The 2020 NHL Draft Lottery caused chaos on Friday when it was revealed a placeholder team — one of the eight eliminated clubs from the qualifying round of the Return to Play format — will land the No. 1 overall pick.
Former GM and current Sportsnet analyst Brian Burke, who’s never been shy about speaking his mind, sounded off on the lottery process after the results were announced. He called the Detroit Red Wings falling to No. 4 overall "nothing short of a disgrace,” and it’s a stance on the lottery he’s taken for years.
Burke doubled down on that in the latest episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast.
"This is a familiar rant for me because I think the draft lottery is essential," Burke said. "But I think the lottery should be as small as it needs to be to discourage you from tanking, so that if you tank and there's only five teams in the lottery, the best you can do is a 25 percent chance. And I think this year it should've been seven teams. The teams that are not doing the play-in round, they should've all been eligible and no one else. Right now, you have a distinct possibility that a 100-point team is going to get the best player in the draft, which is wrong, wrong, wrong.”
The fact one of the eight eliminated teams will have an equal chance at securing the No. 1 overall pick and inevitably take star winger Alexis Lafrenière certainly makes the qualifying round more interesting. But will that affect the integrity of it?
"No, for two reasons," Burke said. "One, you can't tank in the dressing room level. You've got to tank at a much higher level than that. If the coach ever went in and said to a player ... if Jeremy Colliton went in and told Jonathan Toews, 'By the way, we're going to tank and see if we can get this Lafrenière kid,' Jonathan Toews would punch him. The tanking comes at a much higher level. You've got to tank at the GM level, you can't tank at the coach level."
So if a team in the play-in round falls behind 2-0 in the five-game series, might that impact roster decisions for the next game?
"That could happen, but I don't think that's ... for a 12.5 percent chance, I don't know," Burke said. "I know one thing: It's really hard to tell your players that it's important to win if you tell them it's OK to lose. [If you say], 'I know I told you years ago that it was OK to lose but now it's important to win,' good luck."
Listen to the full interview here: