The Winds of Change are blowing through the NHL once again, and this time they’re impacting the Draft Lottery. For 2015 that means the percentage chance that the best of the NHL’s worst has to snag the #1 pick will be reduced.
So, is that fair? Well, yes and no.
Yes, the NHL should be able to do whatever it wants with its draft. However in this case the timing of its changes are somewhat questionable. One does not require the deductive capabilities of Sherlock Holmes to connect this action to the 2015 Draft eligibility of potential superstars Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
The point, and it’s been made before by both myself and many, many others, is there are teams that have constructed their rebuilding strategies around the Draft; next year’s in particular (Hello, Buffalo Sabres). To just change the rules less than a year out doesn’t seem all that fair.
The point has also been made that there were no such lottery changes right before, for example, Sidney Crosby was drafted by Pittsburgh. So to change them now for McDavid seems like some sort of selective modification.
In the Sabres situation they may now actually have a slightly better chance at #1 should the New York Islanders miss the playoffs, as they own the Isles 2015 first round pick. And in the very unlikely event that the St. Louis Blues, whose top pick Buffalo has also secured, should also not qualify for the dance, Buffalo will be sitting pretty.
However, rebuilding teams shouldn’t have to rely on fleecing other GM’s via lopsided trades to offset the chance that the league might decide to pull the lottery rug out from under them.
The NHL should’ve waited until 2017 to implement this decree; 2016 at the earliest. And in truth the NHL should just get rid of the draft lottery altogether. Alas, I have virtually no say in the matter.
Although if they want to both keep it and make it interesting how about this:
From the outset let it be known that at the end of the season, the 27th place team (fourth-to-last) will receive the #1 overall pick. That way you could still tank, but you’d have to be a mathematical genius to do it just right.
Sure, that sounds ridiculous. But no more so than assigning the top draft pick based solely on the whim of a ping pong ball.