NHL Draft Lottery: Flawed System Cost Detroit

The Detroit Red Wings drew the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft, despite having the worst record in the NHL. Here’s why the NHL Draft Lottery needs to change.

I took a few days to cool off because if I would have written this piece minutes after the NHL Draft Lottery Friday night, it would have been littered with curse words.

It’s still how I feel inside if you’re wondering, but level heads will prevail when typing and I’m going to take the high road like Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman did when he spoke with local media via video conference following the lottery.

Because whether pick No. 1 or pick No. 4, theoretically the Red Wings will get a good prospect, and if you trust Yzerman, he’ll make sure to hit on it.

Side note: For those of you who don’t know, the Red Wings landed the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft despite having the worst record in the league. They’ll now miss out on the chance to draft generational talent Alexis Lafrenière of Rimouski Océanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

OK, back to the tirade.

Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski’s column hits it on the head when calling Friday’s NHL Draft Lottery “laughable.”

How does a team that only won 17 games last year have better odds at landing the No. 4 pick than it does No. 1? That was the case when the Red Wings had more than a 50 percent chance at No. 4 and only an 18.5 percent chance at No. 1 – although these were the highest odds.

Also, why are more than a handful of teams involved in the lottery? There was no reason why teams in the qualifying round should have been invited to the lottery in the first place. If you can win a Stanley Cup, you shouldn’t have a fallback option in Lafrenière.

That’s like a LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers team getting bounced in the first round of the NBA Playoffs later this summer and then be able to add a top talent to its already loaded roster through the NBA Draft. That’s exactly what can happen if a team like the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins or others lose in the qualifying round (spoiler alert, either the Oilers or Blackhawks will have a chance at No. 1 given their qualifying round matchup).

People will argue both sides of this. There’s the tanking element and the professionals don’t tank side. I’m here to say neither are incorrect, but what’s more frustrating is the number of teams and the structure of the odds. The Red Wings should have had a ridiculously high likelihood of landing No. 1 with a minor chance to fall.

The system needs to be fixed, because while tanking is an issue in many sports, a loss is a loss, and what Detroit fans went through this past season didn’t need to be made worse from a flawed system.