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2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Stadium Build Out

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This Old League needs renovating

The NHL’s foundation is solid, but there's plenty of room for improvement

Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

With nothing but free time on its hands, the NHL should be taking a long hard look at a handful of much needed renovations that could really improve the value and quality of this league. However, while I have plenty of ideas about how to proceed, it’s always best to bring in some outside contractors to get a fresh perspective on some of the proposed renovations we’ll be looking at here today. With that all said, let’s go ahead and start our walk-thru.

Replace the Hard Cap with a Luxury Tax System

First things first, ditch the current cap system. To put it simply, the hard-cap system is dumb. It’s just flat-out dumb. Not only does it artificially suppress wages, which is bad, but it also hurts the very owners it was created to protect. Now the problem there is owners and the league office have always been more than happy to cut off their nose to spite their face.

Because these titans of the free market can’t seem to help themselves from either empowering idiots or approving contracts that set their franchise back five years the moment they’re drawn up, they have to ask the league office to come in and save them from themselves. (It’s honestly quite remarkable, and tragically ironic, when you really think about it. But that’s a topic for a different day). So, given that we can assume a tremendous amount of skepticism and trepidation on the owners’ part at the idea of getting rid of the bumper rails, there will need to be an incentive for them. Hence, the luxury tax.

The NBA is the model for creating the parameters of a luxury tax system. The NBA has a soft cap and follows that up with a luxury tax line above that, which is roughly another 20% of the soft cap. The system is fairly straightforward if you remove the free-agency exceptions. The league creates a salary cap structure that has three major markers: a salary floor, a soft cap, and a luxury line. The soft cap is tied to revenue and can go up or down each year depending on how the year before went. The luxury line, for the 2019-20 season at the least, is roughly 120% of the salary cap. The league sets the cap floor at 90% of the salary cap and any team that does not hit the floor must split the difference up evenly between the players on its roster. Setting such a high threshold does a few things for the league.

First, it prevents teams from signing all-veteran players and undrafted free agents at minimum league salaries and fielding a roster with a payroll of around $25-30 million. In a league where a handful of players make over $40m per year on their own, having teams field an entire roster for less than that would just be embarrassing. Second, it ensures that the mid-level players that make up the majority of the league aren’t forced to take ridiculously low contracts. There is a set number of “max players” in the league at any one time and not every team has one. By creating a high floor it helps keep the average salary in the league higher than it would be otherwise. The final reason, and one that hockey fans will already be quite familiar with, is that it creates an environment that tolerates, and in fact promotes, salary dump trades. If one team is below the floor while another team is trying to either create cap space or duck the luxury tax, they should be able to figure something out.

More importantly than any of the pro-labor arguments that come with a luxury tax system is one reason above all others to abandon the hard cap: it helps create a league that is just flat out more fun. Time and time again we have seen teams hit a peak, and have to start moving out players in their prime and/or talented prospects to try and stay below the cap. This exact situation hit Toronto square in teeth this summer when they had to let Jake Gardiner walk for nothing, and trade a first-round pick to get rid of Patrick Marleau’s contract. Maybe Gardiner still wouldn’t have stayed even if they could have afforded to keep him, who knows? But the Maple Leafs lost a good player at a position of need for a team firmly in their contending window.

In the NBA model, you need to have space below the soft cap to sign a free agent without using an exception. The soft cap is designed to help teams keep their own players, not to allow teams with an already high payroll to add prized free agents. By allowing teams to exceed the cap only when they’re signing their own players, the system is still prioritizing drafting and player development. Which means that Toronto wouldn’t have been able to go out and sign Artemi Panarin. But they would have been able to keep Marleau while re-signing both Mitch Marner and Gardiner to new contracts. They would have had to pay a not insignificant amount of non-salary dollars to do it. Which is exactly what you want.

And while we’re on the subject of Toronto specifically, the major concern with a luxury tax system is that large-market teams that generate a disproportionate amount of revenue would be able to use the luxury tax system to stack their rosters and create world beaters. And to that I say – good. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and super teams are fun as hell. Especially in a sport like hockey where the margins of victory can be so incredibly thin, getting to root against a super-team can be just as much fun as rooting for that team! Whether it was the Shaq and Kobe Lakers, the LeBron and Wade Heat, or the four-headed hydra that was the Steph Curry and Kevin Durant Warriors, having a legitimate villain is always good for business.

