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The draft lottery is objectively bad and should be replaced

April 10, 2019, 12:39 PM ET [778 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
There isn’t much to report on the Penguins and Islanders today. The Penguins had their morning skate and the information everybody is waiting for isn’t going to come until later tonight when the Penguins tweet out their lineup. The defensemen did not go through line rushes. We will have to wait to find out who is being scratched for Jack Johnson. Chances are it is Brian Dumoulin who has a possibility of missing Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. If he does play look for Marcus Pettersson or Olli Maatta to take the fall for Johnson.

Because of the lack of new information about Game 1 I am going to focus on the events of last night instead, the NHL draft lottery. There was one result nobody in the hockey community wanted to see and thankfully it didn’t happen. Edmonton did not win the lottery and the hockey world let out a sigh of relief. The Taylor Hall trade keeps giving the Oilers the middle finger

The Metropolitan Division will be getting the two best players in the draft with New Jersey and Ray Shero earning the top pick for the second time in three years and Rangers earning their first ever top three pick(!) landing in the second slot. Both teams struggled this year and will be rewarded for it Chicago getting inside of the top two would have been very annoying, I can’t lie.

I hate the draft lottery. This is not the same as being anti-tank because you have to do what you have to do in order to try and get the best available players in the draft. It’s a system that encourages smart teams to intentionally lose and cause their fans to root against their own team. It’s dumb, but the current reality. I don’t fault the teams, I fault the league.

One of two things need to happen. The first is gold drafting:

This system is where a team starts to bank standings points towards the first overall pick after they are statistically ineligible for the playoffs. This encourages teams to keep winning so their fans are not actively rooting against their own team and the teams aren’t intentionally losing for a low percentage play at the top pick. This is an entertainment product and trying to win produces the best entertainment.

I happen to like a Micah Blake McCurdy suggestion about the gold plan. He suggests that teams should be allowed to declare themselves out of the playoff hunt and thus start banking points towards the draft pick when they make that declaration. I would amend this to not let teams declare themselves out of the playoffs until at least January first so teams don’t just declare in October. I like this. It would put general managers on the spot to publicly declare giving up on the playoffs and playing for the pick. We know how general managers love to be bold and public about it…

The other option, and more controversial one, is to eliminate the entry draft altogether.

Before you go and get up in arms about eliminating the draft it will not by design allow all the prospects to go to the same teams. The NHL has a hard salary cap. If you eliminate the draft and make all incoming prospects UFA’s they are allowed to sign for market value. Players like Jack Hughes are going to cost legit money and that money will count against the cap. The same teams can’t cash out year after year because there is only so much money you can spend in a hard cap system. The players aren’t going to turn down their market value to all go to the same teams on what would amount to the old ELC contracts.

No draft also means players can own their own career paths which is something incredibly relevant as we see Connor McDavid rotting away in Edmonton. A fate he did not want or deserve. I understand that the no entry draft idea is an extreme position and people will have a knee-jerk reaction to not liking it. I don’t know how people can think it isn’t better than this current system which is complete rubbish, intentionally losing so you MAYBE get the player you covet. It’s garbage for the teams, players, and fans.

For those that love the draft as an event I bring you prospect UFA day. Instead of having the draft you would have a day before normal free agency commences where all eligible prospects are able to sign with the teams of their choosing. The buzz around this day and coverage would surpass the regular draft. All 30 teams would have a prime interest in this day. The teams that spend money on tracking player stats in juniors, college, and overseas would have a leg up as they should. The smart teams would be rewarded, like they should.

I would like to see the gold draft plan in action before the elimination of the draft. Both are better than the status quo. The only arguments against these changes are that people are used to the current setup and don’t like change. The draft lottery sucks, but if things aren't going to change you might want to trade for Taylor Hall, the results speak for themselves.

Thanks for reading!
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