I’m sure Derek will have his own vent on the draft lottery later on, even if his team actually has a shot at getting the top pick with a play-in loss. I’m mostly posting about it to give a mea culpa. Derek was right and I was wrong, I defended the concept of play-in playoffs being tied to giving those teams a shot at the lottery. I thought it was a fair compromise, the price of bringing extra teams into the bubble and making sure all the teams that were close to a playoff berth (along with a couple that weren’t) had a fair shot in an unfair season and also throwing playoff teams forced into the play-in series a bone in case they got upset.
No, I’m not doing an about face because the Devils’ lotto luck finally ran out. Quite honestly going from 6 to 7 was the most statistically likely result for us, we’ve already had enough good luck for like ten lotteries since we won our last ‘three’ (inlcluding Adam Larsson, which only bumped us from #8 to #4 overall thanks to the rules in place then). Nor am I even annoyed that a play-in team will luck into the #1 overall pick this year, at least not per se. Teams that have minute odds have been jumping the lottery every year.
What made me change my mind about the absurdity of this year’s double lottery is the realization that the Devils were a couple of wins away from this play-in tournament and getting a 12.5% chance of lucking into yet ANOTHER #1 overall, and how that fact would actually incentivize losing for the fanbase. Not for the players or even management, teams can’t realistically tank a shot at the playoffs just because of a 1 in 8 chance of winning a lotto although people are going crazy imagining that very concept. However fanbases are free to feel how they want, and fans of mediocre or bad teams like Montreal, the Blackhawks, etc are definitely going to weigh the 1/8 chance of getting the #1 pick versus the minute chance of actually advancing in the playoffs and be very conflicted, to put it mildly.
I’d never advocate tanking or rooting for the team to lose, even in the hypothetical of us squeezing into the play-in tournament I laid out. Which by the way would have put us against a rival Penguin team while having to debate rooting for the tank, ironic as it would have been given the events of the most infamous draft tank of all time in 1984. As distasteful as rooting for the team to lose is to me, I’m not sure I could even blame anyone for going the other way on it considering the chances of winning the lottery are much greater than advancing in the playoffs would be for us or even Derek’s team. And THAT is what changed my mind about this lottery. As well-intended as I think it was to try to throw a compromise to everyone, incentivizing losing for fans is never a good thing.
And also cynically I think if the NHL could have picked a result out of tonight, it would have been this. Now they get weeks of breathless speculation and can hype up the Lafreniere lottery as another TV event, with a chance of him going to some prime markets. Nobody would have really cared to watch a drawing for the #2 or #3 picks, and the play-in teams would have furrowed their brows if they didn’t get a lottery win out of this configuration.