucks for Miller to New Jersey in their Blake Coleman trade deadline deal.

The solution proposed by Daly is that the clubs involved in these types of deals re-work the deals to both clubs’ satisfaction failing which they will have to accept the league’s proposed remedy to the transaction.

It is unclear at this time how the Miller trade could be reworked to the satisfaction of both clubs or failing that agreement what the imposed NHL solution might turn out to be. The Canucks historically tend not to fare well though when subject to league initiated remedies (e.g. Luongo cap recapture penalty).

In any event, it appears almost certain the NHL Entry Draft will take place on June 5th. The league and television networks want it to happen then even though the majority of general managers are opposed to it.

We should get more clarity and likely a firm league decision next week some time following the NHL Board of Governors’ telephone meeting on Monday. But the odds right now seem to be that the Canucks will retain their 2020 first round pick and will be slotted 15th in the Draft with a chance to move up to 11th overall and all before potentially competing for the Stanley Cup later this year should the NHL restart the season.