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.


  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    One thing you are missing here Willis, not sure the Flames will be basement dwellers behind the Oilers. The Oilers are still the worst managed and coached team in the NHL, there is not a worse coach in the NHL than Mr. Eakins

        • The Soup Fascist

          Deryk Engelland makes these guys look like Seabrook and Keith by comparison.

          I have not looked in the rule book to see if D.E. is allowed to actually take the chair that helps him stand up on the ice with him.

          Flashback to Free Agent Frenzy …

          Bob McKenzie: “Just got confirmation that Deryk Engelland has signed in Calgary. Three years for $2.92 million. I am assuming that dollar amount is for the length of the contract …… wait ….. what?? ….. that’s per year?? Wow!”

          ’nuff said.

          • BlazingSaitls

            Why would any Oiler fan be remotely concerned about who the Calgary Flames sign and for how much? Do they not have enough to be concerned about already….let me provide a few examples;

            1) Arguably the Oilers are the worst franchise in pro-sports history!
            2) They are a dysfunctional organization that does not hold it’s leader without any accountability whatsoever!
            3) The organization is owned by a drug store business owner who since acquiring the team has the most dismal record in NHL history!
            4) The Oilers were granted 3 first overall picks in recent history and continue to be chronic losers year in and year out!
            5) The Oilers fans continually are forced to live in the past with no vision of the future as they have been in a constant stye of rebuild, 10 years and counting!
            6) NHL draft day is actually an annual highlight for the Oilers and fans!

            And they ridicule the Derek Engleland signing….hmmmmmmm? Serious issues in Oilerville continue with no end in sight! SAD.

          • Joy S. Lee

            Thanks buddy, I just had the best laugh I’ve had in days.

            When McKenzie says it, you know it’s true, and boy did he say it there! Too f’n hilarious!

  • Serious Gord

    Shut the season down a week or two early.
    This gives the playoff bound teams time to rest up.

    All remaining teams participate in a league-wide mini knockout playoff series to determine draft position.

    Generates excitement leading up to the main playoffs.

    Gives the bottom feeders some home “playoff” games.

    Fans will love it.

    Don’t ask me for more details. I have none.

    • Dan 1919

      The thing about having NHL players competing solely to draft some 18year old kid is that the players won’t be completely vested in the idea.

      Grown men, NHL players play to win the cup.

      Having them compete for an 18 year old boy would be taken as seriously as the All-Star Game, only without the all stars, and with zero shi*s given, rather than 2.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Not to push my idea (which my possibly be one of the worst ideas in all of mankind), but what about the players on teams that are basically eliminated by Halloween? What are they playing for?

        I don’t disagree with your comment, but an alternative thought might be:

        “Competitive NHL players faced with the embarrassment and disappointment of missing the playoffs might like a chance to go out of season on a high note by winning the competition for that 18-year-old. (Which, by the way, is a better prize than every team IN THE PLAYOFFS will win, with the exception of the cup winner.)”