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NHL Draft Lottery Is Tonight; How It Came About



Nhl draft lottery

The NHL will hold its annual Draft Lottery tonight with 11 teams hoping to jump up to the top pick and the right to select Boston University forward Macklin Celebrini.

The lottery will be held at 6:30 tonight on ESPN, with the San Jose Sharks holding the best odds (18.5 percent) although 10 other teams could find themselves moving all the way up to the top position.

The Chicago Blackhawks, who finished just above the Sharks during the regular season, have the second-best odds at 13.5 percent; Anaheim Ducks is third at 11.5 percent.

So, how did we come to having a draft lottery?

In 1963, the NHL instituted an amateur draft.

Before that, teams sponsored their junior teams and competed for players.

For example, everyone knew Bobby Orr would become a Bruin when he signed with the Oshawa Generals of the OHA at age 15.

By the 1967 expansion, NHL teams could no longer sponsor junior teams.

Concurrently, teams no longer had territorial rights to players residing in or near their cities.

In the Original Six era, this gave the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs an incredible advantage, which is why the “Flying Frenchmen” were always stacked with top French-Canadien players.

Nhl draft lottery

The Amateur Draft was renamed the Entry Draft in 1980 when it became a public event.

Before that, it was operated over the phone from the league offices in Montreal.

In 1984, there was a late-season game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

It happened at a time when the team with the fewest points in a season was entitled to the first overall draft pick.

The word ‘tank’ is used here, because that year, the top amateur was Mario Lemieux.

I wouldn’t say that this event triggered the change to a lottery, which began 11 years later, but events like this were definitely considered.

Here is an excerpt of a story I wrote about that game in 1984:

It was late in the 1983-84 season. Next to the final game. In a seemingly non-strategic contest, the Rangers defeated the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins 6-4 in a fight-filled game. 

The Pens sat many of their regulars and used their fourth-string goalie.

Postgame in the Pens dressing room was a scene I’m sorry to say I haven’t forgotten. A team that lost its fifth consecutive game should be downtrodden, but this was far from the case: It was a party-like atmosphere. 

Pittsburgh had just earned the dubious distinction of clinching last place in the NHL and would get the first draft pick which just happened to be Mario Lemieux. 

I would never use the T-word regarding professional athletes, but this was a clear case of a team rewarded for a less-than-professional effort. 

Thankfully, the NHL recognized a flaw in the system and made failure less rewarding by instituting the draft lottery.

By the way, Pittsburgh’s general manager was Eddie Johnston and the Pens were coached by Lou Angotti.

Looks like their plan worked.

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Cool stuff, I didn’t know alot of this, what hapoened if a coveted guy lived in a town between two nhl cites, any two? Did the owners play rock, scissors, paper?

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