The NHL proposed three significant changes to the Lottery Draft Process and recently was approved by the NHL Board of Governors. How could this affect the Minnesota Wild?
On February 12th, we learned via Pierre LeBrun that the NHL was considering changes to the Draft Lottery system. Those changes would include:
- The number of “lottery draws” reduced from three to two picks, meaning, if the team that finishes last in the league doesn’t win the lottery, they’ll pick 3rd overall instead of 4th
- Starting in 2022 (so not this upcoming draft lottery), the max number of places a team can move up is ten places, meaning the first overall pick can only be won by eleven possible teams, rather than the current sixteen.
- Also starting in 2022, no team can win the lottery more than twice in a five-year period.
Just this week, the NHL Board of Governors approved of these changes.
How does this affect the Minnesota Wild right now?
Well, in reality, it doesn’t look like it is going to do much to hurt them as it stands now.
Looking at where the Wild are in the standings now, Minnesota is currently 3rd in the division sitting two points behind the Colorado Avalanche and four points behind the Vegas Golden Knights, who also have a game in hand on the Wild. Behind them sits the St. Louis Blues, who are four points behind and have played one more game than Minnesota.
(By the way, keep an eye on the Kings. They are currently sixth in the division but have games in hand on the Blues and the Arizona Coyotes and have been playing hot hockey as of late.)
Also worthy of consideration is the Pittsburgh Penguins First Round pick that was deferred to this season from the Jason Zucker trade. For those that care to remember the deal was:
Checking in on the Pittsburgh Penguins, they are also currently 3rd in the division. They are two points behind the Capitals in 2nd (but Pens have played two more games than them) and four points behind the Isles in 1st. In fourth sits the Bruins, six points behind Pittsburgh with five games in hand. Fifth and outside the playoffs, sits the Flyers, who are eight points behind the Penguins with two games in hand.
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Just given the composition of the East, a quality team is going to miss the playoffs. Right now, it looks like it could be the Philadelphia Flyers who have been freefalling in March, currently 4-9 on the month.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Boston Bruins run down and overtake the Pittsburgh Penguins with the games in hand they have, the talent on the roster, and some of the foes they face are weaker (Buffalo and Devils are three of the next four).
That still requires the Philadelphia Flyers to turn the ship around and with the Superstar talent the Penguins have, it might be tough to run them down.
So with four teams making the playoffs this year, barring a cataclysmic end to the season, the Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins are both likely going to make the postseason, meaning they will not be participating in the Lottery in the upcoming draft.
Where this would affect the Minnesota Wild is if they and/or the Pittsburgh Penguins were to experience the cataclysmic end to the season and miss the playoffs entirely. This puts the Wild/Pens/both into the lottery with the opportunity to win a lottery pick. The difference now is that there are only two picks to win, First or Second, which means a less likely chance to win.
Just last offseason, in Phase 1 of the Lottery Draft (the phase that operated more like a normal lottery draft), the selection that generated the Placeholder team that won the First Overall pick was the 20th placed team (12th from the bottom), which was the Winnipeg Jets. Of course, that would still mean the second phase had to occur, leading to the Rangers winning the equal 12.5% chance for the first overall pick.
So if the Penguins, Wild, or both miss the playoffs, then the new format of the Lottery Draft hurts them. Remember, the only change for this upcoming season is the number of lottery winners. With the success both have had in the season thus far, I expect this to not truly be an issue.