NHL Announces Draft Lottery Changes

Taking in hopes of drafting top prospect Connor McDavid just got a little more difficult. The NHL announced earlier this week a 2-year set of changes to the NHL Entry Draft lottery for teams who didn’t make the playoffs. Under the previous format, the team with the worse record would be guaranteed the first or second overall pick in the draft. Coming in 2016, they could fall as far down as fourth.

The league cited the need to “…more appropriately reflect the current state of competitive balance in the League.”. And if there’s anyone who is up in arms over the change, it’s Buffalo GM Tim Murray. With the entire hockey world (no pun intended) knowing that Buffalo will be terrible this season, Murray already voiced his dissatisfaction. “You know who you’re affecting, that’s not fair,” said Murray.

The rule changes were approved by the Board of Governors earlier this spring, and was approved by the NHLPA over the summer. Below is breakdown of the decreased No. 1 overall pick odds for the team with the worse record in the league, and the increased chances for clubs with the second-fourth worse records.


The real change will come in 2016 when three different set of processes will be in order to determine the draft order. Using the same chart as above, one lottery will be used to determine the No. 1 overall pick. Then, separate lotteries will be used to find out who has the No. 2 and No. 3 overall pick. The odds of those teams in the lotteries will be adjusted pending the result of the previous lottery. The order for pick Nos. 4-14 will be in inverse order from the final record of the 2015-16 season. Long story short, just because you have the worse record in the league doesn’t guarantee a top pick in the draft. If the lottery doesn’t go your favor in 2015, you can be picking as high as No. 4 in the draft.

We’re pretty sure the league’s corporate line is to prevent tanking and to encourage teams to focus on the present season come the All-Star/Olympic Break instead of losing for next year. And there’s substance to that. Fans and sponsors pay a lot of money to watch a product on the ice in the present, not the future. Some people against this change might say that bad franchises drafting good prospects help them get better (or at least give them the assets to do so). But the fact is, if you’re good enough to make the playoffs, you likely wouldn’t need to worry about these changes to the draft format.

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