NHL opts against changing current draft lottery format

Damien Cox weighed in with the Hockey Central crew on how expansion and an expansion draft would work and whether it is worth it for expansion teams to be competitive in their first few years.

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Edmonton Oilers are just two points ahead of the last-place Toronto Maple Leafs entering action Wednesday and stand a fair chance of landing the first overall pick for the fifth time in seven years.

But evidently there’s no appetite amongst the league’s GMs to tweak the rules regarding the draft lottery.

"There was no sentiment to make a change right now," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said following the third and final day of the GM’s meetings.

The NHL shifted the lottery system two years ago, implementing changes that lowered the odds of lottery success for the league’s worst teams. The process this year will see three lotteries performed for the top three picks.

"There’s no incentive to lose now," said Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "They’re used to be.

"Now the odds are not necessarily in your favour. You get (a) 20 per cent chance. The Toronto Maple Leafs, if they happen to be the (last-place) team, they have 20 per cent chance only. I think anybody that questions it now is wrong."

Some general managers, including St. Louis’s Doug Armstrong, expressed interest in devising a rule that prevented teams not last in the standings from winning the draft lottery multiple times in a short period.

"The theory is that if you finish last you always have a chance to win the lottery," Armstrong told PostMedia. "But if you didn’t finish last and win the lottery, you can’t do it again for another five years."

That would have limited future scenarios such as the one that saw the Oilers, third-last overall last season, land the top prize in Connor McDavid in 2015 after picking first in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

The plan seemingly didn’t gather much support. That could change, though, if Edmonton happens to land the first overall pick again this year with another prize in Auston Matthews available.

"Things like that happen when you have a lottery," Bettman concluded.

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