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Sabres GM questions fairness of proposed draft lottery changes

Jun 27, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT

Erie Otters v Guelph Storm Getty Images

Connor McDavid is seen as a guy that could develop into the best forward in the NHL. In other words, he’s a game changer like Sidney Crosby has been for the Pittsburgh Penguins and he’ll be available to whichever team wins the 2015 NHL Draft lottery.

There’s a good chance the Buffalo Sabres will end up in the NHL basement next season, giving them the best odds of getting McDavid. Sabres GM Tim Murray knows that. Everyone does. And that’s at the heart of his argument that the proposal to smooth out the odds for the draft lottery aren’t fair.

“I just think it affects the teams you see at the bottom now, so you know who you’re affecting,” Murray told Buffalo News. “I’m not sure that’s fair. I think if you did it three years out, you know you’re affecting somebody. You’re affecting a bad team, but you’re not sure who that team is right now.”

Under the changes, the worst team in the league goes from having a 25% chance to win the lottery to 19-20%. For 2015, the worst team can only slide one spot, which wouldn’t be a devastating drop given that Jack Eichel is another very highly-regarded prospect. Starting with the 2016 draft, the worst team will be able to drop as far as fourth place. All this is subject to the NHLPA’s approval, but Murray doesn’t think that will be an obstacle.

He’s also not fundamentally opposed to these changes, which are designed to discourage tanking, his issue is just with the timing of it. If the league agreed to these tweaks now, but waited a few years to implement them, then this would all be fine in his mind.

In addition to their own pick, the Sabres also control the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders’ 2015 first round selections.

  1. gbart22 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Sounds like sour grapes because he wants mcdavid

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      You’re full of B.S. He is right. Trades were made for picks with the understanding that the system stays the same. Changing rules in midstream is grossly unfair.

      • freneticgarfieldfan - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        stop calling other commenters idiots

      • lordfletcher - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        “You’re full of B.S. He is right. Trades were made for picks with the understanding that the system stays the same. Changing rules in midstream is grossly unfair.”

        “stop calling other commenters idiots”

        please point out to us where the word idiots was used?

    • shoobiedoobin - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      Sounds like the typical witch hunt for sour grapes you see on every sports forum these days.

  2. gbart22 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Which his complaining kind of reinforces the idea that you should be going out to win whoever you are so in theory you can’t project to be the worst team they don’t want that to be the case. Go out and ice the best team you can

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      More crap from you. They’re trying to build a winner in Buffalo instead of continually being mediocre, which has been their history. Every team tries to win. Every player tries to win every game. You don’t know that?

    • anthj99 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      He’s being realistic. The odds of a team going from beyond terrible to a top 5 team in 1yr is very small. The Sabres didn’t ‘tank’ on purpose, but that’s the position they we’re put in by the previous GM. Also, teams have made trades and roster moves based on the current draft system so when the Sabres traded Vanek to the Islanders they were betting on getting a high draft pick in 2015. Now this decision potentially changes the value of that trade as well. Other teams have made similar trades for future draft picks for years too so even if it wasn’t affecting the Sabres I’d still have the opinion that this decision is unfair. It should be 2-3 years out.

    • dueman - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      I can’t believe that a comment saying basically – “Don’t plan on tanking, but instead play to win” gets so darn many down votes! Talk about sad… With the cap space that Buffalo has, and the coach that they have, they have the ability to ice a decent team. The way that Murray is talking though, sure makes it look like their plan for the year is to tank, rather than try, and that’s really sad. What’s even more sad though is all the Buffalo fans on here that would support their team tanking rather than trying….I wouldn’t support my team tanking, no matter who was available to them if they did…

  3. rednuthatch - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Logical complaint on TM’s part. It is inherently unfair to change rules in the middle of the game- that only penalizes the team that WAS following the rules. 2016 would be a clean slate- start your changes there. As someone said on another thread these changes would de-value every high draft pick currently won or traded for.

  4. pjblake2redwings - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    I hope a player like McDavid does not get stuck in Buffalo or Edmonton.. both get tons of high draft picks and the players don’t develope and play to their potential

    • buddysguys - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      name one player?

