Weekend Takeaways: Fixing the draft lottery


Connor McDavid (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

BOCA RATON—Fix the draft lottery? Of course not.

But if you could…well of course you’d give Connor McDavid to the Maple Leafs.

It’s tough sometimes to discern whether the NHL is a sports league or a business, but if it were pure business, putting the game’s next attraction in its biggest market would naturally provide the biggest boost possible.

This isn’t 1985 where everybody could just sit back and laugh at Harold Ballard and the Laffs. The way the NHL’s business is set up now it benefits the owners AND players to have Toronto maximizing it’s revenue potential, which clearly isn’t the case right now.

If the Leafs make more, the pie gets bigger, and both the league and the players get half of that. With Toronto out of the playoffs again this spring, TV ratings, for starters, will take a significant hit, which hurts the Leafs, the league and hits the players in their wallets as well.

Fix the draft? Of course not. But the league’s GMs will be discussing ways to present this year’s draft lottery in a different way over the next few days, and if one of the mock scenarios were to have McDavid land in a Leaf uniform, you can bet that Dave Nonis won’t be the only executive in the room thinking that would be good for business.

Other weekend takeaways:

Maple Leafs doing the right thing: Yes, the Leafs are doing the right thing by letting this season wither. But don’t think it doesn’t come without a cost.

The utter lack of effort at times from the team’s stars has to be observed by its younger players, and how you get that experience out of the heads of players like Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner will be a major task for Brendan Shanahan and Co.

A truce in San Jose: Interesting to see Sharks owner Hasso Plattner weigh in on the Doug Wilson-Joe Thornton brouhaha on the weekend, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported.

A truce seems to have been called…for now. But after Thornton called Wilson a liar and told him to “shut his mouth,” can’t see this continuing beyond this season. But with Thornton holding the ace with his no-trade clause, how can Wilson win?

Youth overlooked in Sharks’ struggled: Many see the Sharks as an under-achieving team this year after so many playoff seasons. But the fact that San Jose is one of the youngest clubs in the NHL, and thus an inconsistent team, has been largely ignored.

Much ado about overtime: The debate over how exactly to use 3-on-3 play in NHL overtime sessions began today, and it will be interesting to see what the league proposes, and what the GMs like.

The AHL goes 4-on-4 for three minutes, and then at the first whistle, switches to 3-on-3 with OT ending after seven minutes. The result has been drastically reduced shootouts. But there are lots of other schemes, and some don’t like increasing OT to seven minutes from five.

So we’ll see what they come up with.

Making the call on video review: Moving to video review on goalie interference is likely to solve nothing and create more trouble.

Show the same review of a goalmouth play to two people, slow it down, and you’re likely to get two different opinions on whether it was goalie interference or not. The league believes it can lay down some strict guidelines that would make the system work, but there are lots of doubters.

This probably could use another year of debate and information gathering.

Belleville’s loss is Hamilton’s gain: Nice to see junior hockey back in my hometown with the news the Belleville Bulls are moving to Hamilton.

I go back to the days of the Red Wings, and then the Fincups. But since then there have been so may false-starts and failures it’s hard to believe this will work out of the renamed Copps Coliseum.

The best plan, to me, is still for owner Michael Andlauer to do a deal with McMaster University, build a new, small rink that would accommodate an OHL team, and then use it to bring back CIS hockey to Mac and establish a women’s varsity program as well. Andlauer says he’s willing to listen, but for now, he plans to renew the lease on the downtown arena for two more years after next season.

Bennett on fire: More good news for Calgary fans; Sam Bennett is absolutely sizzling since his season got off the ground in Kingston. He has 21 points in nine games, and suddenly draft eligible winger Lawson Crouse seems a lot more dangerous and is up to 28 goals in a year where some scouts have wondered about his ability to finish.

Dealing Dion: There’s widespread belief the Leafs could have done a deal with Detroit involving Dion Phaneuf at the deadline, but backed off, thinking a better trade option might emerge over the coming months. At least two other teams have since approached Toronto about a Phaneuf trade.

End of the road for Murray?: It seems unlikely Calgary will sign veteran defenceman Douglas Murray, who played in Germany this season and is with the Flames on a tryout basis these days.

It’s amazing to look back only two years to the 2013 trade deadline and remember Pittsburgh gave up two second rounders for the slow-footed rearguard. If Calgary does sign him now, he’s not eligible for the playoffs.

The best ever: Said one GM on McDavid: "We’re all starting to wonder; could he be the best player ever? It seems crazy, but then you see him play, and you wonder."

What’s in a name?: The new OHL team in Flint, Michigan will apparently be known as the Flint Firebirds. They’re moving there from Plymouth.

Financial point: There’s growing speculation the NHLPA won’t approve the 5 per cent salary cap escalator this year, which may keep the cap around $69 million. Players are growing tired of paying a 16 per cent escrow fee and not approving the escalator would likely reduce that figure, although it would also mean monies available under a higher cap to unsigned players will simply vanish.

Hardware watch: Is is too late to consider Devan Dubnyk for the Hart? Or Andrew Hammond as Vezina candidate?

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