NHL Reset Draft Will Let Teams “Start From Scratch”

If teams stuck in a rut at the bottom of the standings wished they could have a Vegas Golden Knights-like do-over, now they can.

The NHL has announced a proposal for the introduction of a Reset Draft. For the price of $250 million, any franchise can walk away from all of its existing contracts and re-enter the league with an expansion draft under the same rules that Vegas had in their draft.

The Reset Draft option will begin for the 2022-23 season, as the Seattle Kraken are already participating in an expansion draft at the end of this season. The idea of the Reset Draft has been in the works for a while. It was first presented to the league by Loof Lirpa, a scout from Estonia who has worked for several professional teams.

“Some teams are just spinning their wheels,” Lirpa said. “They scout players and try to rebuild their teams, but it is hit and miss with a lot of players after the first two rounds. This plan gives owners the opportunity to – for a price – wipe the slate clean and start all over with their personnel.”

Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The options for many teams are intriguing. Would the Buffalo Sabres, for example, walk away from Jack Eichel and all of their contract and prospects just to start all over? What about the Anaheim Ducks or the Detroit Red Wings? Would they hit the reset button, or would they continue with their rebuilding plans?

“The plan will really cause teams to look within themselves,” Lirpa said. “I can’t see a team like the Ottawa Senators going for a plan like this because they are rich with prospects, but for some teams, it will allow them to completely re-think the way they go through the rebuilding process.”

The deal still has to be approved by the players’ association, but they seem to be in favour of the proposal. According to the initial plan drawn up by the league’s committee, players released from their contracts by a team entering the Reset Draft will become unrestricted free agents, regardless of their tenure in the league. They will be permitted to sign for any team except for the team that released them.

Reset Draft Lottery

One of the most interesting scenarios that could happen involves two teams wanting to buy into a Reset Draft in the same season.

“What we are proposing is a lottery in a case where more than one team wants to buy into the draft,” Lirpa said.

Under Lirpa’s plan, teams will have until the end of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to decide if they want to enter the Reset Draft. If more than one team declares for the draft, then a lottery will be held. The lottery will be weighted, with the team with the fewest number of points in the previous season having a greater chance to win.

A team is not allowed to win the Reset Draft lottery more than twice in any five-year span.

Lirpa said that if the proposal is approved, it could change the landscape of sports forever. Tanking a season in order to get a better shot at the first overall draft pick may be a thing of the past. It may also also change the way teams approach the draft deadline.

“What you will see is fewer trades where teams unload their superstars, who are fan favourites, for a bunch of prospects,” Lirpa said. “Teams can now let their stars play out their contracts and not upset their fan bases if they know they are going to enter the Reset Draft, and being a part of the Reset Draft and the Reset Draft lottery will surely excite hockey fans everywhere.”

While many have embraced Lirpa’s plan, not everyone is on board.

“At first glance, it may sound like a crazy plan,” Lirpa said. “But it gives owners a chance to give immediate hope and optimism to their fan base.

“One NHL executive did not like the idea at first. He said the plan was ‘backwards.’ I told him I loved things that were backwards, especially my name, Loof Lirpa.”

And even if this is an April Fool’s joke, wouldn’t it be a great idea?

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