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Islanders: Looking at impact of changes to NHL Entry Draft Lottery

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 06: A general view of the draft board following the first round of the 2020 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft at the NHL Network Studio on October 06, 2020 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 06: A general view of the draft board following the first round of the 2020 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft at the NHL Network Studio on October 06, 2020 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The NHL Board of Governors has approved three changes to the NHL draft lottery effective for the 2021 Entry Draft. The New York Islanders may not be at a place where the draft matters that much, but it’s still important to look at what’s changing and how that could impact the Isles, if at all.

As I said, there are three changes that have been made to the NHL entry draft lottery.

  1. Only the top two picks can be won through the lottery.
  2. Teams can only move up 10 spots if they win.
  3. As of 2022, a team can’t win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span.

New York Islanders and new entry draft lottery changes

All of these changes help tanking teams. These changes were put in place after Detroit finished well in the basement but only got a fourth overall selection. Missing out on Lafrenière, Byfield, or Stützle.

Pierre LeBrun indicated over a month ago that GM’s wanted the lottery to favor teams near the bottom rather than penalize them:

"The sense, at least from some team executives, is that the pendulum had shifted too far the other way after a movement to penalize tanking was supported years ago."

I certainly get the sentiment. Teams at the bottom need help whether they are tanking or not. Other fanbases might not like it, but that’s how the draft is supposed to work.

We should remember that teams who win the draft lottery don’t always win.

  • Edmonton won the draft lottery three times from 2010 through 2012 and didn’t make the playoffs until 2017. That was after they selected McDavid 1st overall in 2015.
  • New Jersey picked first overall in 2017 and 2019 and still haven’t made playoffs, and aren’t likely to do so this year
  • The Sabres have three top 2 picks from 2014 through 2018 and haven’t made the playoffs once since. And just like the Devils, the Sabres aren’t likely to make the playoffs again this year.

As you know, the Islanders are in contender mode and not in rebuild mode. So when it comes to who wins the draft lottery it doesn’t really concern them directly because they hope to be nowhere near a lottery spot.

Do they care if they can’t move up more than ten spots if they miss the playoffs? Or that they can’t win the lottery more than once in a five-year span? Not at all. The focus isn’t only on the playoffs but a Stanley Cup. The draft lottery is FAR in their rear-view mirror.

Once this cycle is done though, these changes could help them get back to competing ways sooner rather than later. Maybe they don’t have to go through a 12-year rebuild and change GM’s before they’re competitive again.

Remember, Garth had his rebuild through the draft where he selected in the top-5 five times from 2009 through 2014.

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