Monday was a disappointing night for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
And they didn’t play. No player was injured stepping off a curb or caught drunk and disorderly. Ownership didn’t throw the keys on Gary Bettman’s desk.
What went wrong, however, was that the L.A. Kings spanked the Nashville Predators, and in so doing moved from 11th in the Western Conference to fifth, and from 19th overall to 12th.
The Jackets, dead last once more on your scorecard, have to care about such things because they own L.A.’s first round draft pick courtesy of the Jeff Carter swap, something that theoretically, at least, means a lot more now that the NHL has gone partway in reforming its flawed draft lottery process.
Until that win, the Kings were one of the 14 teams staring at being inactive when the post-season begins. Their draft position, now owned by Columbus, would have been eligible to cop the first overall pick at the June 30 draft in Newark if all the bouncing balls had gone a certain way.
That’s new. Before teams could only move up four spots, a ridiculous system that allowed a team to win the lottery against all odds and yet not win very much at all.
Now, the team with the best record among the non-playoff teams could win the lottery. For a team like Columbus, which also owns the first round selection of the New York Rangers from the Rick Nash trade, it means that if both the Kings and Rangers miss post-season play, the Jackets would have three shots at the first overall pick.
Let’s say either the L.A. pick or the New York pick cashed in and won the first overall pick. If Columbus finished last overall, they could only move down one slot in the draft selection.
And thus could end up with Seth Jones AND Nathan MacKinnon.