Ways to Improve the NHL Draft Lottery (by Keeping Edmonton from Winning)

Watching the NHL Draft Lottery has become a beloved yearly tradition. What sort of face will NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly make this time when the Oilers “inexplicably” win it? How sad will this year’s top prospect look when he finds out he’s doomed to wallow in a sea of other top five picks on bottom five teams? Which team’s fans will we all laugh at on Twitter when they drop to a worse lottery spot?

Okay, it’s not actually that exciting. To be perfectly honest, we all just expect the Oilers to pick first overall again, and ruin whatever 18-year-old prodigy is unfortunate enough to be ranked highest this year. Remember how optimistic Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov were? Yeah. It’s sad.

In light of all this, and the fact that the Oilers are terrible (and thus eligible for a top spot yet again, though Toronto fans are licking their lips), here’s an idea: let’s change it up. Let’s do something drastic. Let’s end the pattern of tanking that makes this lottery so predictable and dumb.

Here are four ideas better than the draft lottery that are guaranteed to make things loads of fun for everyone–or, more specifically, to prevent Edmonton from picking first overall ever again.

IDEA 1: Relegation (well, sort of)

While the playoffs are going on, and the good teams are playing for the Stanley Cup, why not have a relegation-style bracket to determine the draft order? Much like the playoffs, the regular season would determine the seeding, and the team that wins at losing gets the first overall pick. You could even call it March Sadness, in April.

Plus, it means more hockey for everyone. Why not?

ODDS OF EDMONTON WINNING: Low. They might still finish top 10, but this still makes a first-overall finish a lot less likely–because it requires winning.

IDEA 2: Random Animal Selection

We’ve seen this before, with Paul the Octopus making World Cup predictions, or numerous March Madness brackets selected by cats or whatever. Why not the NHL draft? Let’s make it completely random. “Borrow” Zenon Konopka’s rabbit out of the Minnesota locker room and put 30 pieces of lettuce on 30 NHL logos; the order Hoppy eats them in – there’s your draft order.

ODDS OF EDMONTON WINNING: Low. Lower than relegation, but then again, Edmonton seems to already have a lottery rabbit’s foot.

IDEA 3: Hunger Games

This could go one of two ways: either the teams not in the playoffs participate, or everyone participates. I prefer the former because it’s more punitive. We drop 14 NHL GMs into a survival situation and the last one standing gets the first overall pick!

Of course we’d have to find 13 new GMs every year…but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

ODDS OF EDMONTON WINNING: Not bad. I don’t know, Peter Chiarelli’s pretty scrappy. The odds might be in Edmonton’s favor here.

IDEA 4: Chaos Draft

For the vindictive among us, this is the best of all four ideas. Here’s how it works: during preseason, teams “draft” another team that they think is going to finish first overall in the standings that year. Teams cannot pick themselves. Whatever team you select, wherever they actually finish, that’s your draft pick.

Can you imagine the drama, how catty it would get? “Oh, that’s what you think of us? Well, good luck doing any trades in Winnipeg, buddy!” What if a team purposely tanked just because it was drafted by one of its rivals? Can you imagine how pissed Leafs fans would be if they’d selected the Habs this year? The hilarity alone would make this pretty worth it.

ODDS OF EDMONTON WINNING: Extremely low. Well, since they can’t pick themselves…


Sarah Connors is a hockey writer with plenty of other ideas up her sleeve. Ask her about them on Twitter.