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NHL proposes all non-playoff teams get shot at No. 1 draft pick

Dec 28, 2012, 2:10 PM EDT

Bill Daly AP

The annual NHL Entry Draft could be getting a major facelift.

That’s one of the big revelations from the league’s latest CBA offer, obtained by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun on Friday.

According to LeBrun’s report, the NHL has proposed the implementation of a draft lottery in which “all non-Playoff teams compete for the opportunity to choose first overall.”

Under the NHL’s current format, only the bottom four teams (26th through 30th place) are eligible to receive the first overall draft pick.

This system has been in place for 18 years, designed partly in response to accusations the Ottawa Senators “tanked” the end of the 1992 season to select Alexander Daigle first overall in 1993.

For more on how the current system works, here’s James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:

The lottery system is pretty complicated, but the basics are that teams can only move up a maximum of four spots and down a maximum of one spot.

Only one team “wins” the lottery – everyone else moves based on the team that won.

That leaves every team with a maximum of only three different spots they can pick in.

As such, the lottery doesn’t change much in terms of overall landscape. Teams that bottom out end up at the top of the draft, and teams that narrowly missed the playoffs are stuck drafting in the teens.

What the NHL is proposing falls more in line with the NBA Draft Lottery, in which all 14 non-playoff teams have a shot at the first overall pick.

This can lead to some wild results, like in 1993 — that year, Orlando won the No. 1 pick in the draft despite finishing the 1992 season with a 41-41 record and holding just a 1.52 percent chance of winning the lottery.

  1. tmoore4075 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Teams 1-6 (bottom up) or so won’t like it but teams 10-14 would. I see the positive and negative. If you truly stink and get pick 12 that sucks but a team that always ends up in the middle has a shot at a game changer. Would be interesting for sure.

  2. alexb64 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    I like it. Obviously the bottom 4 teams should have better chances depending on their respective records, but I think this could be good to shake up some of the teams stuck in the middle as well. Maybe instead of a team just missing an 8th seed having to hope they can find help in free agency/trade they could possibly have the chance to add superstar help via a lottery pick. The Orlando Magic example is a good one (although they messed that up on their own later on) of a team that was able to go from middling to a legitimate championship contending team, and for the most part the worst team does generally win #1 overall anyway.

  3. norseman81 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    The NBA rigged the draft lottery that year Orlando won it.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Dec 28, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      And the year the Knicks got Ewing
      And the year the Spurs got Duncan

  4. ddaveyy - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    It would add more “drama” to the draft lottery announcement, that’s for sure….the NHL would like to turn it into an “event” as the NBA has done. While I know it’s not the same thing, as everyone in the NHL was involved back in ’05, but I remember the anxiety/tension I had hoping the Habs would have been the last team left on the board.

    Definitely not a bad idea doing it this way…


  5. matt8204 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    There’s no perfect system. If you have a lottery, you’ll have conspiracy theorists going crazy about it being rigged. If it’s just based on the team with the worst record, you’ll have accusations of teams tanking games to get the top pick once it’s obvious that they won’t make the playoffs.

  6. 13datsyuk13 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Bettman trying to turn the NHL into the NBA? Weird…

  7. ml3939 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    I would think the Pens intentionally losing to draft Mario deserves mentioning too. I’d be much happier with Devils fans talking smack about all the additional championships their team won than reading some kid from Pittsburgh rambling on about Sydney’s junk.

    • tmoore4075 - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      In the end Devils end up with 3 Cups to Mario’s two though so hard to walk away pissed on that.

    • matt8204 - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:20 PM

      An interesting “what-if” of hockey history. If the Devils drafted Lemieux, how would things have been different? Probably would have spelled the end of the Penguins franchise. Kirk Muller was a nice player, but not a franchise-saving one.

  8. tmoore4075 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Also I want to add the biggest reason the NHL is adding this is to try and reduce (you’ll never eliminate) tanking your season. If finishing 17th gets you no better odds than 30th no reason to try and suck.

  9. odiuspfunk - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    There is no reason to have any kind of draft lottery in the NHL. The teams depend on gate receipts more than any other league, so there is less incentive to tank. Worst picks first and so on. This will ensure that lower revenue teams who lose the draft lottery continue to struggle.

  10. mehetmet - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    A team should never want to lose to improve. Also a fan should never want his/her team to lose to improve, its backwards.

    The best team, the one who wins the Cup should have #1, the exact opposite of how it is now. Picks should go based solely on standings 1-last, with 1 being the cup winner, then runner up, then down so on and so forth.

    This will never happen, but it is the way it should be.

    • mehetmet - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      This would be the only way to ensure a team isn’t tanking it.

      • tridecagon - Dec 28, 2012 at 4:51 PM

        I think you mean “this would be the best way to put half of the league out of business”.

        (Of course, right now the entire league is out of business, but let’s not go there.)

        No fan or owner is going to tank if it means missing the playoffs. Playoffs means more fun, more revenue, and a chance at the cup. For this reason, there’s nothing gained from having playoff teams pick before non-playoff teams.

        But teams who are not going to make the playoffs definitely don’t need an incentive to lose more games (which can manifest as straight-up tanking, but also in the annual “fire sale” where popular players are unloaded for future considerations.) Non-playoff teams should probably have roughly equal chances at any pick in the first half of the order. Teams that draft well and have good coaches will still be able to improve regardless of their lottery order.

  11. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Hate it. The NBA almost always seems to have draft lottery winners that just happen to have really interesting story lines attached. There’s a reason that a good portion of NBA fans legitimately believe the draft is rigged. The farther the NHL stays from that league, the better.

    • biasedhomer - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      So you would rather have teams with 3 first overall picks like the Oilers and Penguins?

      • theawesomersfranchise - Dec 28, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        Yes, if they are the leagues worst

      • killerpgh - Dec 28, 2012 at 8:04 PM

        What 3 first overalls do the Penguins have? They traded up in the draft to get MAF and won the lottery that every team had a chance at to select Crosby. Other than that they don’t have a number 1 overall on their team unless you are including Lemieux. So I don’t follow you point.

  12. pastabelly - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    How does the draft work if the don’t play a season? Should a team get the top pick two years in a row?

    • killerpgh - Dec 28, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      Look up the 2005 draft. Because the season was cancelled every team had a chance at the first overall pick. Every team started with 3 balls. They lost a ball(s) due to different things like making the playoff the past 4 years and if a team has “earned” the top overall pick the the 3 latest drafts they also lost a ball. No team could have less than 1 ball. Then they placed the balls in a lottery machine and that is how the draft order was set. The draft also snaked each round meaning the team the got the 1st overall would pick again until the last pick of the 2nd round and the team that had the last pick in the 1st round would then have the 1st pick on the 2nd round.

  13. atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    The Oilers are gonna be mad, thats their god given right to have the first overall pick

  14. joeyashwi - Dec 28, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    It’s a good idea as long as the lottery isn’t done behind closed doors like the NBA. Make it an event that the fans get to watch!

  15. hockeyfan28 - Dec 29, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    liking this a lot prevents teams from selling off players or tanking games at the end of the year to get better draft position don’t really know what Columbus or Edmonton fans would look forward to then but for the rest of the league this is a good thing

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