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Why the Ottawa Senators Would Relish a June NHL Entry Draft

Why would the Ottawa Senators hope for a June NHL Draft?

The fact that the NHL is pushing to hold an earlier-than-normal draft in June does not bother the Ottawa Senators at all. In fact, given the rules and proposed solutions to issues the NHL’s leadership released in a memo to teams on Friday, things would likely work out quite well for the Senators.

In a May 1 column, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman laid out the NHL’s early draft proposal and offered some commentary about it. He noted that one of the most hotly-contested issues would be the draft lottery – especially the long-shot issue that the winner of the lottery might also go on to win the Stanley Cup.

As Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly reported last month, the NHL would use points-percentage to determine the odds for the draft lottery. Given that system, the Detroit Red Wings would hold the best odds of winning the lottery at 18.5% while the Senators would have the second-best odds at 13.5% with their selection and another 11.5% chance with the first-round pick they got from the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade. Those are great odds for the Senators.

Related: Is the Ottawa Senators Erik Brännström Closer to Finding a Roster Spot?

The Early Draft Solves Other Issues

In the memo, Daly said concerns had been raised by NHL general managers that, under the current format, a team could technically win the lottery and then go on to win the Stanley Cup if the season were completed later during the summer. Friedman noted that, to eliminate that issue – as unlikely as it might be – the NHL proposed a format change for this season only. The proposal is that there would be only a single winner and that the league would limit any team’s move upward to a maximum of four places.

Friedman then shared Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston’s list of potential outcomes. As Johnston figured it, “Detroit would pick no lower than second. Ottawa (with San Jose’s top selection) could do no worse than three and four. New Jersey, Buffalo, Montreal, and Chicago couldn’t jump above two, three, four, and five, respectively.”

Why It’s Likely the NHL June Draft Will Happen

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported a league executive to have said, “I’d say judging by the memo it’s 100% going to happen. The NHL wants it and so do their television partners so they’ll find a way to make it work.”

In fact, in the aftermath of last month’s successful NFL virtual draft, the NHL would like to follow that plan. Furthermore, both of the league’s broadcast partners — NBC in the United States and Rogers in Canada — have endorsed the proposal. Why wouldn’t they? They’d have a captive audience.

There are also some other strategic reasons for the NHL to hold a virtual draft. As NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly noted, “Staging the NHL draft in June would provide us with the opportunity of building a profile and platform for this event that it has never enjoyed before – particularly in the United States.”

He added, “The sports media generally is in desperate need of new, original, and compelling sports content, which will incentivize it to promote and cover our draft in ways that it has never been covered before.”

Related: Ottawa Senators Brady Tkachuk: Competing for a Leadership Role

Things Look Good for the Senators

Given the fact that the Senators could win the lottery and, in the worst-case scenario, would drop no further than No. 3 and No. 4, it makes good sense that Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk and the Senators general manager Pierre Dorion haven’t voiced objections to such a June draft. It would be surprising if they did. It’s a format that benefits them. (from “The Ottawa Senators could be big winners if the NHL has its way and holds draft in June,” Bruce Garrioch, The Ottawa Sun, 02/05/20).

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