Clearing the NHL Draft Lottery confusion on the Rangers pick acquired from Carolina

”It was my understanding, that there would be no math.”

Your fearless (and confused) leader Anthony here and those words uttered by Chevy Chase portraying Gerald Ford in a Presidential Debate on a SNL skit are perfect. Yesterday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman held a major press conference to announce the 24 Team Return to Play Format. He also added updates on the Draft Lottery which left almost everyone scratching their heads.

What’s Going On?

The Rangers hold their own first round pick, but acquired another in the trade of Brady Skjei to Carolina. Now Carolina also has two picks, theirs and one from Toronto. They will keep the better of the two picks and send the other to the Rangers.

Gary Bettman stated the Draft Lottery will take place on June 26th, and will not just be for the 7 teams left out of the Return to Play format. However the other 8 teams involved in the lottery are at this time labeled Teams A thru H. If one of those teams wins the lottery, there will be a phase 2 lottery. Yes, we are all confused.

The Trades

June 22, 2019: Toronto trades a conditional 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 seventh-round pick and center Patrick Marleau to Carolina for a 2020 sixth-round pick. If the Leafs’ pick is in the top 10 in 2020, the Canes receive Toronto’s 2021 first-round selection.

Feb. 24, 2020: The New York Rangers trade defenseman Brady Skjei to Carolina for a conditional 2020 first-round pick. The condition is that the Rangers will receive the lower (lesser) of the Canes’ two first-round choices, with the other being the aforementioned top-10 protected pick from Toronto.

Steve Kournianos (aka: The Draft Analyst) is here to break all the scenarios down for you. So Let’s begin as there are six, I repeat, SIX scenarios to cover.

Scenario 1: Carolina and Toronto both lose in play-in round and both win lottery

Outcome: Toronto keeps their 2020 first-round pick no matter if it’s first, second, or third overall; Carolina’s own 2020 first-round pick automatically goes to the Rangers no matter if it’s first, second, or third overall.

Why: The Canes lose control of the condition they made with the Rangers in the Skjei trade once that pick goes to the Maple Leafs. Thus, Carolina’s own pick automatically becomes unprotected once they lose the conditions from the Marleau deal with the Leafs. Some feel that Carolina keeps their own pick in the event Toronto gets into the top 10, but that would mean their 2021 first-round pick (or some other conditional pick) would go to the Rangers – a condition that was never mentioned in any official press release.

Scenario 2: Carolina loses play-in and Toronto wins play-in — Carolina wins lottery

Outcome: Carolina keeps their own lottery pick and the Rangers get the Toronto 2020 first-round pick, which will be between picks 16 to 31.

Why: Carolina will always keep their own pick as long as the Maple Leafs don’t receive a top-10 pick and it’s higher/better than where Toronto’s pick ends up. In this scenario, Toronto finishes higher in the standings to release the conditions from the Marleau trade and give it to Carolina outright. The Canes then keep the better pick (their own) and give the Rangers the lesser (Toronto’s).

Martinook hit (Getty Images)

Scenario 3: Carolina and Toronto both lose play-in and lose lottery

Outcome: Toronto’s 2020 first-round pick goes to Carolina and the Rangers get the Canes’ 2020 first rounder.

Why: As long as the Maple Leafs don’t end up with a top-10 pick, this scenario is almost the same as above, only Carolina finishes with the better points percentage and Toronto doesn’t make the top 10. Keep in mind that there is no mathematical chance for the Maple Leafs to lose both the play-in round and the lottery and still get a top-10 pick. This is based on Toronto owning a better points percentage than seven of the Western Conferences eight play-in teams coupled with the fact that a maximum of three play-in teams can leapfrog into the top-three lottery. Thus, outside of a lottery win, at least 10 teams will always finish ahead of the Maple Leafs in the points-percentage standings.

Scenario 4: Carolina wins play-in and Toronto loses play-in and doesn’t win lottery

Outcome:  Carolina acquires Toronto’s 2020 first-round pick and the Rangers acquire Carolina’s 2020 first-round pick.

Why: Toronto’s pick becomes the higher/better of the two and is outside the top 10, so it slides to Carolina somewhere between 11th and 15th overall. The Rangers get the lower/lesser pick from Carolina which will be between 16th and 31st overall.

Scenario 5: Carolina and Toronto both win respective play-in series and do not participate in the lottery.

Outcome:  Carolina acquires Toronto’s 2020 first-round pick and the Rangers receive the 2020 first-round pick from whichever team advances the farthest in the playoffs. Both picks will be between 16th and 31st overall.

Why: The Maple Leafs disqualifying from receiving a top-10 pick automatically transfers their 2020 first-round pick to the Canes, who will keep the higher/better pick and send the lower/lesser pick to the Rangers. 

Scenario 6: Carolina wins play-in and Toronto loses play-in and wins lottery

Outcome: Toronto keeps it 2020 pick between 1st and 3rd overall and Carolina gets the Leafs’ 2021 first-round pick. Rangers receive Canes’ 2020 first-round pick between 16th and 31st overall.

Why: Similar situation to Scenario 1 in that the second the Leafs earn a top-10 pick — which can be top-3 at best — Carolina walks away with no first rounders in 2020. 

Editor’s Note: Did you get that? If so, print out your award below and write your name in! Share with your friends and educate them too. More classes to come…I think?

Steve Kournianos covers the NHL Draft for Sporting News and is the founder of, a blog dedicated to... More about Steve Kournianos

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