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Kings move up to No. 2 in NHL draft, but the lottery winner remains a mystery

Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Hockey

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings President Luc Robitaille looked around the room, from the TV screen to general manager Rob Blake to the small camera set up in front of them and then back to the TV.

He smiled, chuckled and began comprehending what just happened, what it all meant.

The Kings didn't lose the NHL draft lottery Friday, not by a longshot, moving up to the No. 2 overall pick despite finishing with the league's fourth-worst point percentage. But they didn't win it either. Really, nobody did, at least not yet.

The NHL's top pick will go to one of the eight teams that will lose in the league's newly created playoff qualification round, an unlikely quirk come true as a result of the coronavirus-delayed season. In the immediate aftermath, nobody was quite sure how to feel.

"We're hockey people," Robitaille said on the team's in-house podcast. "The minute you (know you're) in the top three, you go, 'Man, we need to be No. 1.' That's how you start thinking."

Instead, the Kings will pick second, likely nullifying their chances of drafting consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere but still leaving them in position to boost their rebuild with a top-tier selection.

 

It will be the highest the Kings have drafted since 2008, when they took defenseman Drew Doughty second overall, and the fourth time in franchise history they will pick from the No. 2 slot.

"We're pretty excited," Robitaille said. "We trust Mark (Yannetti, director of amateur scouting) and his staff. They've always gone above and beyond on figuring out who is the best character, who is the best player. ... This gives us an opportunity to get one more player that will come into our organization, that will mean something to be with the Kings."

Elsewhere in the lottery, the Anaheim Ducks landed at No. 6, moving down one spot as a result of the "placeholder" team jumping to the top of the draft board. That will be the Ducks' highest pick since 2012, and one of two they will make in this year's first round. The team also owns the right to the Boston Bruins' first selection.

The No. 1 pick in the draft won't be decided until the lottery's second phase is held later this summer, after the completion of a qualification round that will see teams seeded fifth through 12th in each conference play a best-of-five series. The eight winners of those series will move on to the 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs. The losers will have equal 12.5% odds of getting the draft's top selection.

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