      • pjblake2redwings - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        2013 1 round 8 pick Rasmus Ristolainen
        2013 1 round 16pick Nikita Zadorov
        2012 1 round 14pick Zemgus Girgensons
        2012 1 round 12pick Mikhail Grigorenko
        2009 1 round 13pick Zack Kassian
        2008 1 round 12pick Tyler Myers- good to start falling apart now

      • lordfletcher - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        2013 1 round 8 pick Rasmus Ristolainen
        2013 1 round 16pick Nikita Zadorov
        2012 1 round 14pick Zemgus Girgensons
        2012 1 round 12pick Mikhail Grigorenko
        2009 1 round 13pick Zack Kassian
        2008 1 round 12pick Tyler Myers- good to start falling apart now

        None of these are top picks? IMO, top picks are top 3, furthest I would consider is top 5 … and what happened to the other years? Not going to include the entire picture eh?

      • buddysguys - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        this guy is a clown fletch

    • rzon250 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      That is a stupid, inaccurate comment. The Sabres haven’t drafted in the top since the early 80’s. Edmonton – yes, Buffalo, no.

      • pjblake2redwings - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        Rasmus Ristolainen 2013 8th pick is considered top buddy

      • buddysguys - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        and Rasmus is a top pick that the REdwings wuld love to have….pal. Zadorov as well, Girgensons as well….OH WAIT DET was rumored to be a landing spot for Myers too….you sound like a moron.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      You’re an idiot. Stop right there before you embarrass yourself further.

    • rzon250 - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      The 8th pick isn’t a “top pick” and how can you possibly call a guy drafted in LAST YEAR a “player who the Sabres haven’t developed” do you know a single thing about hockey before running your mouth?

    • mc321984 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      So bc a 18 year old isn’t playing in nhl his first year means he’s a bust? You don’t know hockey

  5. hy3rid28 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Cry baby, anyone that thinks they should be compensated for being the worst team in the league needs to get over it.. The only problem i see with this is rule is they didnt put it in place sooner.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      Your comment is too stupid to refute. See my response to the first idiot on this page. You two are obviously twins.

    • xaile94 - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      “The only problem i see with this is rule is they didnt put it in place sooner.”

      You’re agreeing with TM here, basically. If the rule changes were announced 3 years ago, Buffalo (and every other team) would have prepared differently.

      As for teams getting “compensated for being the worst”, that’s the entire point of the draft. Should the Kings be getting the #1 pick? Wait, they picked in the top 5 from 2007-09. The Blackhawks? 3 top 5 picks from 2004-07. The draft is how bad teams (under proper management) get better. Moron.

  6. pjblake2redwings - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    Buffalo Sucks obviously and arent going to get any better anytime soon. Have fun missing the playoffs for years to come and compaining about the 1 time you made it far but LOST!

    bhahahahahhahahahahahah Buffalo is a joke. have another 60 players dress for your team this yr hahahaha fu*king looooosers

    • buddysguys - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      from a team that barely crawled out of the EAST if DET was out WEST still they would have been even worse.

      You are a sorry little thing aren’t you?

      • pjblake2redwings - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        Because your stats look great the past few year. haha

        Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA Finish Playoffs
        2009–10 82 45 27 10 100 235 207 1st, Northeast Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 2–4 (Bruins)
        2010–11 82 43 29 10 96 245 229 3rd, Northeast Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 3–4 (Flyers)
        2011–12 82 39 32 11 89 218 230 3rd, Northeast Did not qualify
        2012–13 48 21 21 6 48 125 143 5th, Northeast Did not qualify
        2013-14 82 21 51 10 52 154 244 8th, Atlantic Did not qualify

      • buddysguys - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:52 PM

        did i say they did? I just dont sound like a complete idiot like you do. Looks like a lot of people agree with me too.

      • buddysguys - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        oh and you forgot back to back CONF finals….. but thats ok you wouldnt want to put the good stuff out there right?

