Photo courtesy of the Canadian Hockey League
With the recent news of the NHL and NHLPA agreeing upon a return-to-play format, it comes with the hope that certain timelines will follow in the near future. That means an increase in the amount of pre-draft hype that will circulate most social media platforms, where any avid fantasy hockey participant will have their eyes peeled to the trends that will help in preparation for their own drafts.
At this point in time it is still too early to say what format the NHL will take in outlining a lottery system for those seven teams that will not be playing in the 24-team playoff format: Detroit, Ottawa, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, New Jersey or Buffalo. It is also still a possibility for teams that will participate in the play-in round may also be allowed to be a part of the lottery.
Here are some things to keep in mind that the NHL is still trying to iron out with respect to the entry draft:
- One of the biggest issues concerning the time the draft is held is that certain NHL teams are in a position to trade players and picks to set themselves up for future years. For instance, the Montreal Canadiens have 14 picks (the Ottawa Senators have 13) in this year’s draft and could package those for a roster player in the 2020-21 season. If the draft happens prior to the 2020 playoffs, will trading for players be allowed?
- Draft-eligible prospects want to know which team drafts them so that they can better prepare for 2020-21 training camps. Although there are only a handful of players that may make the cut and play in the NHL next season, players would prefer instruction from their respective NHL team in terms of workout regimes and a small percentage of players that can decide which league to participate in.
- If the draft is held prior to the resumption of NHL play, will drafted players be eligible to play in the 2019-20 playoffs? That seems unlikely, but it is still on the table at this point in time.
- A small percentage of NHL scouts will have the contracts they signed with NHL organizations expire in the next month. How will that work if/when the expiration date happens prior to the draft? Could the contracts be extended for a brief period of time?
- I have heard musings whether a draft can be done in segments. Would it be possible to allow the seven teams that will not be participating in the 24-team format to hold their draft at a different date compared to other NHL teams? It would allow the NHL to take the center stage multiple times throughout the next several months and give hockey writers and journalists much to speculate about in the meantime.
- Some leagues – primarily the Russian MHL and KHL – start earlier than others and may require contract obligations from draft-eligible prospects. This could increase the ‘Russian factor’