The New York Rangers won Stage 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft lottery on Monday night, earning them the right to draft first overall in the upcoming draft. In a twist unique to this year, the league held the final lottery ball drawing on live television, giving fans the opportunity to tune in for some suspenseful entertainment as the pick was chosen.
New York had all the luck ... but they almost didn't.
A slowed down video of the lottery drawing was posted on social media Monday night and it appears to show just how tantalizingly close the Toronto Maple Leafs came to winning the lottery, only for their ball to rattle around the opening of the selection tube and falling back down into the chamber. Immediately thereafter, the Rangers' ball was sucked up through the tube of destiny.
That's a devastating break for Toronto, and one that could haunt it for a long time depending on how likely top pick Alexis Lafreniere's promising career pans out. To add insult to injury, the Leafs not only lost out on the top prospect, but they also lost their first-round pick altogether. After falling short in the lottery, the Leafs slotted into the 13th overall selection in the draft and were forced to surrender that pick to the Carolina Hurricanes as part of the Patrick Marleau trade last summer.
Lafreniere projects to be a highly skilled, dynamic offensive force at the NHL level, and he's expected to be ready to make an immediate impact for whatever team he goes to. Not only does he have exceptional hands, creativity and vision, he's also capable of making plays in the blue-collar areas as well.
Entering Monday night's lottery, eight teams had an equal 12.5 percent chance at winning the top pick. Those eight teams were the ones that were eliminated during the NHL's play-in stage that just concluded. The Leafs lost their best-of-five series against the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2, and the Rangers were swept in three games by the Hurricanes.
The ever-so-close lottery drawing is a rather painful but oddly fitting conclusion to Toronto's season. The Leafs generated plenty of golden opportunities in their series against Columbus but often lacked finish, shooting just 1.7 percent as a team over the course of the five games. Snakebitten in the playoffs and snakebitten in the lottery ... tough scene.