NHL changes draft lottery rules, which should work nicely for the Oilers

Steve Tambellini (2)

There was no shortage of jokes on Wednesday that the NHL’s fancy new draft lottery rules were a direct result of the Oilers’ unmatched ability to land No. 1 picks.

That’s debatable. What isn’t debatable is that the timing of the change could not possibly be better for Edmonton.

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The New Lottery Rules


The NHL unveiled a two-year plan that will see the chances of a really bad team coming away with the first overall pick fall significantly. The full explanation is here, but we can sum it up shortly in two bullet points:

  • In 2014, there was a 58 percent chance that a team ranked 28th or lower in the NHL would pick first overall. In 2015 that falls to 45 percent, meaning that more than half the time we should expect to see a team outside the bottom three pick first overall.
  • In 2016, another change kicks in: lotteries for the first, second and third overall picks, meaning that the worst team in the NHL is not guaranteed a pick higher than fourth overall.

On the whole, the new rule changes are good; they make tanking less appealing because the incentive to fall from 12th to 14th in the West is much smaller and teams tend to respond to incentives.

I’d still rather see the league employ Adam Gold’s system – which would reward teams for winning by awarding the first overall pick to the team with the most points after it was eliminated from the playoffs (bad teams would have more games to pick up points, but would still have incentive to keep winning) – because it’s much more exciting for a fan of a terrible team.

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On the other hand, Gold’s system would put a major damper on the trade deadline, and the fix the league has settled on should help significantly.

What it means for Edmonton


My belief – given the team’s summer moves and its collection of young talent – is that the Oilers are close to turning the corner and putting some space between themselves and the bottom of the league. I’m not talking about the playoffs (the situation at centre is far too uncertain) but I am talking about passing two or three (or maybe even four!) teams in the Western standings.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that such a belief is justified. If so, these new rules came in at a perfect time for Edmonton; they’ll be moving out of the worst positions in the league standings just as those positions become less valuable.

Also beneficial to the Oilers: the changes aren’t likely to help the Calgary Flames, a team that looks like a plausible basement dweller for the next few seasons. 

More importantly, both for the Oilers and for teams around the NHL, it makes being a team on the playoff bubble much easier.

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For years, Edmonton was just bad enough to be in the fight for a playoff spot to the bitter end but never make headway up the standings while simultaneously being just good enough to never get a shot at the elite talent at the top of the draft. Starting in 2016, a team like that will have a legitimate (if not overwhelming) shot at a top-three pick; they won’t have to make the agonizing choice between trying to improve or tearing down and starting anew.


  • I’m reading that when PIT comes to Calgary next year the Flames will be having a special ceremony where they retire Lee Stempniak’s teeth. Special presenter will be Andrew Ference.

    Oh wait, that already happened.

    • BlazingSaitls

      Since you seem to love the cheap shot artists, you’re probably also thrilled with Kassian’s facial reconstruction last Fall. When that happens again this Fall, you got anyone that’s going to step up and do something about it?

  • I can only imagine how much arrogance we would have if we could actually win some games!! We have sucked on the ice for what feels like forever and our management group is the most inept of all time and has become the laughing stock of the league. Not only is it painful to be an oiler fan it is now emberassing too.

  • Seanaconda

    Do Flames fans really not know how hard up they are for the foreseeable future? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha I dont believe it hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahaahahahahahaa LOL LOL LOL

      • BlazingSaitls

        Yeah I’m laughing too…. HaHaHaHaHaHaHa…. Nice thing about a rebuild is the expectations are low, so its sweet when we see the whole team show improvement, a solid work ethic and identity is established and we end up WAAAY ahead of other LOSER (supposedly up and coming?) organizations like the Oilers.

  • Sevenseven

    Lol looks like my idle threat to go over to flames nation drew out all the Flamers. Hiller=Khabibulan. Flames prospects in big roles too soon. Flames big trade is for smid lol. Lost kipper for nothing. Sure learned alot from the oilers rebuild. Im sure you guys will be back in the playoff race so much sooner!

    • BlazingSaitls

      Flames always were a few steps behind. All the credit in the world to the ’89 flames. Al MacInnis, Gary Suter, Theo, Doug, Peplinski, McDonald, Roberts, Otto, Nieuwendyk.

      A frick’n awesome team, but still a few steps behind the Oilers.

      Now the Flames have Brad Treliving. He is the second coming on Steve Tambellini. Like I said, a few steps behind.

      Who knows, Tambelly may not know much but he knows how to getch’ya #1 picks. Sometimes a few steps behind is good enough. If Flames get McJebus slap me in the face for writing this.