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Thoughts to Ponder: Draft Lottery Gets New Look, Kane’s Shootout Non-Move

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Thoughts to Ponder is a weekly blog posted every Tuesday exclusive to StormTheCrease.com.  Each post involves hockey-related news and is meant to provoke thought, enrich your mind and invite criticism.  Many times, it will simply annoy, disturb or possibly even destroy your love for the game.  Let’s hope the latter does not happen with every post.

Finally, a team other than Edmonton may get the first overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft.

Along with a new CBA comes a new system for the NHL draft lottery.  It was announced Monday evening that the NHL has adopted an NBA tradition which sees every non-playoff team be eligible for the #1 overall draft pick.  In a weighted system, the lowest seeded team will have a 25% chance of winning the lottery while the team that finished with the most points but did not make the playoffs will have a 0.5% chance of winning.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the Oilers' first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (Bridgetds@Flickr)

As before, the 16 playoff teams will have their fate decided by where they finish in the 2013 playoffs.

This is quite the improvement from the last system.  Only the worst five teams in the league had the chance to draft the best overall player, as teams could only move four spots lower in the draft.  For example, the New Jersey Devils won the 2011 draft lottery, but they were only allowed to pick fourth since they finished with the 23rd best overall record in the NHL.

The chances of winning the draft lottery are unchanged from seasons prior.  But now a team like New Jersey can actually draft first instead of just moving up a few spots.

This change should make for a more exciting draft lottery, which is usually held after the regular season ends and before the playoffs begin.  I expect fans outside of Edmonton and Columbus will actually care to tune in this season.

Western Conference Will Miss Detroit

Under the league’s new realignment plan, the Red Wings will finally be given what they have been promised for years.  They would move to the Eastern Conference, along with the Columbus Blue Jackets (both teams are actually found in the Eastern Time zone).  Although the Red Wings faithful have to be ecstatic about the move (a lot less 10:30 pm starts for Pacific Coast games), the Western Conference may miss out on the revenue that would be brought in, as the Red Wings have made rivals with what seems like every team in the west.  On our podcast this weekend, co-host Justin Wilson and I discussed the ramifications of the Red Wings moving east.

Niklas Kronwall and the Red Wings will be moving to the Eastern Conference under the new realignment plan (Bridgetds@Flickr)

“I’m going to be sad to see the Red Wings go,” said Wilson, 26.  “As a St. Louis resident, I have grown up to hate the Red Wings.  In my mind, [St. Louis vs. Detroit] is one of the most powerful rivalries in the game of hockey.  Seeing that go is going to be sad.”

Kane Slowly Wins Shootout

Someone who is known for his lightning speed is likely to use that to his advantage in the shootout.  That’s why it was such a shock to see Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks’ leading scorer, slow down to almost a complete stop, stickhandle and kick his right leg twice before shooting a wrist shot Sunday afternoon in Detroit.  Kane waited out Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard and fired a shot under his blocker arm.  A Corey Crawford save at the other end sealed the deal as the Blackhawks continued their amazing 22-game season-starting point streak.

Flyers, Maple Leafs, Blues Rumors Have to be False

Last week, sources out of St. Louis declared that Blues GM Doug Armstrong had been seen at Philadelphia Flyers games. Obviously, this stirred speculation as the Blues have hit quite the run-in with the injury bug.  Veteran Daniel Briere has been the cornerstone of the rumors.

Two days later, rumors circled that the Blues were also interested in forward Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Despite Kulemin being known for his offensive talents, he has not been given a lot of power-play time and has been used primarily as a checker and penalty-killer.

Nikolai Kulemin has posted just 2 goals in 23 games this season (Bridgetds@Flickr)

The Blues need offense; they have been shut out twice in five games.  Remove the Blues’ 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Friday night, and the Blues have scored just four goals in five games.

Here is why I am doubtful that either of these rumors is true: The Flyers have been hit with injuries as of late as well.  After losing both Matt Read and Tye McGinn with injuries, the Flyers were forced into making a trade, as they acquired former fan-favorite Simon Gagne last week to alleviate the lack of offense.  Briere has posted some decent numbers for a struggling Flyers team (5G-8A—13P); why would they give up an offensive talent when they need offense?

The Maple Leafs are having an unexpected season and are currently sitting in 5th place in the Easton Conference.  Why would they make a move now?  The team is gelling well and looks to be making a strong run for the playoffs, which is something they have not been a part of since before the 2004-05 lockout.

The only way that I see either of these players being brought to St. Louis is for more instant help.  The Flyers are built to win now and the Maple Leafs are looking to join the playoffs this season; with the injuries stacking up in St. Louis, they cannot afford to lose anything but draft picks at this point.

Jeff Carter is Showered with Hats

Does it get any better than a hat-trick on hat night?

Monday night, the LA Kings trounced the Nashville Predators, 5-1, on home ice.  Carter led the charge with three goals, bringing on the usual hat toss from the fans.  But this time, the fans were awarded hats when they walked in the building, so the showering of hats was that much more special.

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Tune in next week.



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