There are at least three potential franchise players available at the top of the 2015 NHL Draft, as phenom centers Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel join defenseman Noah Hanafin as can’t-miss blue chippers.
Obviously, teams that are looking to rebuild their franchises around such a player aren’t going to dramatically improve their teams just to have the playoff bubbles tickle their noses. They’re going to tank, tank hard, tank like Brad Pitt in “Fury.”
Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star asked the NHL what it thought about this strategy, and discovered there’s no gambling at Bushwood, sir (and they never slice):
“We aren't concerned because we don't believe it's true,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Star.
Of course there’s no tanking in the NHL. If there were, wouldn’t the League, like, change its draft format in a way that punishes teams with the worst records who might have intentionally swan-dove to the basement to ensure their putrid record?
Tanking happens. The NHL is aware of it. The question will eventually morph from “who’s tanking?” to “is there virtue in this approach to team building?” We imagine that question will be answered by the Buffalo Sabres in 3-5 years.