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How About No NHL Draft?

from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,

So let’s say there was no draft right now. Teams would have a week to wine and dine eligible 18-year-olds. Aaron Ekblad might well choose Buffalo or Florida. He might want to be a Leaf. He could, theoretically, choose to go to Chicago if the Blackhawks had the room, even knowing he might not be able to break into the NHL for another couple of years.

Next year, Connor McDavid could be courted. Those teams that didn’t get him might have the wherewithal to chase Jack Eichel. Might a team be able to get both? Theoretically, sure. But they’d have to do it within the confines of a rookie cap and a salary cap.

Why reward teams for being terrible with high picks? Why force talented young players to join lousy organizations?

The draft is an orderly way to distribute talent, sure, but whether it’s an effective way to distribute talent, maintain competitive integrity and motivate teams to improve their organizations is much less clear.


Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


awould's avatar

I can’t imagine a better way, which is maybe why every major sport uses it. Suggesting that treating amateur prospects like free agents is a dumb idea. Like, really dumb.

Posted by awould on 06/26/14 at 06:56 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Suggesting that treating amateur prospects like free agents is a dumb idea. Like, really dumb.

It’s dumb for hockey because hockey probably can’t afford to deal with how brutally such a system can punish stupidity.

In a system in which both salary and contracts are capped. The concern about universal junior free agency is that they’ll all pick the most-prestigious team.

In such a system, it’s impossible for the most-prestigious team to collect all of those prospects. Furthermore, if you eliminate the requirement that they owe the NHL discounts on entry-level and restricted free agency deals, that further limits the ability of the prestigious teams to gather all of the talent.

Remember, it’s a capped system. It’s designed specifically to prevent GMs from giving all the money to some kid.

All this does is introduce a higher level of variance, punishes teams for trying to be bad, and punishes more GMs for either choosing badly or being too aggressive on those prospects.

The real problem is that the lack of a draft could potentially murder badly run teams. You get a bad GM in place for 5 years and you suddenly have no means of actually collecting enough NHL-capable talent to play. Without a system like relegation where you can play against other similarly-built teams and be competitive enough to actually draw fans, you just get teams dying in a talent vacuum (which can actually make the highest-level of the sport better because it waters down the competition less).

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/26/14 at 07:27 PM ET

awould's avatar

Not to mention places like Winnipeg would be at a severe disadvantage since nobody seems to ever want to live there.

Posted by awould on 06/26/14 at 08:01 PM ET

Iggy_Rules's avatar

This is just another example of Cox trying to stir the pot. The current NHL is structured to allow every team to have a shot at the cup. His proposal would result in the exact opposite and likely end in contraction, not expansion.

Think about it. How many kids grow up wanting to be a Nashville Predator as opposed to a Montreal Canadien or a Detroit Red Wing? The top dozen teams would end up collecting all the talent while the Islanders and Panthers of the league would languish at the bottom, losing both money and fans in the process. I suspect it would even come down to eventually affecting Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Phoenix etc.

Anyway, this is never going to happen.

Posted by Iggy_Rules from Calgary, Canada on 06/26/14 at 11:54 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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