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Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Draft lottery at issue for NHL GMs

By Scott Burnside
ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- The NHL is moving toward altering its draft lottery to help avoid teams earning the top overall pick on a repeated basis.

The league's general mangers, meeting Wednesday at a hotel in Times Square during their annual Stanley Cup convocation, also discussed further enhancing use of video replay to examine issues like whether pucks sent over the glass were tipped, whether pucks hit the mesh above the glass and came back into play and whether plays involving goals were off-side. 

But the key issue was the draft lottery system in the wake of the Edmonton Oilers securing the No. 1 pick in three straight years, from 2010 to 2012.

Taylor Hall
Taylor Hall's acquisition via the No. 1 draft pick in 2010 started three straight years in which the Oilers had the top overall pick.

What remains uncertain is how soon changes might happen and exactly how they would look.

"There weren't enough guys to suggest we had to change the percentage or the odds of lower teams getting into it. As of right now it's the same as it has been," Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray told ESPN.com after Wednesday's meetings of the league's general managers.

There are some GMs, however, who believe teams getting the first overall pick in consecutive years should be prohibited.

The Buffalo Sabres have three first-round picks in next year's draft, which features star prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, and general manager Tim Murray said any changes won't be taking place before next year's draft.

"That came up too about changing the draft lottery system. Which we are going to do. But certainly I said it should be -- I said five years out -- so you don't know who's getting punished," Murray. "Murray it might be two years out three years but that was a little concern of mine that I feel a little bit better about today."

While a number of GMs were under the impression any changes would be beyond the McDavid/Eichel draft, league officials told ESPN.com it's possible commissioner Gary Bettman and/or deputy commissioner Bill Daly could table the proposal, which would include a two-part change with different odds in place for 2015 and a lottery for the top three picks involving the bottom three teams as established by the odds lottery in 2016.

It's believed the Board of Governors could discuss the proposal at their meeting later this month before the draft in Philadelphia.

The issue of expanding the role of video review was the subject of a long and wide-ranging debate at the meetings, and it's expected at some point there will be enhanced video review to tied to a coach's challenge.

But the league isn't in a position to put these changes into place for next season. Instead, it's possible the system could be tested in-house next season to see how it might work before being introduced to lives games.

"It would be related to a coach's challenge. So instead of jumping right into it. Maybe everybody understands when the coaches' are going to challenge so maybe just try it internally for a year," new Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford said.

"So, these are real tough changes. So you want to get it right," Rutherford said.

The GMs are looking at a system in which a coach would be allowed a challenge provided he hasn't used his timeout previously and then the timeout is kept if the challenge is upheld.

The group looked at a replay of a goal by Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference final where there was a review of whether he used a high stick to deflect a puck into the Chicago goal.

He did not but replays showed the play leading up to the goal was off-side. That could be challenged under this new system when it's introduced.

"Because when you get into too many (challenges) then it's just a way of having another timeout," Rutherford explained.

"I like the idea of getting right. That's what we always try and do. But to get it right we better get it right," he said of the system.

Florida GM Dale Tallon echoed those sentiments.

"There was a lot of good stuff about moving forward and getting it right. That's all we're concerned about: making sure we get it right. And then if we do further reviews, we've got to make sure that when we do the reviews, it's black and white. There's still a lot of grey areas in all of this stuff," said Tallon who has long been a proponent of a coaches' challenge.

The idea of video review to determine whether there was goaltender interference was not discussed, he said.

The GMs also agreed to proposals that came out of the league's competition committee earlier in the week including moving the hash marks on face-off circles farther apart so they match Olympic standards, expanding the trapezoid in which goaltenders are allowed to play the puck by 2 feet on either side of the net and having teams change ends for overtime during the regular season.

There will also be expanded fines for players and teams that are caught embellishing calls.