Your Call: Would you change the NHL Draft Lottery system?

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TSN.ca Staff
4/10/2012 3:09:12 PM
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For the 14 NHL teams not getting set for a playoff series, the attention now shifts to the bouncing ping pong balls at the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery on TSN Tuesday night.

The current lottery is a weighted system that determines the order of the first 14 selections in the draft.

However, some would say the current lottery system could be improved. So we ask you, should the NHL Draft Lottery stay the same or does it need to be changed? It's Your Call.

As it stands, all 14 teams that missed the playoffs have a shot at winning the lottery with one major qualifier. Per NHL rules, the lottery winning team can only move up a maximum of four spots.

Thus, the only teams with a chance at gaining the top choice are the five teams with the lowest regular-season point totals. The current setup also dictates that no team can move down further than one spot after the Draft Lottery.

As a result, the Blue Jackets, who finished with the fewest points in the league this year, have nearly a 50/50 chance of getting the first pick and can do no worse than second overall. They have a 25% of winning the lottery but since none of the teams outside the bottom five can move up to first, they actually have a 48.2% chance of getting the top pick.

For those who want to see the system re-tooled, one of their biggest arguments is that the current setup rewards failure. The worse you finish, the better chance you have at picking up a top selection in the draft.

Others say the lottery leaves teams that just miss out on the playoffs, like the Calgary Flames who have finished 10th, 10th and 9th in the West the last three seasons, in a sort of purgatory where you receive neither the added revenue of the playoffs nor a chance at a high selection to improve your club.

However, the backers of the current system argue that it promotes parity in the league and gives the NHL's worst teams an opportunity to improve quickly through the draft and get back into the playoffs.

There are several different ideas out there that have been put forward on how to change the lottery system that range from slight tweaks on the current model to complete overhauls to getting rid of it altogether. We'll break down four of our favourite 'fixes' in no particular order.

The NBA Model

Maybe not the best way to go since NBA fans have been trying to figure out a way to re-tool their own system for years as well, but it would present a few new wrinkles to the NHL system.

Like the NHL, all 14 non-playoff teams are entered in the lottery. However in the NBA, the lottery determines not only the top pick, but the first three selections.

Every team in the lottery also has at least a shot at the first pick. The team with the worst record has the best chance at the first pick (25%) with each subsequent team's chances at the top selection diminishing down to the team that finished closest to making the playoffs (0.5%).

After the top three selections are determined the 11 remaining teams will draft in reverse order of their finish in the standings. This means that no team can drop more than three spots.

The Non-Weighted Model

The basic idea here is that every team that misses the playoffs has an equal shot at winning the first overall pick. If you finish 17th through 30th you get one ball with your name on it and if that ball is chosen you get to pick first.

Variations of this type of lottery could have the draw being used to determine more picks than simply the first. You could have the lottery determine the top three selections, or perhaps even the entire first 14.

The big positive of this type of lottery would be its ability to create excitement amongst all 14 fan bases deprived of the playoffs.

A Lottery with an Asterisk

In this scenario, the team that finishes with the highest point total among those that missed the playoffs is awarded with the first overall pick and the remaining 13 teams take part in the lottery to determine who gets the second pick and so on. 

The theory here is that you reward winning and every team will be forced to try their hardest all the way to the final game of the season. The Flames would love this model because they would have the first shot at consensus first pick Nail Yakupov this year.

The danger may be the possibility of teams like the San Jose Sharks or Washington Capitals, who almost missed the playoffs, adding a potential superstar to an underachieving team that was already expected to be a Cup contender.

The Winning Once You're Out Theory

This setup would see the team that wins the most games after they have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs given the first pick.

The theory here is that the team with the worst record is the team that will be eliminated first. Consequently, that team will also get the most chances to pile up post-elimination wins (you could even call them PEWs). If the teams eliminated first take advantage of their PEW opportunities, they will be rewarded with a better pick. This system discourages tanking while also giving the worst teams an advantage towards earning the first pick.
However, under the current NHL points system, there are so many teams that are not mathematically eliminated until there are very few games remaining which could dampen the excitement factor for such a theory.

There you have it, four potential fixes to the NHL Draft Lottery.

Is one these solutions the best way to fix the lottery? Is an entirely different shake-up what is needed? Should the lottery remain as it is? Or do you think the last-place team should always get the first overall pick?

As always, it's Your Call.

NHL Draft Lottery (Photo: Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
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