1) The fix is out
There have been plenty of accusations over the years that the NHL Draft Lottery is fixed, including the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the chance to select Sidney Crosby in 2005. The thinking is that Crosby was needed to save a franchise which had just escaped bankruptcy and was apparently threatening to leave Pittsburgh.
However, the Penguins had the same odds of winning the top pick as a terrible New York Rangers team. If anything, the NHL would have preferred to revitalize one of the most storied franchises in league history, which is also in the biggest media market in North America.
In this respect, if the Rangers had indeed won the first overall pick, there still would have been claims that the lottery is fixed. The point is, no matter who wins the Lottery Draft each year, fans will complain and believe they are being screwed over in some may.
Which brings us to the outcome on Friday night. As far as we are concerned, the result is evidence that the NHL Lottery Draft is not fixed.
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Do you really believe the league wanted a scenario where the first overall pick was awarded to an unnamed team? In reality this was the worst possible outcome for the NHL, which still struggles to compete for respect with the NFL, NBA and MLB for fans and has the ever growing threat of MLS to now contend with. (I would go as far to write the optics are embarrassing after what happened on Friday night, for a league which can ill afford such a look.)
You now have a potential scenario where top tier teams such as the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and — ironically — the Penguins could end up with the top selection. In addition, you are inviting teams who don’t genuinely believe they can win the Stanley Cup, with the temptation to improve the long-term chances by not giving their all, getting knocked out and having the chance to draft Alexis Lafreniere.
If pushed, we will admit teams tanking is not a given; once professional hockey players are on the ice they do everything possible to win. In addition, the Stanley Cup is the holy grail for players who are generally regarding as the most humble and hard-working among the major sports leagues in North America.
Regardless, we do not buy the theory that the NHL wanted things to play out how they did on Friday night. As far as we are concerned, the fix is out; the NHL Draft Lottery is not rigged.
What was your main takeaway from an eventful Draft Lottery? Who do you predict the Buffalo Sabres will take with the eighth pick, assuming they keep hold of it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.