Sabres GM upset over new draft lottery rules; was Buffalo targeted?

Greg Wyshynski
Can't-miss NHL prospects - big pay day for McDavid; speedy Day to play for Canada
Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters got a nice Christmas gift from Reebok. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The NHL Board of Governors approved changes to the draft lottery format on Thursday, including “the compression of odds among the 14 non-playoff teams as well as increasing the number of selections determined by draft lottery law,” according to ESPN.

The changes still need approval from the NHLPA to be enacted for 2015.

The changes will not get approval from Tim Murray.

“Greedily, I’m upset,” said Murray, GM of the Buffalo Sabres, on Friday, “because I think we have more of a chance of next season being one of the lower teams. Which I don’t like, but I think it’s just reality."

The 2015 Draft is, of course, The Connor McDavid Draft, as the next “Next One” can be taken by whichever team holds that top pick. But there’s also dynamic U.S.-born forward Jack Eichel, whom some believe could challenge McDavid for that top spot.

The Sabres own their own pick, as well as ones from the New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the 2015 Draft.

Barring a catastrophe, the Blues pick won’t be in the lottery; but the Sabres could have two picks that are there, depending on the Islanders’ fate in 2014-15. Murray’s biggest issue with the new Draft Lottery rules is that everyone knows this.

“You know who you’re affecting, that that’s not fair,” he said.

“I asked them that if we’re going to make a change, could we make it five years out? I was trying to make a point, as I do exaggerate sometimes, but what about three years out? If it’s three years out, it’s 2016, and I don’t care. I don’t plan on being involved in that No. 1 pick.”

Does he believe the Sabres were targeted because they’ve loaded up for this draft and there’s a belief – fair or unfair – that they’ll tank to get McDavid or Eichel?

“From my understanding, in talking to Gary [Bettman], the concerns were not about the Buffalo Sabres,” said Murray.

The silver lining for the Sabres is that even though the odds of winning the lottery for a last place team have been somewhat lessened – from 27 percent to around 20 percent – next year’s draft rules will guarantee that the worst team in the league can fall no further than the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

Not that the Sabres are going to deliberately finish last in the League, of course.

“We’re not tanking,” said Murray. “We don’t intend on picking first three years in a row.”

C’mon, Tim, we all know it’s not tanking; it’s “losing with purpose” …