Pat Caputo: NHL Unfairly Rigged Deck Vs. Red Wings In NHL Draft Lottery

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By 97.1 The Ticket

The 2020 NHL Draft Lottery was a travesty. The Red Wings and their fans were wronged and disrespected.

Who came up with the term “place-holder team?” It’s a ridiculous tag unbefitting of a supposed major league.

The Red Wings, by far the NHL’s worst team, will pick fourth overall. 

In the meantime, a team competing in the postseason will receive the first overall selection, who undoubtedly will be winger Alexis Lafreniere, a potential generational talent from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Think of :

- Toronto adding Lafreniere to Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander.

- Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Lafreniere

- Chicago with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Lafreniere.

- The Rangers with Lafreniere and the second overall selection from last year, Kaapo Kakko.

- Congratulations to former Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland for receiving a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s deserved. But it wasn’t because of the final years of his stint in Detroit after he lost his touch. Holland inherited Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton, the top two scorers in the league, and now possibly Lafreniere will fall into his lap.

The twist of the knife to the Red Wings’ back is they did anything but tank. The Red Wings waited far too long to go into total rebuilding mode and continually overspent on veteran players.

Everything about this process goes against the spirit of the draft, which is to provide competitive balance.

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The adding of the losing qualifying round teams to the lottery mix because of the pandemic was absurd, For one of those teams to get Lafreniere - especially if it is one of the Red Wings’ rivals - because of sheer chance adds salt to the wound. 

Stop tanking? Well, what about this scenario. One of the qualifying-round teams is down two games to none in their best of five series. There is a 12.5 chance they’ll be rewarded with Lafreniere if they lose. And it’s not like that team is eligible for any other premium pick. It encourages tanking.

Sure. The Red Wings should still get a top-end player fourth overall. General manager Steve Yzerman was right not whining about it Friday. The Red Wings need to play the cards they have been dealt and move forward by not giving into the temptation of excuse making.

But the fact the NHL stacked the deck for a postseason team ahead of the Red Wings was woefully wrong. 

And unfortunately the Red Wings’ loss will be the gain of an undeserving franchise.