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NHL Notebook: Could the draft get shortened to four rounds?

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
1 month ago
One of hockey’s biggest events is about to take centre stage as the 2024 NHL Entry Draft is inching closer and closer every day. Amongst the excitement, some are questioning whether or not seven rounds is necessary.
As a new generation of players gets their turn to watch their dreams come true, NHL teams get the opportunity to make considerable moves for the future of their organization, and fans get to welcome a new face or two to their franchise. As exciting as the draft is, it is a lengthy event with 224 players selected across 32 franchises for seven rounds and two days.
But what’s been seen over time in the market in the past, players who are later round picks are tied to a team but may wind up not receiving a contract from them.
On Sunday’s episode of Sportsnet‘s 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman revealed that some are beginning to question whether shortening the draft could benefit players entering the NHL more.
“There are some agents that believe, maybe even the PA believes it, we’ll find out more about it, that the draft should be shortened to four rounds,” he said.
“If you look at the players that don’t get contracts, very few of them are high picks, most of them are later picks.”
Following last year’s entry Draft, only 65 of the 224 players are currently signed to an entry-level deal with an NHL team, which reinforces the idea that most players who receive those deals are higher picks. Friedman believes that they may be taking away a player’s future. 104 of 225 players from 2022 signed, 121 of 224 from 2021 signed, and 141 of 217 from 2020 signed.
“Why would they want players to be tied into teams for two to four years and then not get a contract,” he said. “They almost think it’s like holding up a player from really beginning their NHL career or putting themselves in the best situation.”
Friedman continued explaining that a resolution to the problem could be for players to become free agents and pick their organization once the draft ends.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement is still active until the 2025-26 season is completed. However, narrowing down the draft may be something worth discussing in the coming years.
The 2024 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 28-29 at The Sphere in Las Vegas. It will be the last time the draft is held in-person and will become a remote event moving forward.

Flames Jacob Markstrom may be a potential target for Maple Leafs

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom may be heading for a new place to call home this coming summer following an incomplete move before the trade deadline.
Markstrom has two years remaining on his six-year $36-million deal with the Flames, which he signed in October 2020.
The 34-year-old netminder nearly became a New Jersey Devil just a few short months ago, but the deal fell through when Flames ownership realized they would have to retain some of Markstroms salary.
On Sunday’s episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman gave an update on the goaltender and suggested that the Toronto Maple Leafs may be one team on Markstrom’s radar.
Jeff Marek: The one thing that everybody wants as well, one thing everybody — well, a lot of teams, anyhow — is looking for is net-minding. So much of the conversation there has, for the past six months, I suppose, maybe longer, revolved around Jacob Markstrom and the Calgary Flames. Is there a latest on Jacob Markstrom and the Calgary Flames?
Elliotte Friedman: I think the thing here is that it was so crazy during the season. Calgary is trying to do this as quietly as possible. That’s not going to be easy. I mean, good luck with that at this time of the year. […] But they just know what a rollercoaster it was for everybody involved, including the player and themselves, and I think they’re really, really trying to avoid it. But there’s definitely something going on — I mean, New Jersey, Fitzgerald’s on record as saying he will consider moving his 10th overall pick, and I know a lot of people are looking at in goal.
A couple of other teams I wonder about there, too, anybody looking for a goalie, but a couple of teams I wonder about: Toronto, and I know deals with Toronto and Calgary are kind of complicated, but the GM in Toronto is the guy who signed Markstrom in Calgary and, just on paper, a Markstrom-[Joseph] Woll combination is a pretty good combination. So, I look at that and I say, ‘I could see why a team like Toronto would be interested in that, potentially.’ And the other team that I think is in on almost every goalie conversation is Ottawa. Now, I don’t know how Markstrom feels about that, but I was told every conversation that involves a goalie, you have to have Ottawa around it. Now, the thing about Markstrom is trading for him, he’s basically a two times $6 [million] player you’re trading for, and if your choice is trading for a goalie, especially him with that contract, or going out and signing someone in free agency that might be a bigger number, you’re very happy to take [Markstrom]. So I can understand why there’d be a lot of interest in Markstrom, but obviously a lot of people are suspecting New Jersey and there’s a few teams that suspect Toronto and Ottawa.
Markstrom posted a 23-23-2 record this season with a .905 save percentage with the Flames. He was originally selected 31st overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2008 NHL Draft. He spent almost four seasons with the club before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks until he signed as a free agent with the Flames.

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