Conspiracy Theories About NHL Draft Lottery Are Laughable

Connor McDavid - OHL Images 2
Connor McDavid: the inevitable first overall pick for the 2015 NHL Draft is not part of a vast conspiracy. (Photo: OHL Images)

If you participate in (or even just read) the comments section to any recent Leafs, Coyotes, Oilers or Sabres article, likely you have seen people talking about the NHL draft lottery. And if you’ve seen that, surely you’ve seen someone mention that the fix is in.

There are some variations, but these are the most common:

1.  The Leafs will win the draft lottery and get Connor McDavid because the NHL wants its next marketable superstar to play in its biggest market.

sounds good, and it goes hand in hand with this beauty:

2. The Leafs will never win the draft lottery because they already sell-out every game and the NHL would prefer to sell McDavid in an emerging market where they can get the most value out of him.

Either way, you can see that the NHL will have rigged things either for or against the Leafs no matter what happens. Like a bookie who manipulates the spread, the Tin Foil Crew can’t lose no matter the outcome of the Leafs’ lottery fortunes.

Toronto Maple Leafs square logo

But not all wacky conspiracies revolve around the Leafs:

3. The Arizona Coyotes will surely win the draft lottery because they are Bettman’s pet project and he will do anything to see them succeed. Including – but not limited to – rigging the draft lottery so that McDavid goes to the desert. The Coyotes need a marketable star to survive and there just happens to be one now.

No word yet on why Bettman hasn’t tried this before. Surely the Coyotes could have used Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos or Tavares.


4. The Oilers will not be allowed to win the lottery because they’ve already had their share of number-one overall picks.  Or, the Oilers will win the lottery because the NHL wants to stack them up and recreate the 1980s.

5. The Sabres will somehow be prevented from winning because Buffalo once lost four straight Super-Bowls, had a Stanley Cup stolen from them and the NHL wants to continue the tradition of piling on the city of Buffalo. Evidence of this can be seen by how the NHL – seeing Buffalo positioning itself to draft McDavid – lowered the odds of the last place team getting the first pick before the start of this season.

Then there is the exact opposite, which is that Buffalo will be given the pick to apologize for when the NHL intentionally stole their Stanley Cup back in 1999.

Phoenix Coyotes square logo

And so on and so forth. You get it. It doesn’t matter who picks when, some clown will inevitably declare that it’s just too convenient for that to have happened on its own. Does it matter that some of these make no sense or that many of them are contradictory? Of course it doesn’t.

The world is filled with conspiracy theories, and, some are probably true but the vast majority of them are not. Their function is to make us feel better about the complete lack of control we have on the outcome of events. Luck and randomness play much larger roles in human events than most people care to admit and so conspiracies are born to help us feel better about the world.

But, let’s be clear: The odds say that out of the billion or so conspiracy theories that exist, a few of them must be real. For me, I’ll at least entertain the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone or that Kurt Cobain was actually murdered.  But the NHL rigging their lottery?  I put that right up there with Paul being replaced by a doppelgänger or world events being controlled by some all-knowing secret organization – it’s just ridiculous on practically every level.

Frankly, there is no way the NHL will do anything but be completely above-board with the upcoming draft lottery and if you disagree, you are not only wrong, but you’re not thinking it through.  At all.

The NHL is not going to risk their credibility, a bunch of  lawsuits, the trust of its fans or the possible existence of it as a professional sports league, in order to decide where one player spends his career.  Whatever vast amount of money the league can make by manipulating the destination of Connor McDavid, they stand to lose much more if it ever came out that they rigged the lottery.

Quite literally the NHL would be risking it’s entire future – the viability of the league and billions upon billions of dollars – just to place one player in one specific market. The risk/reward scenario of such a situation is so bad that no one capable of rising to run one the world’s premier sports leagues would ever be stupid enough to try it.

As with most conspiracy theories, this one can be debunked with a little bit of critical thinking. And, honestly, not even that much of it.


No, there is and will be no conspiracy surrounding the NHL draft lottery. The proceedings will be 100% above board and there isn’t even a microscopic chance that it will be rigged in anyway.

So if the Leafs do or do not get the #1 pick, only chance can decide.  Not Gary Bettman.