Speaking via email to The Buffalo News, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league had no specific comments on Thursday night's overtime loss to Arizona as questions continue to surround the way both teams have been sliding down the stretch to angle for the top spot in the league's draft lottery. Buffalo fans openly cheered for all four Arizona goals in the Coyotes' 4-3 win.
The Sabres are 1-7-3 since the trade deadline while Arizona was in a 1-17-1 abyss until winning back-to-back overtime games in Detroit and Buffalo.
"This entire story and angle is overblown and exaggerated. I am quite certain that there was not a single participant in last night's contest that wasn't trying to win the game," Daly wrote. "The fact that fans may be looking longer term and bigger picture is not surprising, and ultimately, is really up to them.
Daly reiterated the league is comfortable with the changes to the odds for the draft lottery this year. They drop the odds for the No. 1 pick to 20 percent.
"That means there is an 80% chance they won't get that pick," Daly wrote. "I'm not sure how those odds could possibly be argued to incentivize a Club to finish last in the League, or lose games on a nightly basis."
(Of course, Daly did not mention teams are incentivized this year by the fact they're guaranteed the No. 2 pick. That loophole is closed for 2016, when the 30th place team could drop to No. 4)
Daly said he believed the major media scrutiny is unique to this draft, without specificially naming Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid. He said the league is also also happy with the changes made for the 2016 Draft in Buffalo, when the lottery will choose the top three slots.
"Ultimately, it was the decision that our Managers and ultimately our Board felt most comfortable with," Daly said.