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Bettman amid proposed NHL lottery changes: 'I don't believe there's tanking'

Mike Stobe / Getty Images Sport / Getty

With the NHL looking to make some tweaks to its draft lottery system, commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't believe teams have intentionally played poorly to obtain better picks in the past.

"There are some clubs who recently think it's important that the teams that are struggling the most get the most help. There are other teams ... that think there is nothing wrong with the present system at all," Bettman said to media via Zoom Thursday. "I don't believe there's tanking in the game. I think our players, and our organizations, our coaches, are too professional."

The NHL recently proposed to the league's board of governors some changes to its lottery system. The reported alterations include limiting teams to no more than two lottery wins in a five-year period, allowing clubs to jump up only 10 spots, and reducing picks in the lottery from three to two.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday that it's "more likely than not" the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft will be held in July, according to The Associated Press' Stephen Whyno. The NHL's general managers were reportedly in favor of postponing the draft.

The league last altered its lottery format in 2016, making the top three picks available in the lottery for non-playoff teams instead of just the No. 1 selection. Bettman said he thinks the current system doesn't need a complete overhaul, just a few minor adjustments.

"Yes there's been an anomaly or two here and there, but the system wasn't necessarily crying out for major change," Bettman said. "I think these adjustments are more in the form of tweaks than anything else."

The NHL's last-place team has picked first overall just twice in the past nine years.

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