The National Hockey League answered a pretty big question this week when they made a key ruling regarding some of the conditional draft picks that are currently in limbo as a result of the unexpected stoppage in the 2019 - 2020 NHL season. You see multiple trades around the league involved conditional picks that had conditions associated with making the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and with 8 extra teams thrown into the mix that raised a ton of questions.
One such trade was the deal struck between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Vancouver Canucks in the summer of 2019, a trade that saw the Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller in exchange for, in part, a 2020l first round draft selection with some conditions attached to it. Interestingly enough that pick is now in the hands of the New Jersey Devils following yet another trade but the condition remains the same, should the Canucks fall into the draft lottery in 2020 they would instead give up their 2021 first round draft pick as part of the deal.
The Canucks however are set to face the Wild in a "play in series" prior to entering what we would traditionally consider the 16 team Stanley Cup Playoffs and as it turns out that series will now determine the future of that pick. Based on a ruling made today by the NHL should the Canucks lose to the Wild, they would be considered a team that had missed the postseason and therefore they would retain their pick in 2020 and instead give up their first round pick in 2021.
From the NHL via insider Pierre LeBrun:
"More specifically, for Trade condition purposes, a Club will not be deemed to have qualified for the Playoffs unless or until they have progressed into the Round of 16, and ‘Playoff Games/Rounds’ will only include the games/rounds played in the Round of 16 or later. We believe this interpretation will best reflect the intentions of the parties at the time of the Trade."
The 2021 pick will come with no lottery protection so if the Canucks do fall to the Wild their pick in 2021 will fall to the Devils regardless of where they draft. As you can see this play in series between the Wild and the Canucks now has quite a prize attached to it, albeit one of the teams that stands to gain the most from it won't even be involved in said series.