This is now a great season for the New Jersey Devils right now. This much is obvious. There’s not much to hang your hate on outside of Jack Hughes and some of the rookies on the team. Nico Hischier has been rolling and Pavel Zacha is playing better, but overall this team hasn’t given fans much to root for. They finally won a game on Tuesday for the first time in weeks. It was literally weeks between wins. Still, this should not lead to Devils fans “rooting” for losses.
Many want the best chance to select between Luke Hughes and Owen Power at the top of the NHL Draft. Obviously, losing the most games would give the Devils the best chance to get the number-one overall pick. The Devils are currently four points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres, who are last in the NHL.
Still, despite being so close to the bottom of the league, rooting for losses makes no sense as a fan. The Devils have already done a lot of losing this season. They’ve done it 34 times out of 47 games. The only way that rooting for a loss matters even a little bit is if it’s the last game of the season and losing could keep the New York Rangers out of the playoffs (I’m petty. Get over it.).
The worst team in the league has won the NHL Draft Lottery just twice in the past 10 years. In fact, the number-two seed has won the draft lottery three times in that span. The Devils have actually won the lottery three times in the last 10 years, but rules in 2011 only allowed them to move up four spots, or they’d currently have Ryan Nugent Hopkins on the roster.
This is the first year that only the top two spots will be determined by the lottery. It was changed after the 14th seeded Rangers won the right to pick Alexis Lafreniere last year. This is also a strange year because of the presence of the Seattle Kraken. The expansion team will automatically get the third-best odds in the draft no matter what the standings say.
That makes it kind of interesting when it comes to the lottery, but it still makes it hard to go into the game hoping your team loses. Obviously, New York Jets fans have a different feeling after they won two games last season and lost a chance to take Trevor Lawrence, but hockey is different. There is a lottery here. The Devils don’t have much of a difference between first and second when it comes to the odds. If they lose and fans want to decide then that the loss is okay because of the lottery odds, then that’s fine. Dealing with a loss in the aftermath is one thing. Hoping it happens is another.