And is it really the worst thing in the world for the most visible and profitable teams in the league to have some success? Would the amount that these teams generate over that stretch for the league as a whole not be worth it? The truth is, with the LTIR system as it currently is, there is already an unofficial luxury tax. Only a handful of teams can afford to trade for player contracts that aren’t going to play for them just to move them to LTIR when they need to create room for players who are. If the league is already letting this happen, why not improve the system and let smaller market teams profit from the disparity?

Achariya from Raw Charge says: The hard cap actually works in Tampa’s benefit. We aren’t a small-market team, but we also aren’t a big-market team. The Lightning have been able to lure players to stay in Tampa with a combination of a great owner in Mr. Jeff Vinik, and the most unofficial of all “soft cap” items, the lack of state tax. This effectively gives hockey players additional income for home games while playing here, and Tampa exploits the hell out of this. Toronto doesn’t really need help luring players to stay — all it took was trotting out some Leafs pajamas for John Tavares to go back home, after all. But for a medium-market team in the south, this is what we’ve got!

70-game season

Look, the regular season is too damn long. Changing the regular season from 82 to 70 games removes about a half-game per week from the schedule. Cutting down on things like back-to-backs and three-in-fours will improve the quality of play throughout the regular season and positively affect player health. Increasing the time between games will allow players to rest and recover, while allowing teams to schedule more practical travel arrangements. Healthy, rested players play better hockey, it’s really that simple. As of now there are too many games too close together. And remarkably that’s not even the biggest issue. The biggest issue is those problems compound on themselves and diminish the quality of the playoffs.

The playoffs are the one time a year the NHL gets any love at all from people not directly in its orbit. NBC loves to show us all the stars at the games to support their home teams. Cities rally around the home team hosting ridiculous outdoor viewing parties for away games. Politicians make silly bets designed to obscure the fact that they have a giant hole in the center of their being where a soul should be. And above all else, there is the annual reemergence of one of the greatest tweets of all time:

Every year people in and around the sport talk about its lack of popularity around the country. Things like the Canes Storm Surging their way into the playoffs, or Vegas’ wild ride to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, are not only beloved for their base improbability, but also for the unique opportunity they provide to help solidify and build upon the passionate fanbases in less traditional markets around the league. Everyone always talks about growing the game. Well, shortening the season and ensuring the best teams and players aren’t hindered by avoidable injuries and needless fatigue for the league’s most visible collection of games is a major step in the right direction. If the NHL ever pulls its head out of its ass and decides to try and market this league effectively, ensuring the quality of its product is at a consistently high level throughout the year, while simultaneously peaking at the right time will be a big help to bringing in the new fans it so brazenly covets.

Robyn, Jewels From The Crown: Largely I agree that the league needs to shorten its season. Really, 41 home games is an insane amount of games and far too many. As a baseball fan, I think 180 games is in excess as well. At the other end of the spectrum, I think the NFL has too few games as each team only plays once a week 16 times in 17 weeks. That being said, 70 is still kind of a lot. I’d prefer 65. Sure that leaves five potential “playoff” style games with division rivals on the board, but, who cares? You want parity, there’s a crapton of parity with just 65 games and anything can happen in such a short season. Also, it moves up playoffs so that teams aren’t playing on crappy ice into June. Imagine the chaos that would happen if you moved the trade deadline up to January, just past Christmas. Anyway, if you lop 17 games off the end of the schedule, the NHL regular season now ends in the first week of March and you can have some of the best hockey going up against March Madness. Who wants to watch a bunch 20-somethings play basketball when you can do drugs and ride a very fast vehicle out of something that’s not actually meant to fly?

Make the Easy Fixes in the Rule Book

There are probably a half dozen changes or more that every hockey fan would like to see made to the rule book. But I’m pretty convinced there are three easy ones we can get out of the way first and then argue about the rest later.

First, ditch the delay of game penalty for puck over the glass. There is no reason for this to be a penalty. I don’t know that I can think of a single instance where I genuinely felt a player threw it over the glass to stop play, even before the rule change. Just treat it the exact same as icing and don’t let the offending team make a line change. If for some reason a referee does feel like a player has intentionally sent the puck over the glass, then allow them to call a delay of game penalty. But there is no reason at all why it should be an automatic penalty.

