Buffalo Sabres Tanking Risk More Than Reward


Yes, this another piece on why the Buffalo Sabres tank is riskier than what one would have assumed.

Focusing in, Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel would be huge components that no team should have to go on without. But is tanking really the answer? I’m not opposed to either as great pick ups in the draft, my problem lies with the idea of “tanking.”

I’ve already ranted about how it’s not worth it, but let’s look at the risk side of it.


If the Buffalo Sabres finish the regular season in thirtieth place, we face the possibility of retaining the first overall pick. Keyword, possibility.

This isn’t the NFL, folks. You don’t finish in last place and then get two or three months to waltz around the massive crop of next-generation players, just waiting for their shot at an NHL roster spot, just to come back to the top rated player and take him first overall. No, you wait for the lottery to happen and hope that the rule of highest percent chance comes in.

In essence, or at least in my eyes, the Buffalo Sabres are losing to not even get a top pick.

The likeliness that Buffalo maintains the first overall spot is still the highest, but not guaranteed. It’s hard to get a fair ratio when running the NHL Lottery Simulator, since there is only one pull and that determines the winner of the lottery in total, not the first overall pick. However, Buffalo is still stuck within a fourteen-team battle for that pick.

The NHL introduced the lottery to remove the idea of tanking from franchises minds, which is why I am personally disgusted with the idea that this team is taking it to that level.

Had it been a few years ago this might have been a better idea, but now, the chances of getting the pick are now 5% worse than in previous years, thanks to the NHL rule change this past August. Last year, Buffalo had a 25% chance and still wound up with the second pick, granted I don’t think the pick would have been any different, but that’s what they are facing now in the coming months.

When the lottery was put into place, it was designed as a preventative measure against teams tanking, the same thing that this club seems to be doing. I would love to rather hear that they are just that bad and not that they are actually losing on purpose to take a blind shot at a potential first pick.

In the past 10 lotteries, four of the teams that finished with the worst record were able to maintain that top pick. Sixty percent of the teams that occupied up to four spots after were able to claim that top spot. After the 2005 lockout, it was a fair lottery of 30 teams, which had the Pittsburgh Penguins winning it to take Sidney Crosby at first overall. Two other teams, the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings could only move up four spots, but now that rule is null and void.

Now, all fourteen non-playoff teams get a crack at the top pick. That means that teams that maybe finish the season a win away from the playoffs have the ability to add on a player who could bring them into the playoffs.

So in a crazy possibility, a team like the Los Angeles Kings could jump up to one and take the prize. Talk about a tortoise and the hare scenario.

So, why would a team deliberately tank, just for a chance to claim the top pick? This is one thing I still don’t understand, but apparently Buffalo fans know more and took that opportunity to root for losses since day one, but are quick to turnaround and chastise this team for being just that bad.

To make matters worse, it has come down to the fanbase cheering for the Phoenix Coyotes win last night, just to further our “lead” in the lottery race. You can read more about the reaction on Adam Savard’s post game analysis  from last night.

But, it’s okay, just cheer for losses. We will see just how it works out this summer. I hope I’m wrong and Buffalo actually does retain the first overall, or at least get’s Jack Eichel. Both are studs in their own way and can help this team in the long run. I just hope those same people who were jumping for joy at last nights game come to realize the class that they had lacked if or when Buffalo is sitting outside the top two spot. Which, could be a possibility.

Next: Sabrenoise Round Table: Rule Changes

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