FanPost

Anti-Tank Ammunition

I'm more than a little sick of the whining from fans and writers that Detroit tanked and should not be rewarded with a top 2 pick. I'm especially tired of insults directed toward Detroit fans who believe that the Wings did not "tank." I'm one of those. Let me explain why.

Usually the complainer says something like "The NHL has set up the lottery to punish tanking." I agree with that. The complaint typically then proceeds to say something like "and Detroit sucked so it shouldn't be rewarded with a high pick." I disagree with that, strongly. It is self-evident from the order of the draft that the NHL has always given higher picks to worse teams. This is correct if fairness matters. Any other procedure would concentrate success among a very few dynasties. The draft is constructed to help bad teams. That is fair.

If it is correct that lottery is meant to punish tanking and the draft is designed to help bad teams, how do we resolve this apparent conflict? By accepting a definition of tanking that includes intent. The complainers are saying that Detroit set out to be the worst team in the NHL this season. Without a startling admission by Steve Yzerman or others in the Wings' senior management team, we aren't going to know. On the other hand, what argument based on facts is anyone offering to demonstrate that this season was intentionally horrific? I'll wait.

The team I saw comprised young and old players suffering from injuries and mediocrity, led by too few individuals who suffered from neither. And really bad goaltending. This was a really, really bad team and it deserves a high pick. Will it be unfair and unjust if they automatically get a Top-2 pick? Hardly. No other team has drafted so low over the last generation. And by generation I don't mean one of those two or three year generations typified by so-called "generational talent." I mean thirty year generations, as in the average time between begot and beget.

The Wings last drafted in the top five in 1990. Including that year, thirty drafts have transpired. The Wing's average top pick during that span was 32.8 ! That's right, the average highest pick for Detroit was a second rounder, even according to today's expanded list of NHL teams. During that span only one other team came close to Detroit's lowly place in the draft and that was St. Louis. You may recall that they just won a cup, after being fairly rewarded with two top-five picks in 2006 and 2008. The first of those was the number one overall pick. Usually it is bad form to repeat a sentence in a paragraph, but to hell with convention: The Wings last drafted in the top five in 1990.

If you are inclined to argue with Daddies of Pucks or the Browns Who Go Down, here are some data showing why it is fair and just and fricking inevitable that Detroit should get at least two top five picks. I would prefer they come this year but that would require the Wings to be Senators and I couldn't bear that. So I will accept one more bad year, preferably also winning the lottery next year. Two number one picks in a row would go a long way to at least provide some basis for whining by opponents.

At the risk of being pedantic and obvious, the table is sorted by descending average highest draft pick, so the true tankers like Buffalo, Florida and Edmonton are at the bottom. Data in the table are compiled for franchises, including drafts when the franchise were located in other cities.

Highest Draft Picks Annually for the Last Thirty Years of the NHL Draft

Team

Average

Highest

Lowest

Top 5

Top 10

Below 30

Detroit Red Wings

32.8

3

120

1

5

10

St. Louis Blues

30.5

1

68

2

2

12

Toronto Maple Leafs

25.7

1

90

4

9

8

Pittsburgh Penguins

25.3

1

120

6

7

6

Philadelphia Flyers

24.8

2

92

4

8

5

Washington Capitals

24.8

1

120

4

8

5

New York Rangers

23.6

2

81

2

9

7

Nashville Predators

23.4

2

111

2

7

5

New Jersey Devils

21.9

1

57

4

6

4

Boston Bruins

21.8

1

63

3

8

4

Los Angeles Kings

21.3

2

51

6

8

8

Dallas Stars

21.1

3

59

2

7

6

Calgary Flames

21.1

4

105

1

9

3

San Jose Sharks

20.8

2

62

5

10

6

Vancouver Canucks

19.5

2

115

5

13

3

Tampa Bay Lightning

19.4

1

60

8

13

6

Colorado Avalanche

19.2

1

63

8

11

5

Minnesota Wild

18.2

3

85

2

8

2

Chicago Blackhawks

17.7

1

54

4

9

3

Montreal Canadiens

17.5

3

56

3

7

2

Ottawa Senators

17.0

1

76

7

10

2

Anaheim Ducks

16.3

2

50

5

11

2

Columbus Blue Jackets

16.1

1

104

6

13

3

Arizona Coyotes

16.1

3

77

5

10

2

New York Islanders

15.6

1

101

12

17

3

Carolina Hurricanes

15.4

2

63

8

12

4

Winnipeg Jets

14.0

1

67

7

13

2

Buffalo Sabres

14.0

1

38

4

9

2

Florida Panthers

13.4

1

58

9

14

2

Edmonton Oilers

11.7

1

45

7

15

1

This is a fanpost written by a WIIM community member. The views and opinions expressed here are that member's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the site itself.

Recent FanPosts