It's almost become a draft day tradition of sorts: the Edmonton Oilers, who have somehow or another wound up with the first overall pick, drafts a generational talent to have any and all hope for a future sucked out of them. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and now Connor McDavid all are cornerstones of the Oilers' future.
It's just that with cornerstones like that, why isn't the future brighter?
Fans and now GMs are tired of seeing one team get all of the luck, only to squander top talent away. The Oilers, once one of the league's premiere franchises known for their Stanley Cups, have now turned into the league's punchline, especially where first round draft picks are concerned.
Doug Armstrong has an idea how to fix it. Not from within the Oilers' organization, because good luck there. Rather, he'd like to see teams not monopolize the top draft pick due to some weird tribute to the hockey gods, or whatever Edmonton does on lotto night.
According to the Toronto Sun, Armstrong had this to say at today's GM meetings:
"I think people are concerned that the wrong teams are being rewarded based on luck," Armstrong said in an interview Sunday from Florida, where the NHL’s general managers will congregate for their annual spring meetings in Boca Raton starting Monday.
"The theory is that if you finish last you always have a chance to win the lottery," Armstrong said. "So, if you finish last three years in a row, you can win the lottery three years in a row. But if you didn’t finish last and win the lottery, you can’t do it again for another five years. If you are like Edmonton last year and finished 28th and won the lottery, you couldn’t win it again this year if you didn’t finish last.
"As for the five years, I’d be moderately flexible on the number of years. But here’s my point — just the theory that you can get lucky in winning the lottery once but that’s it. If you earn the first overall pick by being the worst team in hockey, I think you should get that right. We set it up that way on purpose, especially in a lottery system where teams can move up. But I don’t think we should be rewarded based on luck more than once every five years."
It seems like a rule that could easily gain support. Oilers fans might cry foul, because the rule is so obviously focused on their team's recent run of both horrible and excellent luck, but I'm sure that Sabres fans'll welcome the change.
The thought of one team monopolizing the league's best talent then consistently squandering it every year is something that rightfully concerns fans of the game and now the general managers who would like the chance to make their last-place teams better.