The quirk of the NHL draft can keep the top picks for the worst teams in the league

Sorry, no tears are shed over the plight of the Red Wings, whose historically poor season yielded them only the fourth overall pick in the draft as a result of the way ping pong balls bounced around in the Friday.

Do you think the Detroit organization, always arrogant in good times, agonized when the 2016-17 avalanche, almost as bad as this year’s Wings, also fell to fourth place in the lottery while the Devils, who had registered 22 points more than Colorado, scored the first choice?

And by the way, wouldn’t you say Colorado was okay to score Cale Makar three places after the Devils selected Nico Hischier? Who do you think goes first in a new draft? Makar, Miro Heiskanen (third to Dallas) or Elias Pettersson (fifth to Vancouver)?

A few weeks ago I wrote that the lottery should have been restricted to the NHL’s Seven Dwarfs, who were omitted from the Hub-Bubble 24-team extravaganza that is tentatively set to begin in late July. The draw, therefore, would have been limited to Detroit, Ottawa, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, New Jersey, and Buffalo, with the Senators-owned Sharks selection. That seemed fair to me.

But the NHL went its own way, designed a system to create some intrigue, and I spent all of 0.2 seconds worrying about it.

I have long criticized the recruiting system which reflexively rewards incompetence and encourages bad team administrations to do their best to hit bottom for a few years to put together a series of high recruitment choices. It worked for Pittsburgh. It worked for Chicago. However, it hasn’t worked as well for Edmonton or Buffalo, or most of the floating debris at the bottom of the NHL ocean?

A system that channels 18-year-olds to outposts most frequently marked by dysfunction does no one any favors (other than the management groups that inherited, created, and perpetuated the dysfunction). Did it help the NHL that Steven Stamkos, first overall in 2008, went to the playoffs once in his first five years, or that John Tavares, first a year later, also went to the tournament once in his first five years?

Who does it help that Taylor Hall, first in 2010, didn’t make the playoffs until his ninth season? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, first a year after that, didn’t come until his seventh year. Connor McDavid, first in 2015, was hidden from international view playing for a team that made the playoffs once in its first four seasons, and Jack Eichel, second in that season, has yet to arrive in five years.

So good not only for Alexis Lafreniere, the extreme Rimouski who is the first consensual selection this year, that he will not be sent to a sad situation, but good for all of us who can really enjoy a young player of his talent. working with a decent team.

The hard limit punishes success, and the flat hard limit, which will be a feature of the new CBA expected to take effect next season, will be all the more brutal in reducing the size of major teams. The draft expansion rules punish success. The draft punishes success and rewards incompetence.

But for once, in the midst of a global pandemic, the NHL stumbled upon something different. A reasonably decent team, and perhaps even a better one than that, will win the first overall pick and have the pleasure of bringing Lafreniere into the lineup.

And to think that I’m old enough to remember that when the NHL wanted to hold the 2020 draft before play resumed, the lottery designed for that event would have guaranteed the Red Wings to recruit no less than a second.

And Bill Daly’s confirmation that if COVID-19 prevents the qualification round from playing until completion, the next eight teams in reverse percentage-point order when the season stopped on March 12 would tie for the first overall pick. .

That would mean Canadians, Blackhawks, Coyotes, Wild, Jets, Rangers, Flames, and Panthers would have a 12.5 percent chance of selecting first overall.

Doug Wilson and Kevin Lowe were the top two defenders who were not in the Hockey Hall of Fame until their selection by the committee on Wednesday, and both Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa deserve their choice in their first year of eligibility. No problems there, or with the choice of famed Canadian team goalkeeper Kim St. Pierre, three-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time IIHF world champion.

But Alexander Mogilny’s continued snub is puzzling. Not so perplexing but disturbing is the omission of Mike Keenan, who by any objective measure belongs, and certainly if Pat Quinn is an honest member. But voting is a subjective exercise and when an 18-member committee swears the secret behind closed doors, there is a cloud over the process. The first rule of being on the selection committee is not to talk about the selection committee.

I’m not necessarily a less common type of denominator, as in, well, if player A is inside, then player B must be. You don’t want to select someone simply because they could be the same player you consider least deserving in the Hall.

But here is one. Why is Dickie Duff, 283 goals, 289 assists, 572 points in 1,030 games at HOF Hockey, while Dean Prentice, 391 goals, 469 assists, 860 points in 1,378 games, isn’t he?

Yes, Duff had six Cup winners (two in Toronto, four in Montreal) while Prentice had none. But Prentice spent the first 13 seasons of his career with the Original Six Rangers and Bruins. How do you think Duff would have done it with the sad Blueshirts jacket?

Well, I will tell you. He had 20 points (7-13) in 43 games during his tenure in the mid-1960s between the time he arrived in New York as part of the package for Andy Bathgate and left in an exchange with Montreal that brought Ernie Hicke back. .