The NHL’s Board of Governors have approved some long overdue changes to the NHL Draft Lottery.
For years, NHL fans have rightfully aired their grievances about the NHL draft lottery system. It was designed to prevent tanking, but, well, there’s still tanking. The draft is supposed to be a way for bad teams to improve, but in recent years, the lottery has trended towards rewarding mediocre teams and not the worst teams.
Apparently the league has heard the grievances, as the Board of Governors have officially approved some changes to the draft lottery. Most of the changes will start in 2022, though one will start in 2021.
Let’s take a look at what fans should take away from these changes that will hopefully help fix a lot of what’s ailing the draft lottery.
Big changes to the NHL Draft Lottery
The first major takeaway is now there are only two lottery draws. Before, there were three. This might seem minor, but it’s very important. Before, the worst team in the league could have at worst the fourth overall pick. But starting this year, the worst team in the league will have at worst the third overall pick. This should give the worst teams a better chance at improving, which is what any draft is supposed to do.
Another significant change involves how many spots a team can move up in the draft. Until this year, teams could move up infinite spots. For example, if the 15th ranked team won the draft lottery, they moved all the way up to number one.
But now, teams can only move up 10 spots. This isn’t new, as this used to be the case in the past. Most notably, the New Jersey Devils won the 2011 draft lottery, yet still picked fourth because teams could only move up four spots. This was abolished in 2013, but now a modified version is making a comeback.
Lastly, the most significant takeaway is teams are no longer allowed to win the draft lottery more than two times in a five year period. Sorry, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers. This change is great for several reasons.
First of all, it discourages consistent tanking. Yes, tanking will still happen on a yearly basis. But at least now multiple years of tanking is discouraged and not rewarded more than twice every five years. Secondly, it will let more teams have a chance to get the first overall pick.
With these changes, hopefully the draft will finally start doing what it was designed to do while still not encouraging egregious tanking.