NEW YORK — An interesting twist has come to the NHL's return to play courtesy of the league's draft lottery that may have gifted two of the three New York hockey teams a chance to pick first.
The NHL's Draft Lottery featured lottery balls representing each of the first seven picks in the NHL Draft, held by teams that will not participate in the league's return to play post-season. There were also eight balls representing the teams that will lose in the play-in round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when play does resume.
One of the balls representing playoff teams "won" the first pick and now the lottery moves on to what the league is calling a "second phase." The teams that lose in the play-in round will all be part of that second phase and drawn later this summer to determine who gets the No. 1 overall pick. That means if, in theory, both the Rangers and Islanders lose their play-in series, each would have a 12.5% chance to pick first in the draft.
The Rangers face the Carolina Hurricanes in the play-in round, while the Islanders take on the Florida Panthers. The New Jersey Devils, as part of the first phase of the lottery, will pick 7th when the draft is eventually held.