The 2023 NHL Draft features one of the most talented prospects since Connor McDavid. NHL teams and fans are waiting in anticipation to see who will have the right to draft Connor Bedard this summer.
Bedard had NHL teams and fans swooning even before his record-breaking performance at the World Juniors. Now, fans of teams lower in the standings are hoping for their teams to tank for this seemingly generational prospect.
Tanking in sports is nothing new. Teams intentionally weaken their rosters in order to build themselves back up from scratch. It happens, but it is rarely acknowledged on the record.
However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman disagrees with this. In his mind, his league doesn’t actually feature tanking to any extent, and for one specific reason.
“Nobody tanks because we have a weighted lottery,” Bettman told reporters on Tuesday. Bettman referred to the NHL Draft Lottery, which ironically is an anti-tanking measure.
Each of the league’s 16 non-playoff teams partakes in the lottery. However, only the 11 worst teams in the NHL have a chance at the first overall pick. The team with the worst record at season’s end has the highest odds of winning the first overall pick.
Many believe teams in the NHL intentionally tank to better position themselves in the Draft Lottery. However, Bettman vehemently disagrees with this notion.
“You’re not going to lose games to increase your odds by a couple of percentage points. That’s silly. And frankly, suggesting tanking, I believe, is inconsistent with the professionalism that our players and our coaches have. Nobody tanks,” Bettman told reporters.
As of this writing, the Columbus Blue Jackets hold the highest odds of winning the first overall pick. The Blue Jackets don’t appear to be tanking, especially given their off-season signing of Johnny Gaudreau.
However, teams behind them certainly appear to be tanking. Prime examples include the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes. Both teams either have moved veterans for draft picks or they will do so in the very near future.