A scenario where the Montreal Canadiens tank the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Montreal Canadiens

MONTREAL, QC – FEBRUARY 03: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Gary Bettman detailed the rules behind the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, and the Montreal Canadiens could very easily lose their place out of the top-ten.

The fanbase has been split. Half feel the Montreal Canadiens getting an opportunity to compete for the 2020 Stanley Cup is a blessing, while others think it throws a wrench in all the suffering from this past season. Regardless of what either side feels, the Habs have a chance of qualifying for the playoffs, and as confusing as it may be, the NHL figured out a way to prevent taking for the draft lottery.

The T-word is likely off the minds of several organizations, especially now that their seasons are allowed to continue. The New York Rangers and Florida Panthers were gunning for a playoff spot in March while the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators were preparing for the lottery. Montreal was close enough to join the lottery conversation.

Any opportunity to win the Stanley Cup is an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. Still, the Montreal Canadiens will have to go through a number of juggernauts to get there, starting with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Carey Price is a defining factor definitely, however, anything can happen in a tournament such as this.

Additionally, the NHL nixed the ability to tank. Gary Bettman broke down the rules of the lottery, which will have the seven teams whose seasons ended be in the running to win one of the three lotteries for the top picks. The other eight spots will be involved, but we won’t know who gets each spot as they won’t get an owner until a team is eliminated from the play-in round of the playoffs.

One of those spots from 8-15 could end up winning one of those lotteries giving teams an incentive to lose. Now let’s be clear, players don’t tank, organizations do. It would be difficult for management to orchestrate purposeful losing without being able to make trades and with a likely expanded roster. At the same time, it would be difficult for a coach to look players in the eye, especially those who have dreamt of winning a Stanley Cup, and then go on to make efforts to ensure they lose.

There’s one angle of it. The other is that there’s no guarantee an eliminated playoff team gets that pick.

If an 8-15 team wins one of the lotteries, a second lottery takes place between all the other eliminated play-in teams before round one. These teams then all have a 12.5% chance of obtaining said pick.

Say, for example, the Montreal Canadiens are the second team to be eliminated from the play-in round, and the ninth pick wins the third lottery moving up to third overall. A second lottery would happen, and the Habs wouldn’t have the advantage of keeping the pick. It’s smart thinking on the league’s part.

Fans will likely prefer for the Habs to lose and lose quickly. That way, they can remain in the top-ten. But anything can happen in a best-of-five series, we’re talking about getting there wins here.

As frustrating as it could be to watch the Montreal Canadiens advance the first-round to only lose and have their pick end up in the mid-to-low teens, they’ll have to deal with it. Cole Caufield was the 19th pick in last year’s draft, so the organization can still add talent in a deep draft such as this one is expected to be.

Losing may be the best route long-term, but there are players on this roster who were on the 2013-14 squad. Many agree things would’ve been different if Price was healthy. Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise were on that team, and you can believe they’ll do their best to fight for that championship.

Tanking won’t be a thing this time around, the league made sure of that.