NHL Draft Changes: So the Rangers win the lottery and the hockey world loses its mind

alexis lafreniere
Feb 8, 2021; New York, NY, USA; Alexis Lafreniere #13 of the New York Rangers sits on the bench prior to warm-ups before the game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on February 08, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have had the luck of the ping pong balls in two successive draft lottery drawings. In 2019, they jumped from 6th to 2nd overall and selected Kaapo Kakko.

That may have irked a few teams, but the 2020 drawing saw them as an ousted team in the qualifiers land the 1st overall pick. A jump from 11th to 1st was a bridge too far. So while Alexis Lafreniere is going to star on Broadway for the next decade plus, Detroit picked 4th.

NHL proposes Draft Lottery Changes

Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings were livid behind closes doors and let the NHL know about it. Calls for change were demanded and it sounds like they are going to get what they want.

“NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirming to me that the league is working on changing the format for the draft lottery,” Pierre LeBrun said on the latest Insider Trading. “Something’s going to be presented to the Board of Governors sooner rather than later.” The expectation is that it will increase the chances of the lower teams to land the first pick.

Today that’s exactly what a memo circulated to the Board of Governors said. The next lottery drawing will only be for the top two picks. Meaning whomever finished dead last will pick no higher than third. In the 2022 Draft, teams having won the lottery twice within five years will be out of the running and no one can jump more than 10 spots.

Sounds like Yzerman got his way.


Is this about the the system or because of the New York Rangers?

new york rangers lottery
Conspiracy theorists say lottery rigged for the Rangers (NBCSN)

Listen, I am all for equity and fairness, but where was this outrage when the Carolina Hurricanes jumped from 11th to 2nd to select Andrei Svechnikov in 2018? That was preceded by the Flyers jumping from 13th to 2nd to take Nolan Patrick in 2017.

I didn’t hear a whimper when the Devils jumped from 6th to 1st overall to select Nico Hischier in 2017. Nor when the Winnipeg Jets jumped from 6th to 2nd overall to select Patrik Laine in the 2016 Draft.

It’s almost as if this is because the most financially successful franchise in the league’s most marquee market (sorry Toronto, sorry Montreal) finally got a break.

I clearly don’t remember anyone crying for the Rangers after the lockout. The team with the longest active playoff drought in the NHL missed out on Sidney Crosby. Instead he went to the Penguins who had missed the playoffs the year before but made it to the Conference Finals before that. And they still had Mario Lemieux.

Nope, not a single pundit or team executive cried foul for the Rangers on that one. The Draft Lottery is for the little guys I guess. Stay out of it New York!

The evidence that this was about the Rangers is there

nhl draft lottery rangers
Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from the circumstantial evidence just presented, Brian Burke who is now Pittsburgh’s president of hockey operations went on a rant about the Rangers winning the lottery.

On a draft day preview show, Burke was asked to comment on the masterful job that Jeff Gorton has done rebuilding the Rangers. What ensued was a whining rant for the ages.

“Oh yeah my old job! Win the draft lottery twice, move up four times once and eleven times this time!” Brian Burke sarcastically added, “Yeah, that’s a great job.”

For the record, that was the first time since 1965 that the Rangers selected 1st overall in franchise history. That didn’t matter for the sour former GM. He eventually gave the Rangers some credit but he called on the NHL to fix the draft lottery.

And here we are.

Note: This article was originally published in part at our sister site The Daily Goal Horn


Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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