The winner of the NHL Draft lottery was a mystery team.
Well, this is a first. And it’s not a good thing.
The NHL totally screwed up their draft lottery and there is plenty of disappointment to go around, especially in Detroit where the Red Wings came away as the biggest losers. The Red Wings were far and away the worst team in the NHL this season and were in a position to win the top pick and the right to draft the consensus top prospect, Alexis Lafrenière. They fell all the way to No. 4.
If it’s not the Red Wings who were the biggest losers, it was the Ottawa Senators who had two shots at the top pick and came up empty both times. Their first pick is at No. 3 after the Los Angeles Kings moved all the way up to No. 2.
The team that won the NHL Draft lottery is one of the play-in teams, and we won’t know their identity until they are eliminated the league does the second phase of the lottery. There was a 75 percent chance a playoff-qualifier would get a top-3 pick and that’s what played out in a total embarrassment for the league.
NHL Draft lottery results
8. Buffalo Sabres
7. New Jersey Devils
6. Anaheim Ducks
4. Detroit Red Wings
3. Ottawa Senators
2. Los Angeles Kings
You can understand the disappointment from Red Wings and Senators fans for not winning the NHL Draft lottery and the right to draft the uber-prospect who had 217 points over his last two seasons for Rimouski Oceanic.
But the entire system is flawed and no matter what the results ended up being, this was a disaster from the jump. Sure, there was the COVID-19 pandemic that halted the season and brought its own share of unprecedented hurdles that forced NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to tweak the draft. However, this isn’t a tweaking, this is a full-blown hit job.
How is it possible to have teams who are in the quasi-playoffs and still be eligible for the draft lottery?! You can’t compete for the Stanley Cup and have a shot at the top pick. This is just outrageous and never should have been allowed to happen. It totally destroyed the sanctity of the draft and what it’s intended purpose is and that’s to ensure the bottom of the league has a chance to add top talent and prevent good teams from annually plucking the top prospects.
It’s one thing for a team projected to get the No. 9 pick and moves into the top three picks like the CHicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers did a year ago. But it’s a totally different thing altogether to have a playoff team in the lottery and then actually win it. And then win it over a team that had 39 points in 71 games. The Senators were the second-worst team with 62 points.
There was a clear division at the bottom of the NHL and the league should have increased the odds for the worst of the worst like Detroit and Ottawa to win the lottery and have a legitimate chance at rebuilding their organizations. The Red Wings have been accused of tanking, but they didn’t, they are just a bad team that’s in the early stages of a rebuild with Steve Yzerman in control.
This is like a 9-7 team in the NFL playoffs and losing in the Wild Card round and then somehow getting the top pick to take Trevor Lawrence. This is like the No. 7 seed in the NBA Playoffs getting bounced in 5 games and then getting the right to draft the next Zion Williamson in the draft.
The NHL is used to screwing things up, but the way they botched the lottery, is one of their worst this side of a work stoppage.