This past season in the KHL a format was introduced to non-playoff teams vying for top spot in the KHL Draft. The teams that failed to reach the post season would do battle in a consolation tournament, with the winner being awarded the first overall pick.
What if the NHL did that?
It would almost certainly increase competition and avoid “tanking” during the regular season to obtain a high lottery percentage. Most teams won’t admit to tanking, but it’s pretty evident in some cases that teams just aren’t putting an effort in to rise in the standings. Teams looking at a basement apartment often deal away the skilled pieces of their lineup for youngsters with the assumption they have a chance at a high pick.
What if the NHL completely removed the lottery system and introduced a format similar to the KHL? It would add more games for non-playoff teams and increase revenue, as well as give fans of said teams some more hockey to watch.
Imagine a 14-team format with the 30th and 29th ranked teams getting the first and second seeding, earning a buy to the second round. That gives the worst two teams in the league increased odds, sticking to somewhat of an advantage to coming last, but surely not as enticing as the current format.
This bracket can’t go as long as the Cup playoffs, that’s for sure, but how about something like this:
Round 1: Single Game Elimination
Quarter-Finals: Best-of-Three Series
Semi-Finals: Best-of-Three Series
Finals: Best-of-Five Series
The higher seeds would have home ice advantage, which in this case would be the worst teams from the regular season. The bracket would look something like this:
I would be in favor of this. It gives every team some extra hockey, and something to play for. The LA Kings proved two years ago that it doesn’t matter what seed you are in the playoffs, or how well you did, or didn’t do, in the regular season. Could the worst team win the non-playoff tournament? Of course they could. Anyone can put together a string of games.
The mindset could shift from “let’s get in the lottery” to “push for the playoffs at all cost”. Why would teams settle for a consolation tournament when they could push for the real deal and chase Lord Stanley?
I think it increases the competitiveness of the NHL without altering any rules, or making any changes to how the game is actually played. It increases revenue for all teams due to the extra games and treats fans to some extra puck that otherwise wouldn’t be available.
What are your thoughts? What would you change if you think it’s a good idea?
Thanks for reading!