RIP compensatory draft picks

Ladies and gentlemen … the compensatory pick is dead.

READ: Bettman was right, executive compensation policy didn’t work

The short-lived idea of NHL teams compensating their competitors for pilfering execs and coaches has run its course. As Elliotte Friedman reported, the idea’s eviction date is January 1st. Before that time arrives, let’s take a look back at some of the best compensatory draft picks awarded over the past few months, and by “some of the best” I mean all of them, because there were only seven.


The Oilers won the 2015 Draft Lottery on April 18, 2015. When you land the golden ticket to secure Connor McDavid as the cornerstone of your franchise, it’s easy to throw around the rest of your draft picks like they’re bills in a rap video. Less than one week after the Oilers won the McDavid sweepstakes, they hired former Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, and in doing so, became the first team to have to surrender a draft pick in exchange for an executive under the new rules.

The compensation the Oilers must pay for Chiarelli: A second-round pick in either 2016 or 2017. If you’re an optimist, you can say the Oilers currently sit tied for 26th in the NHL. If you look at the standings, the Oilers in fact sit 27th. A pessimist could even say that the Oilers are just two points up on dead last. Will the Oilers decide to give Boston their 2016 second-rounder if it ends up being between 31st and 35th overall or will they wait for 2017?

Ironically, that choice is for Peter Chiarelli to make.

Mike Babcock. (Dave Reginek/Getty)


Once the dust settled on the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, Babwatch kicked into overdrive.

Several teams were said to be close to landing the two-time Olympic gold medalist. Some thought the Red Wings would be able to retain him. Tim Murray and the Buffalo Sabres sure seemed like they thought they had a good chance at signing Babcock, too. Ultimately, Brendan Shanahan and the Toronto Maple Leafs metaphorically walked Babcock into that giant treasure cave shaped like a tiger’s head from Aladdin and signed him to an eight-year, $50-million contract.

While the Red Wings lost the coach that helped them win the 2008 Stanley Cup, they didn’t leave the situation empty handed. As compensation, the Leafs have to give the Red Wings a third-round pick in either 2015, 2016, or 2017. The Leafs already declined to surrender their 2015 third (used to select Andrew Nielsen) so they will need to choose between 2016 and 2017.


This is one well-traveled draft pick. Get this:

  • The New York Islanders trade Andrey Pedan to the Vancouver Canucks for Alexandre Mallet and Vancouver’s third in 2016.
  • The New York Islanders trade Chad Johnson and Vancouver’s third in 2016 to the Buffalo Sabres for Michael Neuvirth.
  • The Buffalo Sabres send Vancouver’s third in 2016 to the Pittsburgh Penguins as compensation for head coach Dan Bylsma.
  • The Vancouver Canucks trade Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and the Anaheim Ducks’ second in 2016 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Brandon Sutter and – wait for it – Vancouver’s own third-rounder in 2016.


If compensatory picks were to prevent teams from “stealing” coaches or executives, this might have been the first real example of that.

With a head coaching vacancy in New Jersey, the Devils decided to scoop up John Hynes from the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. As a result, the Devils were to compensate the Penguins with their third round selection in this upcoming draft in 2016.

So does this mean the Penguins already have two picks in the third round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft? Nope.

Pittsburgh decided to flip this pick from the Devils to the Toronto Maple Leafs as one of the many components of the complicated Phil Kessel trade, which even still has several conditional picks up in the air. This gives Toronto as many as 11 picks so far in the next draft. I suggest you visit to General Fanager and look down the left side of the Leafs’ team page for more detail on those picks. It really is a carnival.


With both Mike Babcock and Dan Bylsma out of the NHL’s head coaching pool, Todd McLellan was still available and in high demand. The Edmonton Oilers snagged him as part of their rebuild and the San Jose Sharks wanted compensation. The only problem was that the Oilers didn’t have a third round pick to give the Sharks. After some help from General Fanager himself, here is the agreement that the Sharks and Oilers came to:

Oilers, Sharks agreement


Ultimately, the Oilers helped the Sharks draft American goalie Mike Robinson this past June. To read the full explanation General Fanager laid out for compensation, click here.


I remember the day “Loophole Lou” became the Leafs’ GM. It was such a whirlwind that many people, including some NHL reporters, didn’t even know Lamoriello had left his position with the Devils before he had signed on to manage the Leafs.

For the Devils’ troubles, they are owed a third-round pick from the Leafs in either the 2016, 2017, or 2018 NHL Entry Drafts. For those keeping score at home, that’s now two different third-rounders the Leafs must give up on between the Babcock and Lamoriello signing.

My question is this: The Leafs know they have to give up a third-rounder at some point. Between the Devils and Red Wings, how does Toronto decide who to compensate first? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox tell me that there is no precedence and Toronto can choose who gets what. Strange situation, I know. Also strange is that just like Chiarelli in Edmonton, Lamoriello may end up surrendering the very draft pick used as compensation for himself.

My head hurts. Last one.


John Tortorella signed a five-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2013 offseason. There were brawls, he tried to fight Bob Hartley, the Canucks weren’t that good, and he was fired after just one season.

Fast forward to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ disastrous 0-7 start to this season. Columbus decided to fire their head coach Todd Richards and fill the vacancy with the man they call Torts. As a result, the Blue Jackets owe the Canucks a second-round pick in either 2016, 2017, or 2018.

Straight up – I thought this decision was nuts. I wasn’t on board with firing Todd Richards just because Sergei Bobrovsky was in a slump. I was even less on board with surrendering a second-rounder to replace Richards. The fact that the coach they chose to replace Richards was John Tortorella was the icing on that nutty cake. Low and behold, Columbus is 11-9-1 since Tortorella was hired; a winning record. Maybe I’m the one who’s nuts.

There you have it. Unless somebody decides to surrender a draft choice sometime in the next three weeks, these will end up being the only seven draft picks awarded as compensation for a coach or executive.

Now we wait to say which one of these surrendered draft picks turns out to become a generational superstar.

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