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The NHL is looking at adjustments to its draft lottery process that would allow more teams potentially to obtain top draft picks, a source said.
The topic came up during the recent meeting of NHL general managers in Boca Raton, Fla. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the group he would have a specific proposal for the GMs to assess at their meetings during the Stanley Cup finals in June, a source said this week.
The draft lottery process has been evolving in recent years, moving from a standard system where the 30th overall team in any given season had the first overall pick in that year's draft to a draft lottery system where the bottom five teams were given a chance at the first pick in a weighted system that still favored the worst teams in the league.
After last season's lockout, the lottery system was expanded to give all 14 teams that didn't make the playoffs at least a mathematical chance to earn the first overall pick. No team could move more than one pick away from its finish in the standings under the previous two systems no matter who received the first pick.
Last June, for example, the Colorado Avalanche finished 29th and earned the No. 1 pick with the 30th place Florida Panthers dropping back to the second pick. All the other teams that didn't make the playoffs drafted in inverse order of their finish.
But the NHL is looking at expanding the process to give more teams better chances at top picks via a weighted lottery. Exactly how the process would work is unknown, and it's unclear what factors would go into determining the mathematical chances the 17th team would have at a pick in the top three or five or seven in the draft versus the 30th team.
The principle of giving the very worst teams the greatest access to the very best draft-eligible players has been at the core of successful rebuilds involving powerhouse teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks.
The earliest the changes to the draft lottery system, which would have to be approved by the NHL's board of governors if the GMs decided to adopt them, would be before the highly anticipated 2015 draft which features Sidney Crosby-like franchise opportunities in Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, who is also garnering significant attention as a possible No. 1 pick.
Expanding the possibilities of landing top picks among a greater number of non-playoff teams likely would help remove the possibility, or at least the perception, that teams might be tanking in order to get the No. 1 pick.