Want to draft Connor Bedard? Have a playoff for No. 1 pick

Connor Bedard. Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Bedard. Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Was reading The Athletic the other day and came upon this gem.

A listener of the excellent “32 Thoughts: The Podcast” had a tremendous, fantastic, lovely idea.

Have a tournament among the NHL’s non-playoff teams with the winner landing the first overall pick. The runner-up would get the second pick and the rest of the teams would pick where they finished in the standings. Teams also would get financial rewards.

What a great idea, right?

Incentives galore

“I just like the title ‘The Cup of Hope,’ ” podcast co-host Jeff Marek told The Athletic.

The NHL uses a lottery to determine draft order. The Flyers have a 6.5 percent chance of winning the lottery, the seventh-best opportunity.

Watching the unveiling of the lottery results raises the blood pressure some, but wouldn’t compare to actual competition to determine that top pick. It might sound like college basketball’s NIT but with real motivation to win.

Sixteen teams are playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Sixteen teams wish they were. Why not some serious incentive for the non-playoff teams?

Especially this year, with Connor Bedard the expected top pick and next great thing in the NHL.

Bad teams can make a good case that after six months of lousy hockey, do they really want to play more? There is an injury factor, of course, when you play more games after an already-long season.

Bad teams would have the opportunity to finish dismal seasons with a real payoff. If a team doesn’t get Bedard, Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Fantilli, of the University of Michigan, would be a nice consolation prize for the runner-up.

Play a single-elimination tournament, starting with intradivision games. Teams with the most regular-season points would get home-ice throughout the tournament.

The maximum number of games a team could play is four — and that only would be the finalists. Spread it out over 10 days and players would have plenty of rest.

For the Flyers (75 points), they would play the Capitals (80 points) in one Metropolitan Division semifinal. The Penguins (91) and Blue Jackets (59) would meet in the other semifinal.

Wouldn’t another Flyers-Penguins game, with meaning, be fun?

Survive the Metropolitan Division and face the Atlantic Division champ. The Sabres (91) would play the Canadiens (68), while the Senators (86) would face the Red Wings (80) in the Atlantic semis.

Trending. Insider: NHL would be happy to see Bedard with Flyers. light

Out West, the Predators (92) would play the Blackhawks (59), while the Blues (81) would face the Coyotes (70) in the Central Division.

In the Pacific, the Flames (93) would play the Ducks (58), while the Canucks (80) would play the Sharks (60).

If you really want to make it fun, have the championship be a best-of-three. Instead of tanking for Bedard, it would be quite the opposite.