According to Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic, the NHL Board of Governors has approved changes to the NHL draft lottery starting in 2021.

The NHL is changing the lottery rules again. That’s why it’s interesting for the Sabres to be profitable.

Like all of The Athletic’s titles, it’s free and open to all.

– John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) March 23, 2021

The NHL seems to be reacting to the results of the lottery for the 2020 draft, with the New York Rangers, a major contender for the playoffs, stealing the first pick. Many felt that the union had not done a good job with the lottery, which seems to be a response to the criticisms made.

The first change in the lottery is a reduction in the number of pounds, from three pounds to two pounds. Two other approved changes will not take effect until 2022, including limiting a team’s jump to 10 lottery spots and limiting a team’s ability to earn a lottery spot to five years. Teams may only win the lottery twice in five seasons.

As mentioned above, the last two amendments will not take effect until 2022. Instead of giving all 15 teams a chance at the draw, now only 11 teams have a chance at first place.

According to The Athletic’s report, the reason for the change is to favor teams that are just downright bad. However, a team that would benefit from these changes was the very reason for the extended draw.

After a tanking season for the Buffalo Sabres in the 2014-15 season, the league decided to expand the draft by one to three lottery spots to force teams not to tank. The Sabres haven’t won yet this season. More recently, the Detroit Red Wings have suffered from the lottery structure. The Red Wings have lost eight spots in the last four draws, including fourth place in 2020 after the league’s worst record. If correct, this format will be changed. =


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Personally, I don’t think this is the best scenario for the NHL lottery as a whole. The lottery gives a team that isn’t in the final five the chance to find a player every year that can change the game. A perfect example of this is the Blackhawks bringing in Kirby Dach in the 2019 NHL Draft after making it to their third round.

Beat writers Max Bultmann and John Vogl have the same thoughts as me. You can read their comments in The Athletic’s article on the subject. However, both argue that the restrictions could hurt teams that are really bad, as they can only get a lottery pick in two out of five seasons. If so, these teams need to be in the draw if they want any chance of making a quick return to the NHL.

Honestly: Is there any guarantee that the teams in the bottom two or three spots will be eligible for selection on a regular basis? To be fair, lately the lottery balls have been bouncing this way, creating an anomaly in the odds. Presumably, as time goes on, the odds will again favor the worse teams.

Either way, the league has made its decision, and it will likely provide some excitement in the NHL draft lottery. But we’ll see if a quick change in the league really helps the teams that really need help.

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