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NHL Draft Targeted For June 5

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly sent out a memo to all 31 teams regarding this year’s entry-level draft. The league is striving for a June 5 target date for the draft. This would be three weeks earlier than the scheduled dates of June 26-27 in Montreal. The draft would be a virtual draft just how the WNBA and NFL did their recent drafts.


The NHL proposed that they would use points percentages to determine the 15 “non-playoff” teams in the draft lottery rather than using total points in the standings. Meaning that they would use the percentage of available points each team had in games played before March 12. This helps teams’ concerns about having an uneven amount of games played before the season was paused. One concern some general managers have is that a team that gets the top draft pick could, in theory, also win the Stanley Cup since the NHL hasn’t decided on if they’re going to extend the Stanley Cup Playoffs this summer.


Alexis Lafreniere

Alexis Lafreniere, a left wing forward who plays for Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is expected to go number one in this year’s NHL Draft. Image courtesy: NHL

The NHL proposed a tweak to the draft lottery this year: The league would go back to a previous lottery format and select just the first overall pick rather than holding lotteries for each of the top three picks. Teams that win the lottery can only move up four spots. For example, the Detroit Red Wings have the league’s worst record and could only pick first or second overall.


Another concern for general managers is the handling of conditional picks. In the memo, the league proposed acting like a de facto arbitrator for teams. This would force teams to reform the conditions of the trade or accept the league’s proposed remedy within seven days.


The main concern for general managers is their ability to make trades during the draft. This includes making trades to help with salary cap problems. If the draft were to happen on June 5, teams wouldn’t be able to trade players from their roster due to trade deadline and playoff eligibility restrictions. An analysis conducted by the NHL says that roughly one-half of draft trades “would still have to have been permissible in the context of an ‘early Draft.’” There were 106 draft trades made and 64 of those deals still would’ve happened had the draft been held before the season ended in any of those five years.

The proposal was sent out to all 31 teams after a board of governors call on Monday. Daly writes in the memo that “we [NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Daly, and board of governors] have concluded that we will need a minimum of one-month lead time in order to plan and conduct a sophisticated and compelling Virtual Draft, and therefore, the earliest we could execute an early Draft would be sometime during the first half of June.”

The league should be making a decision about the entry-level draft next week. The NHL has been wanting to hold the draft in early June to give fans something to be excited about. “We think it’s a great opportunity for fan engagement,” Daly says. “Fans have been missing NHL hockey for a month and a half. It’ll be three months when we get to June.”

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