Breaking down the unresolved conditional 2020 NHL draft picks

If the NHL season does get cancelled, and the Stanley Cup playoffs do not occur, this would open up lots of questions about the NHL Draft.

Currently, there are 14 unresolved conditional draft picks, which range from playoff participation, to playoff performance, to individual player performance during the course of the 2019-20 NHL season and postseason. If we don’t see any more games in the current season, the NHL will have to make decisions on each and every one of these draft picks.

The likely scenario is that they will be taken at face value. No condition had a provision for a work stoppage or pause, and with this season setting precedence for all future seasons that may be shortened or cancelled, the simplest solution is usually the most likely one.

Projected Draft Order

Last week we dove into a potential way for the NHL to determine the draft order for the upcoming draft. Because the order for all teams who make the playoffs are dependent on playoff performance, a new system needs to be created in the event the season does get cancelled.

A full breakdown of the rules we assumed can be found here, but the order is as follows:

PosTeam PosTeam PosTeam
1Detroit  12Winnipeg  23Pittsburgh 
2Ottawa  13NY Rangers  24Edmonton 
3San Jose  14Florida  25Philadelphia 
4Los Angeles  15Columbus  26Tampa Bay 
5Anaheim  16Calgary  27Colorado 
6New Jersey  17NY Islanders  28Vegas 
7Buffalo  18Nashville  29Washington 
8Montreal  19Carolina  30St Louis 
9Chicago  20Vancouver  31Boston 
10Arizona  21Toronto    
11Minnesota  22Dallas    

Let’s dive in.

Conditional Picks: Round 1

RoundTraded ToTraded FromConditionOrigin
1New Jersey DevilsArizona CoyotesNew Jersey receives a first-round pick in 2020 if Arizona’s first-round pick in 2020 is outside of the top three selections. Otherwise the pick will defer to 2021.Taylor Hall trade
1Carolina HurricanesToronto Maple LeafsCarolina receives a first-round pick in 2020 if Toronto’s first-round pick in 2020 is outside of the top ten selections. Otherwise the pick will defer to 2021.Patrick Marleau trade
1New York RangersCarolina HurricanesNew York receives the later of Carolina or Toronto’s first-round pick in 2020 if Carolina acquires the Maple Leafs’ first-round pick in 2020. Otherwise New York will receive the Hurricanes’ first-round pick in 2020.Brady Skjei trade
1Ottawa SenatorsNew York IslandersOttawa receives a first-round pick in 2020 if New York’s first-round pick in 2020 is outside the top three selections. Otherwise the pick will defer to 2021.Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade
1Minnesota WildPittsburgh PenguinsMinnesota receives a first-round pick in 2020 if Pittsburgh qualifies for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Otherwise the pick can be deferred to 2021.Jason Zucker/ Alex Galchenyuk trade
1New Jersey DevilsVancouver Canucks (via Tampa Bay Lightning)New Jersey receives a first-round pick in 2020 if Vancouver qualifies for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Otherwise the pick will defer to 2021.Blake Coleman trade
Tampa Bay previously acquired this pick in the JT Miller trade
  • Arizona’s first round pick is outside the top three selections, so New Jersey receives Arizona’s 2020 first round pick.
  • Toronto’s first round pick is outside the top 10 selections, therefore Carolina receives Toronto’s 2020 first round pick.
  • Carolina has Toronto’s first round pick in addition to their own. Therefore, the Rangers receive the later of the two, Toronto’s 2020 first round pick.
  • The Islanders’ first round pick is outside the top three selections, so Ottawa receives the Islanders’ 2020 first round pick.
  • Pittsburgh did not qualify for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs as they do not exist. Therefore, Pittsburgh can choose whether to send their 2020 or 2021 first round pick to Minnesota.
  • Vancouver did not qualify for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs as they do not exist. Therefore, New Jersey receives Tampa Bay’s 2021 first round pick.

