NHL Draft lottery shouldn’t include teams in Stanley Cup Playoffs

Alexis Lafreniere (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Alexis Lafreniere (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The 2020 NHL Draft lottery should only be won by a team that needs it.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into the NHL’s plans. It has forced the league to get creative to get back some of the revenue they lost and make things fair for all the teams. The NHL Draft, most notably the lottery, is one area that’s still a bit grey. But it won’t be for much longer.

On Tuesday, May 26, commissioner Gary Bettman will clarify a few things about the Stanley Cup Playoffs 24 team format and the draft in an announcement. The lottery will be included as well. According to Shayna Goldman of The Athletic, the lottery is expected to include the teams who lose in the play-in round.

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If that’s true, it’s very odd. The draft lottery is meant to help out the non-playoff teams. Yes, there are usually 16 teams. But this year, there are 24. Why go against history? Just leave it to the seven teams who didn’t make the playoffs. Those teams need the high draft picks more than the teams who made the postseason.

The purpose of the draft is to make it so the bad teams have a chance to be good. Imagine telling the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, and Los Angeles Kings that they can’t have the top four picks they deserve all because the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Montreal Canadiens. That would be outrageous. Yes, the chances of it happening are extremely slim, but they exist nonetheless. And they shouldn’t exist.

Instead of relying on a best of five series to potentially determine who gets a high draft pick, just leave the lottery to the seven teams who were so bad, they couldn’t even make the postseason despite a 24 team format.

If you want to follow protocol and determine the rest of the first round order by which teams got eliminated first, that’s not ideal, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s fine. It’s probably the most fair thing the league could do and it would ensure a team doesn’t get both a long playoff run and a high draft pick.

There’s no way the NHL’s having a format that everyone likes. But at least make it so the worst teams have the best chance to get better.

Some team who lost three out of five games in the postseason shouldn’t be getting a higher draft pick than the Red Wings, Senators, Kings, Ducks, Sabres, or Devils. That’s very unfair to the teams who really need a high draft pick.

Consensus number one pick Alexis Lafrenière is going to be whoever drafts him extremely happy. It should be an objectively bad team who drafts him. Preferably, it should be the Senators or Red Wings. But there should be a zero percent chance some team who lost a few postseason games gets the first overall pick.

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We won’t be sure of anything until after Bettman speaks. And we’ll be sure to keep you updated. Hopefully, for the sake of the lottery teams, things will change. But right now, it’s not looking too good.