More Ways to Improve the Draft (for the Betterment of the League)

    Hockey is the greatest sport in the world, but that doesn’t meant the way the league is run can’t be improved.  Like all matters of life, no matter how well you do something, there is always something that can be improved upon. The NHL should consider ways to improve their product by making it more fun for their fans.  A recurring theme on this site has been management, and more specifically how to reward good management rather than bad management.  The current draft format rewards teams for being awful and fails to create the parity the league so desperately claims is a goal. While the way the draft is set up works in theory, teams like the Capitals, the Oilers, and the Penguins are actually the 47% of the league Bain Capital hates.

To quote Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey:

We might not have training camp to talk about this week, but hockey still does actually exist. So does our hatred for any number of rival teams, so … well, why don’t we decide which team we, fans of the Philadelphia Flyers, hate the most?

When asked, you probably have an immediate answer: the Pittsburgh Penguins. And it’s obviously a totally fair answer. Especially in recent times, it’s tough to imagine hating any team more than we hate the Penguins. They’re the epitome of how an NHL franchise does things the wrong way, right?

  • Put together several losing seasons in a row
  • Fans disappear, team almost relocates
  • Government steps in, saves team with help on new arena deal
  • Meanwhile, losing leads to several high draft picks. Talented comes, fans return
  • Bandwagon fills, team wins Stanley Cup and gets awesome new arena

Meanwhile, our team has been competitive year in and year out (except for one down season) since the early 1990s. Our fans have never disappeared en masse and when we needed/wanted a new arena, our ownership essentially paid for the entire thing themselves without government help.  And yet despite doing everything the “right” way, we have nothing to show for it except a few losses in the Finals and some fun playoff runs.

Man.  Screw the Penguins. 

Travis brings up a great point that many of us have had over the years.  Why should a team be able to tank its way to Marc Andre-Fleury, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal in four consecutive years?  Shouldn’t there be some penalty to management and ownership for cutting costs and players to such a point that you’re one of the worst two teams in the league 5 years in a row? If someone did this in your fantasy football keeper league you’d kick him out of the league.  Similarly, why should Edmonton be able to draft Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov in consecutive years?  This goes beyond the socialism Mitt Romney hates, which is handouts to help people survive…this is taking a drug addict and giving him billions.

 I’m all for creative solutions, so if I were made president of the NHL for a day, and I couldn’t institute a draft playoff, I would pass a rule to dis-incentivize teams from losing for multiple years in order to get a cache of young stars.  For a general idea (I could be talked into different versions): If you have a top 2 pick overall pick, then the next year your pick can be no better than 5th overall.  The following year, the best pick you can receive is 10th overall.  After that third draft, you are once again eligible to have the #1 overall pick again. 

This rule would accomplish multiple goals for the league.  For starters, you’d stop having juggernaut teams built by letting a franchise wallow in its own filth. One team getting three or four or five consecutive top 5 picks doesn’t create parity, it destroys it. Instead of Edmonton having a completely stocked stable of young talent, they would have Taylor Hall, while Columbus would have the Nuge, and Montreal would have gotten Nail Yakupov. Or something along those lines.  Regardless, the point is instead of a select few teams having a bevy of young talent, the future stars and superstars of the league would be more evenly spread, leading to more parity.  I don’t see a downside, except for that fact that the Penguins would be moving to Kansas City in about 15 years.

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