Conditional Picks: Round 3

RoundTraded ToTraded FromConditionOrigin
3Calgary FlamesEdmonton OilersCalgary receives a third-round pick in 2020 if Neal scores at least 21 goals during the 2019–20 NHL season and Lucic has at least ten fewer goals than Neal.James Neal/ Milan Lucic trade
3Chicago BlackhawksCalgary FlamesChicago receives the higher of Calgary or Edmonton’s third-round pick in 2020 if Calgary acquires the Oilers’ third-round pick in 2020. Otherwise the Blackhawks will receive the Flames’ third-round pick in 2020.Erik Gustafsson trade
3San Jose SharksWashington CapitalsSan Jose receives Arizona’s third-round pick in 2020 if Washington wins the Stanley Cup in 2020. Otherwise this will remain a third-round pick in 2021.Brenden Dillon trade
3 or 4New Jersey DevilsCarolina HurricanesNew Jersey receives a fourth-round pick in 2020 if Vatanen plays in five games during the 2019–20 NHL season for Carolina. This upgrades to a third-round pick if Vatanen plays in 12 games during the 2019–20 NHL season for the Hurricanes or if he plays in 70% of their playoff games.Sami Vatanen trade
  • James Neal did not score 21 goals. Therefore, Calgary does not receive Edmonton’s 2020 third round pick.
  • Calgary only has one third round pick, so Chicago receives Calgary’s 2020 third round pick.
  • Washington did not win the Stanley Cup in 2020, therefore San Jose does not receive a third round pick in 2020.
  • Vatanen did not play in five games for Carolina this season. This will come down to the exact specification of the conditions, but from CapFriendly and Wikipedia, the wording implies that Carolina will not receive any pick from New Jersey.

Conditional Picks: Round 4

RoundTraded ToTraded FromConditionOrigin
4Detroit Red WingsEdmonton OilersDetroit receives a fourth-round pick in 2020 if Edmonton does not advance to the 2020 Western Conference Final or if Green does not play in at least 50% of the Oilers’ playoff games. If both conditions are met, this will become a third-round pick in 2021.Mike Green/ Kyle Brodziak trade
4Anaheim DucksPhiladelphia FlyersAnaheim receives the higher of Nashville or Philadelphia’s fourth-round pick in 2020.Derek Grant trade
  • Edmonton did not advace to the 2020 Western Conference Final, therefore Detroit receives Edmonton’s 2020 fourth round pick.
  • Philadelphia received Nashville’s fourth round pick in the Wayne Simmonds deal last year. Nashville’s pick would be higher, therefore Anaheim receives Nashville’s 2020 fourth round pick.

Conditional Picks: Round 7

RoundTraded ToTraded FromConditionOrigin
7Columbus Blue JacketsArizona CoyotesColumbus receives a seventh-round pick in 2020 if Hannikainen plays 10 games for Arizona during the 2019–20 NHL season.Markus Hannikainen trade
7Toronto Maple LeafsEdmonton OilersToronto receives a seventh-round pick in 2020 if Vesey plays in an unknown number of games for Edmonton prior to the expiration of his entry level contract.Nolan Vesey trade
  • Hannikainen did not play 10 games for Arizona, so Columbus does not receive Arizona’s 2020 seventh round pick.
  • Vesey did not play any games with Edmonton and his entry level contract expires at the end of this season. Therefore, Toronto does not receive Edmonton’s 2020 seventh round pick.

Final Selections By Round By Team

With the resolution of all 14 conditional picks, there is quite a bit of movement on the draft board. Six selections would now be owned by different teams, three of which are first round picks. There are still decisions to be made that impact the first round as well, with Pittsburgh having the option of sending their 2020 or 2021 first rounder to Minnesota.

Some trades are stickier than others. Any involving teams qualifying for the playoffs, which applies to many of these picks, will be in dispute. Several teams were virtual locks to make the postseason, but no team had clinched a berth at the time of the pause.

Player performance is another issue. The resolution of the Neal/Lucic trade would not see the Flames receive Edmonton’s third round pick, but prorating Neal’s scoring pace over a full season would result in the pick being transferred.

The NHL will have to make a decision. There is no precedent for something like this, and all the complicated conditions teams place on draft picks wasn’t really a concern even just a few years ago. Player bonuses were prorated during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, but whatever the NHL decides to do this year will serve as the example for all future seasons that may be shortened or cancelled.

What do you think the NHL will do with conditional picks? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @wincolumnblog.

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