Report: NHL proposes several changes to draft lottery format

Arun Srinivasan
·3-min read

The NHL is doing its best to ensure that teams don't deliberately tank to improve their draft standing.

Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports that the league proposed several changes to the NHL Draft Lottery, notably barring teams from winning the lottery more than twice over a five-year span (we're looking at you, Edmonton and New Jersey!)

Other proposed changes include a rule barring teams from jumping more than 10 spots due to a lottery win and a reduction in the number of picks affected by the outcome of the lottery, Johnston reports.

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The 2020 NHL Draft Lottery inadvertently wielded several problems. With seven slots allocated to teams that weren't invited back to the league's playoff qualifying round, along with eight spots granted to teams that had yet to be eliminated, the league ostensibly built a fair system for all parties involved. However, "Team E" won the first overall pick, and it took a second separate lottery to determine the New York Rangers were the fateful winner, among the other seven qualifying-round losers. New York selected highly-touted winger Alexis Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick.

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 10: The New York Rangers  are selected No. 1 during Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery on August 10, 2020 at the NHL Network's studio in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
There could be some major changes to the NHL Draft Lottery format as we know it. (Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Problems with the draft lottery aren't a recent development, either. Since the NHL elected to change the draft lottery rules in 2014-15, which gave the league's four worst teams diminished odds of gaining the first pick, the worst overall team has won the lottery twice — Toronto won in 2016 to select Auston Matthews, while Buffalo took Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 pick in 2018.

The lottery also allowed Edmonton to win the first overall pick three times in a five-year span, selecting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nail Yakupov (2012) and Connor McDavid (2015), the latter of which sent many fans into a frenzied rage over the most coveted prospect of his generation falling into the lap of a team that had outstanding luck in recent years. More recently, New Jersey won the lottery twice over a three-year span to select Nico Hischier (2017) and Jack Hughes (2019).

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By design, the lottery will always be a point of contention for fans, and some executives. If this proposal is indeed ratified, we may get a more fair, albeit less exciting outcome.

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