Second, make all power plays go the full two minutes. One of the biggest issues that hockey faces is the fact that every team’s best players aren’t on the ice for more than 20-25 minutes a night. Plus, even when they are on the ice there is absolutely no guarantee that they’re going to have a significant impact or do anything that more casual fans are going to notice as special. You know the one time in a game when that’s not really true? The power play. The power play gets a team’s best players on the ice together and allows them to show off the high-end offensive skill that makes them special. The NHL has seemingly gone out of its way to never market its stars and instead insist on marketing teams as a whole. But anyone who has ever watched their team play the Capitals knows the feeling of sitting there holding your breath and praying the puck doesn’t find its way to Ovechkin in the left circle. The league seems ready to enter an era where the games best and brightest are young offensive players who make highlight reel plays seemingly on a whim. Why not give them as much opportunity to do so as possible?

The third and final change is getting rid of offsides. Open the game up. We keep hearing coaches and players talk about how this new era of hockey is about speed and skill and how everyone needs to adapt to that. Well how about we adapt the rulebook to the new era as well. I truly don’t believe that it’ll ever get to a point where we see cherrypicking on a regular basis because hockey coaches are still hockey coaches and they get paid to hate fun for a living. But, I do think having a player on the wing cross the blue line before the puck and forcing the defense to stretch itself out would lead to a lot more high quality shots, and hopefully, goals. Also, if nothing else, eliminating offsides eliminates the offsides review and offsides review is evil and must be destroyed.

CJ From Anaheim Calling:

Talk about some hot takes. I’ve been on board with taking away the puck over the glass delay of game rule. It punishes honest mistakes that aren’t reckless or put other players safety in danger. It can affect the outcome of a game for a player who tried to make a high bank off the glass to clear the puck only to miss by about two or three inches. Treating it as an icing would be enough punishment for the crime. Having a two-minute minor penalty for this would be like cutting off someone’s hand for rolling through a stop sign.

I’m torn on making the power plays go the full two minutes. I know this was floated as an idea within the NHL at one point in an effort to increase scoring, but scoring has been increasing on its own over the last two seasons as skill (and possibly smaller goalie pads) become more apparent with each new draft class entering the NHL. Additionally, doing this would likely drastically cut down the amount of power plays and would likely lead to more timid play from many teams. Power plays are honestly one of the most fun game situations to watch, and cutting down on the entertainment is not the goal here. Given that fact, I would be fine keeping minor power plays the way they are.

Finally, this ain’t roller hockey. While on some level I would love the chaos of having no offside, I think this would create a bunch of extra confusion for casual and new fans and take away a level of strategy that already forces teams to work within defined creative parameters.

Fix the Trade Deadline

Despite everything we have come to expect from the NHL and more specifically its GMs’ fervent insistence on kicking the can down the road as often as possible, this year’s trade deadline was... fun? As it turns out, most trades aren't quite as hard to negotiate as front offices around the league would have us believe. There were a number of trades in the days leading up to the deadline, as well as on the deadline itself, ranging from head-scratching to incomprehensible to inconsequential. And yet most hockey fans could be forgiven if they are hesitant to consider this a sign of things to come after years of getting strung along by countless GMs. But transactions and rumors and all the rigamarole that surrounds them are fun and engaging and if there is anyway that we can juice it then thats great for everyone.

First thing that needs to happen in regards to the trade deadline is moving the Board of Governors meeting up in the NHL schedule. As The Athletic’s Sean McIndoe pointed out in a recent episode of PuckSoup, moving the Board of Governors meeting to before the trade deadline makes a lot more sense than having it immediately after. Having all the GMs in one room right after the deadline just feels like a troll job to be honest. Sure, maybe nothing comes of it in the end; this is the same exact group of people who somehow manage to turn the draft into a non-event, but maybe not. It absolutely could not hurt to move it up a week or two and see how it goes.

Second thing that needs to be addressed is where the deadline goes. Operating under the assumption of a 70-game schedule, the 20-21 season could start on October 4th and end on April 4th. All while never making a team play more than three games in a week. This schedule also includes a bye week in early December and a week off in mid-to-late January for the All-Star Game. The question then becomes where in the season do we put the deadline, especially in shortened season. The answer is right after the All-Star Game.

Move the ASG to the middle of the week when there would normally be games on and put everything in primetime. Get your stars on TV on a night people are actually watching TV. An all-star schedule that runs Wednesday through Friday leaves a whole weekend for the GMs to make their moves. By placing the Board of Governors meeting at the beginning of that week, or even the preceding weekend, and the ASG at the end of it, what you've managed to do is turn a week off into a week full of potential for fans.

