Per E.J. Hradek on espn.com, here is the lottery format for the NHL Draft:
"The lottery format is a pretty simple one. There will be 48 ping-pong balls. The Rangers, Blue Jackets, Penguins and Sabres each have three balls. The Ducks, Thrashers, Flames, 'Canes, Hawks, Oilers, Kings, Wild, Predators and Coyotes each have two balls. The remaining 16 teams have only one ball."
How the hell are the Thrashers not in the category of teams getting three balls? (Insert Dr. Evil "three ball" joke here.) They're the only team in the two-ball category that has not made the playoffs over the past three seasons. I thought that the lottery was weighted on the last three years results. If so, explain this:
Points in the last three years
Columbus - 188
Pittsburgh - 192
Atlanta - 206
N.Y. Rangers - 226
Buffalo - 239
Now, if the lottery balls are based on previous lottery success or there are other complications in the formula, then that's one thing. Regardless of my ability to read and comprehend legalese (hereinafter, "legal comprehension"), I don't have the time to read the 800-page labor agreement. That said, if it was strictly weighted on on-ice results, what are the Rangers and Sabres doing in the lucky category in place of the Thrashers? Why not just have a category for teams that haven't made the playoffs over the past three years? And how do you justify excluding Atlanta for the benefit of two teams that have been demonstrably better over the past three years? Is the NHL giving a nod to the fact that they need to reinvigorate their rust belt franchises? Are they admitting that they overexpanded? Is this all just a cheap ploy to get Sidney Crosby to New York? As a hockey fan, as well as an Atlanta partisan, shouldn't I be happy for that if it makes the League stronger? Is Blogspot paying me based on question mark usage?
Update: here's the formula for how the lottery was weighted. That explains why the Thrashers only have two chances our of 48 instead of three. To me, this sounds like the NHL trying to get to a result where their biggest market has the best shot possible. This is what happens when you have to make the rules as you go along.