NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league's official return-to-play plan on Tuesday afternoon, making the NHL the first of the four major North American sports leagues to officially declare its plans to play following the coronavirus shutdown. Bettman officially closed the book on the 2019-2020 regular season and outlined the 24-team playoff format that was approved by the NHLPA over the weekend. The league is hoping to begin the postseason in late July.
As part of that return-to-play announcement, the commissioner also detailed plans for this year's NHL Draft Lottery, which will be held on June 26th. Since the lottery will be held prior to the league's restart, the league has come up with a unique (and complicated) two-phase format to determine this year's lottery order. Here's how it breaks down:
The seven teams that will not qualify for the 24-team playoff will automatically be entered into the lottery
The eight teams that fail to advance out of the postseason play-in round receive the final eight draft lottery spots
During Phase 1 of the Draft Lottery on June 26th, the league will draw the first three selections of the 2020 NHL Draft, using placeholders for the eight teams still in competition