- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
The NHL board of governors has approved new rules for the NHL draft lottery that will help last-place teams but restrict perpetual losers from winning multiple lotteries, a source confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.
The rules will be implemented beginning with the 2022 lottery. TSN was first to report the approval.
The biggest change to the current system is that the lottery will only determine the first two picks in the draft, rather than having three different lotteries for the first three picks.
This change was influenced by the 2020 lottery, in which the Detroit Red Wings — who had the worst record in the league (17-49-5) and the best odds for the first overall pick (18.5%) — ended up picking fourth overall as the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators won the lotteries for the first three picks.
“There are some clubs who think it’s important that the teams that are struggling most get the most help. There are other teams that think there’s nothing wrong with the present system at all,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said recently. “Our competitive balance is so extraordinary that some clubs feel that the difference between a team that misses the playoffs and a team that really misses the playoffs really isn’t all that great. In order to try and reconcile those competing views, we thought maybe a little bit of a tweak [was necessary].”
Another change to the draft lottery is that teams can only move up a maximum of 10 sports by winning one of the two lotteries. Hence, only 11 of the 16 teams that miss the playoffs will be eligible for the first overall pick.
Finally, the NHL ruled that a franchise can win the lottery no more than twice in a five-year span. That isn’t exclusive to the first overall pick: It means a team can’t advance by reason of lottery win more than twice in a five-year span.
The Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils have been the poster franchises for this rule tweak, having each won the lottery three times since 2010.
“I don’t believe there’s tanking in the game. I think our players and our organizations, our coaches are too professional. But there’s always speculation,” Bettman said recently.
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