The final change isn't an alteration but a creation. Institute a mid-season buyout window. The economics of a such a window might be a little complicated but there are ways to work around it. By limiting in season buyouts to player contracts with no more than two years left, you can limit the number of players who are actually being bought out. Plus, by requiring players to agree to any in season buyouts, you also eliminate the risk of teams trading for players on bad contracts only to them kick them to the curb before the contracts are completely paid out.

The real gem here, however, is preventing things like what happened to Joe Thornton this year. Jumbo was apparently willing for the first time, at least publicly, to go out and have his shot at chasing a Cup outside the familiar settings of Northern California. Even people in San Jose were publicly calling for the organization to let the Sharks legend have his Ray Bourque moment. Yet, the deadline came and went, and Joe Thornton found himself chained to the mast of a sinking ship in San Jose while watching as longtime friend and linemate Patrick Marleau was shipped off to a contender.

And to be quite frank, thats a damn shame. Who knows how long the future Hall of Famer is going to be in the league? But if there wasn't a trade to make, then there wasn't a trade to make. So why not give him a shot despite the trade market not being there? By instituting a buy out window for the week or two after the deadline, you would allow teams like San Jose to sit down with veteran players like Thornton and come to an agreement. Maybe no one wanted to give up an asset for him, but if all it cost to add a player so widely respected around the league to your roster was a small cap hit, its hard to imagine there wouldn't be multiple teams in contention who would roll the red carpet out to bring him into the room.

Look, as a Ducks fan, I hate Joe Thornton. But as fellow AC contributor Tony Leo has said, it’s a hatred born of respect. The man is a damn legend and whether he wins a ring or not, he’s going to go into the Hockey Hall of Fame. But the same was true for Ray Bourque, and the only people who maybe weren’t happy to see one of the sport’s all-time greats win that Cup were New Jersey fans. But the Devils ruined hockey for like two decades so who cares what they think.

Update the Playoff Format

Before jumping into the part of this that everyone is going to hate, let’s start with the part I think most people can agree on. Conferences are stupid and we should eliminate them from the playoff conversation. Instead, the playoffs should change to a 1-16 open format that reseeds after every round. This change has two main benefits.

First, it ensures that the best teams over the course of a 70-game regular season are the ones who are rewarded with a playoff berth. By utilizing an East versus West system, teams that have no business in the playoffs make it in while other teams with a far better record are punished for playing in a strong division. It’s dumb. It’s just dumb as all get out.

The second benefit of a 1-16 system is that it creates the possibility of having a Stanley Cup Final that consists of a divisional rivalry. You can say anything you want but we can all agree that if the Stanley Cup Final ever came down to a Toronto versus Boston or Calgary versus Edmonton, the whole world is tuning in. There is absolutely no way that any sane hockey fan is missing those games.

And now for the part that everyone is going to yell at me about. The biggest issue with a non-conference based playoffs is travel. Now if you ask any of the NBA or NHL players from the 70’s who were forced to ride coach like normal people, they would say that anyone getting a private jet should shut up and smile because they don’t know how good they have it. To which Auston Matthews would simply say, “OK boomer”.

Ultimately, the travel issues are more logistical and less about player comfort. If Vancouver and Florida have to play in the first round forcing players and press to fly catty-corner across North America, should the series go seven games, it just becomes a nightmare schlepping back and forth for one game here then one game there and then back here again. Nobody wants that. Not the players, not the league, not the press. it messes with everything from scheduling to travel plans and it’s all largely avoidable.

Right now the playoffs consist of four consecutive best-of-seven series. This format has a number of issues. Not only does it make scheduling the ensuing round more difficult when some series last longer than others and home ice is dependent upon who wins the series still being played, but it also just takes too damn long. Last year the Stanley Cup Playoffs started on April 10th and ended on June 12th. For who? For what?

So, let’s just completely change the playoff format. Make the first round a single-game elimination. Make the second round a best-of-three series. Make the third round a best-of-five series, and keep the Stanley Cup Final a best of seven. The single elimination game and all three games of the second round will be played entirely at home for the higher seed. The second two rounds on the other hand, will follow a more traditional home and away structure, with 2-2-1 and 2-2-1-1-1 splits respectively. By giving higher seeds the potential to have four consecutive home games to start the postseason, you incentivize regular season success and make the Presidents Trophy a legitimate prize.

