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WWYDW: Making the NHL Draft a TV Spectacle

While the big question on everybody’s mind is when (or if) the NHL is going to be able to resume the 2019-20 season and crown a Stanley Cup Champion, the league has also quietly been mulling over what they should do about the draft.

Over the weekend, a report came out that claimed the NHL had sent out a memo to all teams with a pitch for holding the draft in early June. The plan would involve using points percentage to determine the draft order and doing an old fashioned style lottery in which only one winner was drawn and that team could only move up a maximum of four spots.

There are obviously issues with jumping ahead and doing the draft so quickly, but you can see why the league would be interested in doing so. There’s no doubt that the NHL was paying attention when 55 million people tuned in to watch the NFL’s virtual draft in late-April.

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With virtually zero competition on television and people starving for sports content beyond replays of old games, the NHL would have a chance to grab massive viewership numbers, making the league money in the short-term while also potentially expanding its footprint to new viewers.

But, the difference here is the NHL draft isn’t the NFL draft. Outside of the Super Bowl, the NFL draft is probably the second-biggest thing on the league’s calendar. It’s a three-day-long behemoth and the first round is a perennially high-watched television spectacle. Hosting it this year when there was nothing else to watch simply added fuel to the fire.

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That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday ACTUALLY ON A WEDNESDAY EDITION question. What can the NHL do to spice up the draft to make it an exciting television spectacle? Should the league just focus on getting the job done? Or should they use this as an opportunity to try something new for the sake of generating interest?

If the league really wanted to lean into chaos and make the draft completely wild, they would go with a full lottery system for the first round. Imagine tuning in on Thursday evening to see the entire draft order selected from 31st overall to 1st overall with each team having some shot at the top pick and then watching the draft go down on Friday night and Saturday.

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That draft lottery would rake in viewers. But, obviously, teams would never go for that. Imagine if the Oilers won that lottery with the 20th-highest odds? Woof.

One thing I figure is necessary to add some excitement to the draft is allowing trades. A key part of the NFL draft is all of the movement that happens over the course of the weekend, whether it’s teams moving players to get more picks or teams trading down in order to hoard selections at the back of the draft.

The NHL’s trade deadline has obviously gone by, but allowing teams to make trades would certainly make things more interesting. The difficulty here, of course, is that the league is still aiming to execute the playoffs in the coming months, and without knowing who is and who isn’t going to be in the playoffs, GMs would be skeptical of taking risks on deals.

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What say you, Nation? What should the NHL do to spice up the draft? Is it best to just let it be?