  7. rmccleary97 - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    If “tanking for a high draft pick” was really the problem some allege it is (and, was as easy to prove as some think it is), the solution isn’t “re-do the draft lottery odds.” It’s “yank a team’s 1st-round pick for intentionally trying to lose and dock the team $5 million” and make the next year’s 1st the last pick in the round, a la New Jersey this year. Do that once, and every other team in the league *instantly* gets the message and cuts that crap out (presuming it’s going on at all).

  8. stakex - Jun 27, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Everyone needs to understand the whole point of this rule change, and why its important for next year… and I think Murray is actually making the leagues case for them with these comments.

    When you have a player like McDavid in the draft, the NHL doesn’t want a race to the bottom. Teams have a responsibility to the fans (and their players), which pay good money to watch games, to actually try to go out and win every game they play. Rewarding teams with better odds for sucking, encourages teams to tank…. especially with big names in the draft.

    The fact that Murray is already planning for his team to finished last next season is concerning. That’s exactly what the NHL doesn’t want. Instead of worrying about the number one pick next year, he should be focused on fielding a competitive team that plays its way out of contention for that draft pick. No doubt that’s a tall task for Buffalo, but its not impossible.

    • Andee - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      I agree on some levels, but at the same time, expecting a last place finish is kind of the reality the Sabres are looking at for a couple seasons. They are very, very bad right now. I’m as loyal a fan as they come, but the reality is they’re likely five years away from being a serious competitor again, provided everything even breaks correctly for them.

      While I don’t think he is actively promoting that the team will “tank” next season, they’re not going to win very many games.

    • c9castine - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      I agree I think it’s troubling he just declared his team will bein.last place this year. That exactly what league doesn’t want and fans shouldn’t either

    • dueman - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      stakex – Very well said, and I couldn’t agree more!

    • alliceishome - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:44 AM

      I can’t believe people are downvoting a comment about encouraging all teams to play to win.

  9. therealjr - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I’m ok with changing it but I’d put at least one more year on the lead time and start it in 2016.

    • dueman - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      Until after your team tanks, and gets McDavid, right? McDavid is the reason they are going to implement this rule, and Murray’s response shows that it’s a necessary rule change…

  10. sizzle299 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Tim Murray should have made these arguments in private to the decision making body. Regardless of your opinion of the truth of the matter, it gives the impression that Buffalo intends to finish last next season. No team should appear to want to lose, and it sets a bad precedent.

  11. luz56 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Personally I think it should be two years out.. Playoff system should include a bracket for non playoff teams… Best of three series with winner of the “loser” bracket getting first overall pick

    • valoisvipers - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      How would a loser bracket help a truly bad team get better? The league needs every team to be competitive, and have a real chance at winning the cup.This is why there is a salary cap.

  12. luz56 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    I look at the Oilers (I might be biased bring a Flames fan) and how the heck has the draft helped them? Playoffs are earned usually in October and November.. Those first 20 games could cost you a playoff spot… My suggestion is bottom 16 go into a loser round best of 3, or a home and home total point series… 1 vs16, 2 vs15 3vs14 etc… Winner of the loser round gets the first overall pick .. Does it not make it more interesting for fan base? Players playing all out at the end of the year for top pick… NHL makes more revenue for loser round and put that money towards winner if Stanley Cup… Just a thought

    • mc321984 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      Problem with that. How do you expect the guys on ice, whom are presumed to be mostly bad if they are in that spot, to play hard for a cause that will likeky lose them their job?

  13. rupp246 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    This gm is an idiot. Your basically telling your team that we suck now and will suck again without even playing a game. Boy, the free agents are lining up at the door to play for the Sabres.

  14. bigtalljoe - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    Think this rule is being made, so Bettman can cover his ass when the next big market team that misses the playoffs gets McDavid. Let’s see a few years ago Pittsburgh was a mess, then mysteriously behind closed doors they land the lottery and pick Crosby. Hmmm I think next year Detroit barely misses the playoffs and mysteriously behind closed doors wins the lottery. That was just an example. But see what I getting at? Where was this rule when Edmonton and Colorado were picking at the top of the draft very year? Screw the lottery system..period!

  15. alliceishome - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    He’s not even disagreeing with the change – just doesn’t want it now when it would particularly effect them. Hypocrite.

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