The NHL Draft Lottery ain’t broke, so don’t fix it

With the season currently suspended, fans wait and see if the season will resume and how it will affect the draft lottery

The events of the past few weeks have shell-shocked the entire world as the Coronavirus has reared its ugly head. It’s now become a global pandemic and governments have been forced to shutdown schools, shopping centers, restaurants and more.

From a sports perspective, we’ve seen the NCAA cancel the March Madness tournament — a time honored tradition for decades — while the MLB has delayed the start of the regular season and both the NBA and NHL are in limbo by having their seasons suspended.

For NHL fans we had almost reached the finish line, playing roughly 80% of the schedule, closing in on the final few weeks that would ultimately decide playoff matchups come April. Earlier this week, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended that events featuring more than 50 people in a setting be cancelled for the next eight weeks. By this nature, that would mean NHL players likely will not lace up their skates until early May.

Honestly, it could be even longer. The CHL has taken the stance of cancelling the remainder of their regular season all together and a return to the ice for the playoffs seems uncertain at this point.

For now, the focus for the NHL has become what’s next? Will the season resume at some point or will it end up being cancelled without a Stanley Cup winner?

Well, there have been a few ideas bounced around in social media circles, but for the purpose of this write up, I’m going to focus on the one question that is on the minds of all Detroit Red Wings fans: what will happen with the draft lottery?

Depending on the decision that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will hand down in the coming months about the season and playoffs, this will determine the course of the draft lottery. This seems to be a hot topic of debate among fans and for Wings fans it’s possible it ends up being a punch in the gut when all said and done.

Detroit locked up the top lottery odds a couple of weeks ago (18.5% chance of landing Alexis Lafreniere), but will that hold true if the season is cancelled? One theory floating around the hockey world is that this could be treated like a standard lockout season in which all 31 teams would receive the same odds to gain that top pick.

Why would this happen? Well, this is a business and let’s be frank here, there are specific owners across the league that dictate the ongoings of the league more than others. We’ve seen this in the past when the Jeremy Jacobs of the world don’t exactly extend an olive branch when it comes to revenue sharing for the smaller market teams like Arizona and Carolina. With the season the Boston Bruins are having and the possibility they don’t get a chance to avenge last year’s Stanley Cup defeat to the St. Louis Blues, yeah, I could see some turmoil happening here.

Another idea would be to keep the lottery positions as is based on point percentage. This would be the avenue that I would hope the NHL takes (not that I’m biased or anything like that). But, seriously, with the historically bad season the Wings have had, wouldn’t it be criminal of them not to at least have the same odds of getting that top pick?

I understand there’s a chance they don’t win the draft lottery as is because if we’re talking odds, then technically the Ottawa Senators have lady luck on their side. The Sens currently hold a 25% chance of gaining the top pick thanks in part to the first-round pick they collected from the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson deal.

For me, this isn’t 2005 because the majority of the season has been played out and it wouldn’t seem right giving a team like the Bruins — the potential President’s Trophy winners — an equal shot as the Wings for that top pick.

What do you think the NHL should decided if this season is ultimately tossed down the drain? Have your say below.

If the NHL season is cancelled, how should the league decide the NHL draft lottery?

Current standings based on winning percentage1005
All 31 teams get an equal shot at the top pick10