Plus, having the length of the series increase as the playoffs progress helps to ensure the best hockey is being played at the end, and that the postseason doesn't drag on for two months for no reason. You could play the entire first round in a single weekend by splitting all eight games over two days. Then start the best of three series on a Wednesday and have those wrapped up within a week while only playing 2 games a night and giving all four series the attention they deserve. After that you have two best of fives and a best of seven, and the league is looking at awarding the Stanley Cup in mid-May. Schedule the lottery and the NHL Awards for the last week of May, the draft for the first week of June, and now you’ve got yourself a schedule that works for everybody.

J.J. From Kansas, Winging It In Motown:

I will say that I do not feel the playoffs take too long and would not consider changing the length of the rounds outside of perhaps the first to a five-game series. With how sensitive I think hockey is to luck affecting the outcome of a single game, it doesn’t sit right with me that a team can have their playoff chances dashed because of the unfair nature of variance. I accept that worse teams can still win a seven-game series due to luck, but I like that for the most part, the better team tends to win at a rate that makes sense.

I do like the idea of seeding everything 1-16 and telling teams to suck it up when it leads to travel difficulties/irregularities. Most of the really compelling hockey is over by the first two rounds with the current format and, while the weight of the conference finals and the SCF can carry the interest, it would be really great to see teams with robust regular-season rivalries meet for the cup and it would be interesting to see East/West first-round matchups become rivalries that can be useful for selling the two regular season games those previously-uninterested teams will have for the next season.

Abolish the Draft

The draft is bad. The fact that players spend their entire childhood trying to become the best hockey player they can be only to then be told that the reward for their hard work is that they have no ability to decide where they get to play is insane. And worse yet, the better they are, the worse the team they have to play for, irrespective of whether or not that team is well-run or filled with other talented players who can help them reach their full potential as athletes.

Connor McDavid has made the postseason once in five years despite being one of the four best players in the league the moment he walked in the door. Jack Eichel has scored at least 50 points in each of his first five seasons in the league and has never even sniffed the playoffs on a team where the second best player was arguably the head coach. Brady Tkachuk played 71 games before getting an A on his jersey and joining the leadership core of a team who’s front office has seemed committed to trading away every talented player on the team in an active attempt to get worse.

Look, I’m on record embracing the Ducks lean hard into the tank and trade away valuable contributing players like Adam Henrique, Josh Manson, and even Rickard Rakell. But that’s only because the current system as it’s set up incentivizes teams to actively seek to hit the lowest low they possibly can in order to get the best chance possible at acquiring young talented players. The fact of the matter is this the ultimate incarnation of “don't hate the player, hate the game”.

In professional team sports we have seen time and time again that talent is the most important piece of building a championship quality roster. It doesn't matter how much character or grit or leadership or sticktoitiveness you have in the room if none of the guys in the room are worth a damn on the ice. I will fervently defend character guys and role players and “good in the room” guys until the end. But those guys exist to support and supplement the high end talent that a roster needs to compete, not replace it.

Tanking sucks for everyone involved. Fans rooting for losses sucks. Front offices trading away talented players on their team that “don't fit the timeline” of the team’s plan to compete again sucks. Players having to go out there every night knowing that both their boss and their audience hoping it doesn't go well for them sucks. Coaches having to make lemonade with the worst lemons possible and knowing that by the time the talent comes they probably won't be there sucks. Tanking just flat out sucks. But until you get rid of the draft, it remains the most pragmatic and responsible course of action for management groups around the league.

The draft sucks for a number of reasons. It punishes the best young players in the league by deciding where they get to play for them, and more often than not, choosing the worst situation possible. It sucks because it incentivizes losing for teams hoping to add elite young talent to their roster. Any time a league is designed in a way that encourages fans to root against their team, something is wrong. So let’s just get rid of the draft and stop ruining the careers of so many young players because they were forced to play for incompetent organizations.

The most obvious push backs to abolishing the draft and making all entry players free agents, is they're all going to only want to play for big market teams and smaller teams won't be able to get anyone. And I understand where that concern comes from but I think it misses a crucial point. You can want all you want, but at the end of the day wanting doesn't get you anything. I want a date with Rihanna but I’m starting to think it might not happen for me.

The fact remains that hockey players want to play hockey, and while they may very well have preferences for where they play, they're also smart enough to know that they all can't play for the same three teams. By keeping Entry Level Contracts as is, you can eliminate any chance of big market teams using their financial muscle when it comes to prospects. Rosters are only so big, and only so many teams are going to be willing or able to bring in rookies immediately without any time in the AHL to get some familiarity and experience playing against full grown men. Rookies with no NHL experience are going to have a hell of a time fighting established NHL players for roster spots, not to mention having to compete against other young players who are just as hungry as they are.

