The Leafs can apparently still end up in the draft lottery

A major point of confusion around the NHL’s plans for a 24-team summer tournament is how the draft order will be determined.

Since the league is expanding the field to 24 teams with 16 teams squaring off in a play-in round, it obviously wouldn’t be fair to determine the draft order based on the standings at the time the league was paused in March. In that instance, you could have a team like Montreal moving on to the playoffs while simultaneously ending up with a top pick.

Apparently, the solution to this issue is putting the losers of the play-in round into the draft lottery along with the seven non-playoff teams.

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Though it isn’t fully clear, I would imagine that they’ll determine lottery odds based on the regular-season points percentage of the eight teams eliminated, and the seven non-playoff teams will have the highest odds.

This could have major ramifications for the Leafs. If they lose to Columbus in the play-in round, they would be put into the draft lottery, albeit, with low odds of getting a high pick. But if Toronto does get their name drawn, they wouldn’t have to give Carolina their first-round pick this year.

When they traded that pick in order to offload Patrick Marleau’s contract, the Leafs made it Top-10 protected. In the event that Toronto moves up to first, second, or third overall, they would then keep their pick and give Carolina their first-round pick in 2021 instead.

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So maybe losing in the first round wouldn’t be quite so bad this time.