Wednesday, March 14, 2007


NHL: New Draft Changes are in Order

by Jes

The NHL decided to make some changes to the Entry Draft right out of the radar of most every hockey fan and expert.

From TSN:
Sources tell TSN that NHL teams have voted 23-6 (with one abstention) in favor of introducing a ranking system that places a greater emphasis on playoff performance than regular season results.

Under the existing format, non-playoff teams were placed one through 14 with the lowest regular-season point totals getting the higher pick in the draft, subject to the draft lottery which allows the winning non-playoff team to move up as many as four places.

The remaining 16 teams were seeded 15 through 30 based on inverse order of regular-season finish with one exception - the Stanley Cup-winning team automatically received the 30th and final pick of the first round.

The new format will work as follows:

- The 14 non-playoff teams will be seeded in inverse order of regular-season finish, just as they used to be, with the draft lottery remaining the same.

- Teams that lose in the first round of the playoffs, except those that won regular-season division titles, will be slotted next in inverse order of regular-season point totals.

- Regular-season division winners that did not advance to the Conference finals will be slotted next, in inverse order of regular-season point totals.

- Teams that make the Conference finals will be slotted next, in inverse order of regular-season point totals.

- The two teams that make it to the Stanley Cup final will get the final two picks - No. 29 for the Cup finalist and No. 30 for the Cup champion.

It is a little more difficult to explain than it was, but the basic premise is the farther a team proceeds in the playoffs, the later it will pick in the entry draft.

The concept was initially proposed by the Detroit Red Wings, who argue that playoff success is the true measure of a team's success in any given year and the draft order should reflect that.
Could it be the Red Wings proposed this format because they often choke in the early rounds and want a good draft position for themselves? It's not as if they need it! Give them all of their picks in the 5th round and they'd be just fine.

I don't mind that a team's performance in the playoffs has a greater importance for the draft. Why should a 15th overall team finish as a Stanley Cup finalist and then draft in the middle of each round? On the other hand, you can get a powerhouse team that has one bad playoff round, and then they get a plum draft position. Of course, the mid-to-late first round isn't nearly as important as the Top 10 picks, so this won't exactly tilt the Earth's axis.

So, who voted against the change? I'm always curious as the reasons why particular teams go against the grain

Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks - Worried about poor draft position after a bad playoff round?
New York Islanders - Would this affect them anyway?
Florida Panthers - Given their lack of playoff success, this ruling won't affect them for years to come.
Washington Capitals - Same thing.
Minnesota Wild - Probably don't want to be penalized for good playoff showings?

Well, what's done is done and now teams can be somewhat compensated for playoff choke. To those who value the playoffs more than the regular season, the new system should really emphasize that fact.

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This is not unlike the NFL, where the Super Bowl champ always drafts last (32nd)...

The Stanley Cup winner has been drafting last for at least the past 2 drafts, but the other playoff contenders always drafted based on where they finished in the regular season standings. Now, all playoff teams will have their draft order set based on their playoff success with the regular season record as a mini tiebreaker of sorts.
You're more or less right about Buffalo's reasoning. Darcy Regier has said he thinks the regular season record is more representative of the overall strength of an organization than a playoff run possibly based on one or two players getting hot.
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