I understand the potential pitfalls that can come with allowing a bunch of 17- and 18-year olds to make major life decisions. But if we as a society are fine with them being able to join the military or take on thousands of dollars in student loan debt at that age, I’m not really sure how allowing them to pick what city they want to play professional hockey in is a ridiculous proposition. Any other person who worked as hard as these kids do to become among the best at what they do would have a conniption at the thought of being told the reward was being forced to do that for the worst company in their field without any say in the matter. The idea that it’s a perfectly acceptable practice when it comes to professional athletes is beyond the pale.

Bryan Bastin, On The ForeCheck

I get where you’re coming from - it definitely is painful for any hockey fan to watch Connor McDavid waste away in Edmonton, but abolishing the draft - with all of its flaws - would be quite the overcorrection. I have several reasons, and I’ll address the McDavid-sized elephant in the room last.

Watching teams tank can be entertaining for some, but mostly just sad for most people involved. But avoiding the tank has been the main goal of the Gold Plan for some time. In short, when teams are eliminated from the playoffs, from that point on, the points they earn in games following that go towards lottery standings. Ideally, teams eliminated first have more chances to accrue points, while teams eliminated in the last week or the season have less opportunities, but a higher chance to earn points. There are several criticisms of this, mostly involving the trade deadline being watered down - but let’s be honest, GMs are too afraid to do anything cool anyways, so I don’t see it. Plus, if you’re like Ottawa and hold San Jose’s first-round pick, you have two options: either the team holding the pick starts accruing points when the team that traded the pick is eliminated, or the eliminated team losing earns the holding team points. Either way. But it addresses the tanking issue pretty well.

Opening up players to free agency? Sure, I get the argument that you could limit contracts teams can offer, or the level of the contracts, but we know how it will eventually end up. I’ve watched enough college football - eventually, players flock towards the top teams for the chance to compete, and teams will be willing to keep them. If you can guarantee Byfield and Rossi are both on your team next season, you’ll find a way to make room on the roster for them - there’s always veterans you can trade/waive. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but tell me: how many top 10 picks do you see honestly working to get signed by Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Florida, etc? Small markets and/or bad teams are not going to stay competitive when players can go to winning teams or their favorite teams growing up.

But most of all, the idea that great players waste away on bad teams. It does happen - McDavid, Tkachuk, and Eichel - but is that the norm? I wrote about this earlier this week - but basically, if you look at players picked at a position and how often they appear in the playoffs after being picked, lottery players often end up being great players that turn bad teams into good teams. Look at the first overall pick since 2005 (players with minimum of 50 regular season games):

Since 2005

Player (Year Picked) Percent of Seasons after Draft Player Appeared in Playoff Games
Player (Year Picked) Percent of Seasons after Draft Player Appeared in Playoff Games
Sidney Crosby (2005) 80% (12 playoff series of 15 seasons since draft year)
Auston Matthews (2016) 75% (3 of 4)
Patrick Kane (2007) 69% (9 of 13)
Steven Stamkos (2008) 50% (6 of 12)
Nathan MacKinnon (2013) 43% (3 of 7)
John Tavares (2009) 36% (4 of 11)
Nico Hischier (2017) 33% (1 of 3)
AVERAGE 31%
Connor McDavid (2015) 20% (1 of 5)
Aaron Ekblad (2014) 17% (1 of 6)
Erik Johnson (2006) 14% (2 of 14)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) 11% (1 of 9)
Taylor Hall (2010) 10% (1 of 10)
Rasmus Dahlin (2018) 0% (0 of 2)

The trend follows for most of the lottery picks - good players don’t get stuck on bad teams because they’re high picks, they just get drafted by very bad organizations. Good teams use high round picks to turn a team around, but teams like Edmonton, Buffalo, and Florida just can’t seem to do it.

So I don’t think abolishing the draft would be the solution - draft pick value plummets after the first 10 or so picks anyways - the Gold Plan addresses nearly all the issues you have with the draft. If you’re serious about eliminating Connor McDavid situations, there’s only one answer: abolish the Edmonton Oilers.

*** Insanely huge and deep thank you to Robyn, JJ, Achariya, Bryan, and CJ for helping with this article and turning it into something worth running.**

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