Red Wings: NHL needs to modify imperfect draft lottery

After being hosed in the NHL Draft Lottery again, the Detroit Red Wings are proof the format needs to be modified.

As I was focused on the 2020 NHL draft lottery last night, I couldn’t help but notice Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman as he awaited the organization’s fate.

It was funny to scan through Twitter and snicker at Red Wings fans, pointing out that the former Red Wings legend is starting to look a lot like head coach Jeff Blashill.  That may be a compliment when you consider Blashill is 46 years of age and Yzerman nine years older at 55, but that’s not the way it was intended.  Needless to say, Steve is a little light on top and won’t be supplying any barber in the area with much work anytime soon.  One year of managing this Red Wings’ lackluster roster is quickly aging Yzerman.

The Detroit Red Wings finished dead last in the league this past season, earning themselves an 18.5% chance at landing the top overall pick.  The Ottawa Senators were able to combine their odds with the San Jose Sharks odds to produce a 25% chance to land the first overall pick, the best total opportunity.

Oddly, neither are lucky enough to have the opportunity to select the 2020 draft darling, Alexis Lafreniere.  It further supports the idea that the NHL draft format is flawed and needs to change.  Instead of adding a franchise player like Lafreniere, the Detroit Red Wings will add a very good prospect but there is a significant difference between a ‘very good prospect’ and Alexis Lafreniere.

I clearly understand that the format is supposed to prevent the idea of teams straight up tanking.  Being a Red Wings fan myself, I can confirm the Wings were not intentionally tanking; they were just THAT bad.  I don’t feel that the lottery needs to be changed just because of the lack of Red Wings’  success over the last four drafts, I also feel bad for a franchise like the Ottawa Senators who desperately need to add a superstar to put fans in the seats.  The Senators are currently a struggling franchise.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but what transpired last night is far too concerning to overlook.  Somewhere today, Gary Bettman is grinning from ear to ear.  This is EXACTLY what the NHL commissioner wanted to happen.  This seems too far fetched not to of been a fixed lottery.  This keeps the league relevant, and people talking about the league during the dark days of COVID-19.

Are you even curious as to why we don’t see the ping pong balls selected live?  Why is everything behind closed doors and then presented to us?  Very suspicious.  I can’t help but think this is a rigged system.

The way things turned out, the first overall pick will be determined at a later date. There was a 2.5% chance this could happen, and sure enough, here we are.  Each of the teams that are eliminated in the first round of the playoffs will have a one in eight chance at landing the first overall pick.

Yes, a playoff team will have the opportunity to add a generational talent to an already playoff-caliber unit.   Imagine Lafreniere ending up with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, or Toronto Maple Leafs?  It’s become a real possibility, and the thought of it is enough to make me nauseous.

The Detroit Red Wings have been a part of the NHL draft lottery over the past four seasons and have fallen in the draft order each year.

It’s difficult for a rebuilding team to rebuild when the best players are always going to better teams.  This isn’t just a bias Red Wings fans’ take.  Last year the Chicago Blackhawks entered the lottery with a 2.5% chance at winning along with a mere 8.2% chance of earning a top-three pick.

The Hawks were a team that was poised to pick outside of the top-ten, picking twelfth.  Nope.  The Blackhawks were ‘lucky’ enough to pick third in 2019.

It’s going to be a very similar situation in 2020, and it’s prompting many of us to urge the NHL to shift gears and change this flawed lottery format.

Why not simply just have a five-team lottery?

The five teams that finish with the worst regular-season record should have their lottery, and if the league still feels the need to spice things up, perhaps have the next five do something similar.  If this were the case, 1/3 of the league wouldn’t know exactly where they will finish in the draft order at seasons’ end, still making the lottery attractive.

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Enough is enough; if Bettman is unwilling to part with the draft lottery, it at least needs to be adjusted, not just for the sake of the Detroit Red Wings but all of the NHL bottom feeders.