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Montreal Canadiens Now Given Best Odds to Win NHL Draft Lottery’s 1st Overall Pick

Montreal's Bell Centre
Montreal's Bell Centre was originally slated to play host to the 2020 NHL entry draft prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but the city could be getting a consolation prize. The Canadiens are the +1000 favorites to win the NHL Draft Lottery. Photo by: Wikimedia Commons.
  • The Montreal Canadiens are listed as +1000 favorites to win the second phase of the NHL Draft Lottery
  • Are the Habs the best bet to lose in the qualifying round of the playoffs and drop into the lottery? 
  • Analysis of the odds and predictions regarding the outcome follow

The 2020 NHL entry draft was slated to be held at the Bell Centre, home to the Montreal Canadiens. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic’s prohibition on large, public gatherings, that won’t be happening.

Might the hockey gods be arranging a sweet consolation prize for the Habs?

The initial phase of the NHL draft lottery saw the first overall pick go to what the NHL called a placeholder team. That will be one of the eight teams that lose in the best-of-five qualifying round of the 24-team playoff for the Stanley Cup.

The oddsmakers believe that team will be the Canadiens. Montreal is established as the +1000 chalk to win the draft lottery and be awarded the first overall pick.

Odds to Win #1 Overall Pick in NHL Draft Lottery

Team Odds
Montreal Canadiens +1000
Columbus Blue Jackets +1100
Chicago Blackhawks +1150
Arizona Coyotes +1250
Minnesota Wild +1250
New York Rangers +1250
Florida Panthers +1300
Winnipeg Jets +1350
Calgary Flames +1400
New York Islanders +1400
Carolina Hurricanes +1500
Nashville Predators +1500
Vancouver Canucks +1500
Edmonton Oilers +1700
Toronto Maple Leafs +1700
Pittsburgh Penguins +1900

Odds taken July 8th

The second phase of the draft lottery to determine the #1 pick will be held following the qualifying round of postseason play. The draft will be conducted sometime after the conclusion of the playoffs.

Originally, the draft was slated for June 26-27th in Montreal.

Canadiens Win Would Create Perfect Storm

It’s rare that anyone would suggest bookmakers were sentimental types. However, favoring Montreal to win the draft lottery in this instance certainly could create a wonderful marriage were it to come to fruition.

The consensus #1 pick in the 2020 NHL entry draft is French-Canadian forward Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic. A French Canadian superstar landing in Montreal?

Things haven’t gone so fortuitously since Montreal traded with the California Golden Seals for the top pick in the 1971 draft and selected Quebec Remparts legend Guy Lafleur. En route to a Hall-of-Fame career, Lafleur was a key part of five Stanley Cup winners with the Canadiens.

The last two #1 overall picks from Rimouski – Vincent Lecavalier (1998, Tampa Bay) and Sidney Crosby (2005, Pittsburgh) – both led their teams to Stanley Cup glory.

Must Lose to Win

Crosby could play a significant role if Lafreniere is destined to end up in a Canadiens uniform. The Penguins face Montreal in the qualifying round.

That’s the rub in all this lottery talk. The team that ultimately wins #1 and Lafreniere must initially lose in the first round of the playoff tournament.

Sportsbooks are seeing significant action played on the Penguins to eliminate Montreal – more than is being wagered on any other team. One sportsbook reported 98% of the handle and 92% of bets taken on this series are backing Pittsburgh.

No team other than Montreal is in single digits in terms of betting handle.

It’s Still a Crapshoot

No matter how fast a team loses in the qualifying round – whether they’re swept or go the full five games before suffering their fate – they’ll find themselves on equal footing entering the draw for first pick in the draft lottery.

Each club has a 12.5% chance of nailing it.

That being the case, bettors might as well take a chance with a team at longer odds. The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t won a season series from the New York Rangers since 2006. Overall, the Canes are 14-37-1 against the Rangers in that span.

Why not play Carolina at +1500 then?

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