The NHL’s revamping to the draft lottery format will probably backfire this year when the league’s bottom feeders make a concerted effort to sink to 30th place. There’s just too much to gain from finishing last overall.
First, some background.
In August, the league announced changes to the draft lottery to be phased in over two years. The changes for 2015 are small adjustments to the odds of winning – they’re more evenly balanced now and the last-place team has a 20 percent chance of winning rather than 25 percent under the old format.
The real change doesn’t happen until 2016 when the lottery will be used to determine the top three selections in the draft.
By not making these sweeping changes right away for 2015, the NHL inadvertently will encourage the league’s worst teams to tank it in an effort to secure 30th place. That’s because for the 2015 draft, there are two generational prospects available. Connor McDavid has been called the stud of the 2015 draft for close to three years now. He’s been incredible this season. And in the past year, Jack Eichel has emerged as a close second option to McDavid. They’re head and shoulders better than the rest of a deep draft class.
Full disclosure: I’m a complete luddite. As such, I wish we could have just stopped at CDs and DVDs. I think space travel is a complete waste of valuable money and intellectual resources that could be far better used to, say, eradicate poverty here on Earth, where people actually live. My 15-year-old son does a lot of sighing and gritting of teeth as I fumble through a game of NHL 15 with him.
When the NHL negotiated its 12-year, $5.2 billion landmark deal for the Canadian broadcast rights with Rogers, it was easy to grasp how enormous the deal was, how good it was for the NHL from a financial standpoint and how it would change the viewing landscape in the four-screen universe and all that. I got that.
But that did not prevent me from pushing buttons in frustration and yelling at my television last night as I frantically searched for the Pittsburgh-Detroit game. Heard it was a pretty good game. Kudos to those plucky Red Wings (heh-heh, plucky Red Wings) for scoring twice with their net empty with under three minutes left before winning it in overtime. Boy, it sure looked exciting on the highlights.
The coaching business in the NHL is about to get crazier thanks to the pending free agency of Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock, who almost assuredly will set a new record for a coach’s salary whether he stays in Detroit or moves on to a new place of employment. So, that has to mean better times are ahead for all coaches, right? A whole, “rising-tide-lifts-all-boats” thing, right?
Not so fast. Because although Babcock’s pending spike in pay may very well result in higher salaries for more members of the coaching fraternity, there’s other forces at play here: the increasingly rapid turnover of coaches at the NHL level – and this year, the early success of most off-season coaching changes.
There were six such changes in hockey’s best league this summer. Let’s take a brief look at how they’re working out: In Nashville, Peter Laviolette has the Predators off to a 5-0-2 start (including a big 3-2 win over Chicago Thursday) that makes them the last team in the league without a loss in regulation. In Washington, former Predators coach Barry Trotz has steered the Capitals to a strong showing out of the gate (just one loss in regulation in six games) and his relationship with star winger Alex Ovechkin is beginning on the right foot. In Pittsburgh, Mike Johnston is working with a significantly rejigged roster, but the Penguins have points in four of their first six games and should be fine. In Vancouver, Willie Desjardins has reinvigorated a Canucks squad that had been wholly deinvigorated under John Tortorella.
Things aren’t working out that well for all the new coaches. Read more
Not that there was much doubt in the matter, but with his 33rd career shutout on Thursday night, Jonathan Quick grabbed the franchise record for goose eggs and firmly cemented himself as the best netminder in Los Angeles Kings history.
(NOTE – This post has been updated twice. See below.)
The Boston Bruins’ blueline took a salary cap-related hit prior to the season with the trading of veteran Johnny Boychuk – and it got another scare with potentially bigger ramifications Thursday when captain Zdeno Chara left the team’s game against the Islanders with an undisclosed injury. His final shift of the game ended with 8:12 remaining in the first period, and Bruins coach Claude Julien offered no update on his condition after Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Isles.
On his last shift Thursday, Chara laid into Isles captain John Tavares with a solid check, but didn’t give any indication he was injured on the play: Read more
In posting two hat tricks already this season, Ducks right winger Corey Perry is reminding NHL fans the Hart Trophy-winning season he had in 2010-11 was not mere chance occurrence. He and center Ryan Getzlaf have already combined for 10 goals and 20 points, and having two consistent Hart Trophy candidates in the lineup is, of course, one of the key reasons (if not the key) to their team’s success.
But what Perry has that sets him apart – what gave Anaheim one of the little extra edges it needed to win the Stanley Cup in 2007 – is the simple, unmistakable fact he’s fresh out of damns to give, and that includes giving a damn about having his supply of damns restocked. And at 29 years of age, he looks to be more dangerous than ever and primed to challenge his career-best 50-goal, 98-point, Rocket Richard-winning ’10-11 campaign. Read more
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Nicklas Backstrom quietly scored his 500th career point against the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday night.
He did it quietly because Backstrom does everything quietly. That has something to do with the fact that he’s Swedish and, remarkably like almost all his countrymen, is singularly unimpressed with himself. It also has something to do with the fact that he plays alongside Alex Ovechkin, a larger-than-life figure who is comfortable in the spotlight. Backstrom is more than happy to allow Ovechkin to soak up all the adulation, and have to handle the pressure that comes with being an NHL superstar. Read more
In a lot of ways, PK Subban could remind you of a young Michael Jackson: they’re both incredible at what they do, they’re both almost unanimously loved, and they have similar dance moves.
All right, fine, we can’t be sure about that last part, but chances are the young Canadiens defenseman at least busted out a few of his finest MJ impressions at the Habs Halloween bash, where the young superstar donned his finest Thriller attire: Read more