The New York Rangers won the second phase of the NHL draft lottery, giving them a shot at selecting winger Alexis Lafreniere.
The Rangers were among eight teams that lost in the qualifying round of the playoffs with a chance to claim quite a consolation prize Monday night. The Rangers have the No. 1 overall pick for the first time since 1965 when they selected Andre Veilleux.
The league was forced to make a lot of changes after the COVID-19 pandemic paused the season and the lottery was turned into a two-phase process.
The league’s bottom seven teams had their seasons concluded March 12. Those teams also ended up not winning the lottery in June. The Los Angeles Kings landed the No. 2 pick overall.
The winning placeholder team, which became the Rangers, got the top pick despite a 12.5 percent chance.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the process was fair because the eight teams that were in the expanded playoffs would have had a chance to win the lottery if the pandemic didn’t alter the season.
Ottawa ended up with the third selection overall as part of the 2018 Erik Karlsson trade with San Jose along with the fifth pick overall. The league-worst Detroit Red Wings dropped to No. 4 in the first phase of the lottery.
The final 16 spots in the draft will be tied to postseason results.
While the Rangers would rather still be skating in the playoffs, they will have the rights to draft a player for a short- and long-term gain.
The sturdy, 6-foot-1 Lafreniere had 114 goals and 297 points in 173 games in the Quebec Major Junior League. The 18-year-old winger also captained Canada’s gold medal-winning team and earned MVP honors at the world junior championships earlier this year.