What’s Wrong With The NHL? The NHL Draft Lottery Needs Improvement

From my previous articles, you may think I don’t like the NHL at all. That’s not the case at all. It’s a great league with a great product. I am just suggesting that some improvements could be made to make the game even better. So, with that in mind, here is my next suggestions to make this great game even better.

The NHL Draft Needs Improvements

Parity in a league is an essential part of keeping fans interest. If one team wins year after year, or a team loses year after year, the fan interest in the sport erodes. I will say that I believe parity in the NHL has improved over the last few decades. I actually believe that any team is only 3 to 4 players away from turning a last place team into a contender. Change comes primarily through the draft, so its important to set the ground rules well for drafting new young players. In 2020 ,the draft lottery was as follows: 

TeamPts. %Odds
Detroit Red Wings.27518.5%
Ottawa Senators.43713.5%
Ottawa Senators (via San Jose).43711.5%
Los Angeles Kings.4579.5%

Since Detroit had the lowest winning percentage, they had the highest odds to get the number one pick at 18.5%. The Ottawa Senators were second at 13.5% and so on. The lottery ensures that no team intentionally “tanks” so that they can secure the first overall pick. That makes sense to me and everyone else.  So, Detroit had  an 18.5% chance of getting the first pick, but conversely,Detroit had a 81.5% chance of NOT getting the first pick!

But in a very strange twist, the number one pick was won by the New York Rangers. The Rangers were a good enough team to get into the NHL playdowns. Detroit ended up being dropped to the fourth overall pick. Something is wrong here!

I think the basic process is good, but the odds aren’t fair. The last place team from the previous year should have a 50% chance of winning the number one pick. The second last team, should get a 25% chance to win, the third last team should get a 12% chance, and so on. Only the bottom 8 teams have a chance to win the number one pick. All other teams should have a zero percent chance of winning the number one pick. This does not mean that an eligible team can’t trade away its draft position, it simply improves the odds for the weakest teams.

Final Thoughts

I’ve shared my ideas with you. More importantly, what do you think? Share your ideas with us.

By Garth Vanstone

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