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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL proposes holding the Draft in early June

On Friday night, the NHL circulated a memo to its 31 teams explaining their pitch for holding the NHL Entry Draft in early June, before reaching any conclusion on the 2019-20 season. As you’d expect, there are a lot of questions and a lot to get to.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the league says it will need about a month to prepare for the annual entry draft and the rumoured date they’ve got their eyes on is Friday, June 5th. From the league’s standpoint, if they don’t hold the Draft sooner than later, they will need to cram it in between the end of the current year and the start of the 2020-21 season, which they’d prefer to avoid. That said, putting the cart before the horse obviously creates an array of issues (we’ll get there in a bit).

As for how to conduct the draft and keep it as fair as possible, the NHL has some ideas:

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  • For conditional trades, the league would propose solutions to both sides. The teams would then have seven days to either reform the deal on terms acceptable to both, or accept the NHL’s idea. Oilers fans would obviously be keeping an eye on this one as there is a conditional 3rd round pick involved in the Neal for Lucic deal.
  • Using each team’s points percentage to determine the draft order. (That’s under the current playoff format, so 16 teams would be out of the lottery and 15 would be in.)
  • Changing the lottery format this season only and picking just one winner, limiting any move-up to a maximum of four spots.

Assuming this is the way the Draft would go, the Oilers were sitting 12th overall in points percentage when the league shut down which means they would be picking somewhere around 20th overall. And since this year’s draft class is said to be quite deep, the likelihood of picking up a quality piece in that spot remains high. So far, things are making sense until you start thinking about what it actually means to hold the draft, a major trading juncture in the league at this point, before awarding the Stanley Cup.

A major concern, obviously, is that a June draft held before the season resumed would prevent teams from trading players and picks that they normally would in any normal year. According to Friedman’s article, the league did a deep dive into the past five drafts and found that there were 106 trades with just over half of them being able to fly even if the draft had been held before the end of the season. So maybe it could work?

According to NHL Deputy Commissioner, Billy Daly:

“While this is certainly a valid concern, the fact of the matter is that whenever we hold the 2020 Draft — in early June or ‘shoehorned’ into a short window in October or November — (it) is not going to be a typical NHL Draft. It is not going to look the same, it is not going to feel the same, and it is not going to be the same. While we may know more about next year’s landscape in terms of CBA, Salary Cap, and Escrow in November than we will in June, we are still not going to know everything, and there is still going to be a multitude of questions that have no answers. So, any comparison of the 2020 NHL Draft to a typical year’s Draft is not — and cannot be — an ‘apples to apples’ comparison.”

I’ve said it a bunch of times over the past little while, but it’s been incredible to follow along as the major sports leagues do what they can to resume play even if it means throwing all convention out the window, a sentiment echoed by Daly.

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“Quite frankly, whatever we decide to do, there is no way, under these most unusual circumstances, for us to maintain the ‘status quo.’”

In addition to the article put out by Elliotte Friedman, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun added that there will be a board of governors call on Monday where they will discuss the proposed ideas with a decision expected to come at some point next week. We wait.