On Friday, the National Hockey League circulated a memo to its member clubs explaining their hopes and dreams for an entry draft that would be held relatively soon – as early as early June, before any resumption of play. As you can imagine, hockey’s crack team of news insiders got hold of said memo.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman broke down the nuts and bolts of the memo.
Per Friedman, here’s the gist: the league needs about a month to prepare for the draft and the rumour is the date they’re targeting is June 5 – that’s a Friday, so presumably it’d be a two-day draft like usual except, y’know, virtual.
The thought process for the league is thus: if they don’t do it now, then they’d have to cram it into a post-season period of indeterminate time and duration – maybe September, maybe later – and they might still not have answers for the things that give some GMs pause about this plan. There’s no ideal scenario, so they likely figure “Hey, let’s just simplify life down the line.”
As for how to conduct the draft, well, they have some ideas:
To make it as fair as possible, the league has suggested:
• For conditional trades, the league would propose solutions. The teams would have seven days to either reform the deal on terms acceptable to both, or accept the NHL’s idea.
• Using each team’s points percentage to determine the Order of Selection. (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 — picking just one winner, and limiting any move-up to a maximum of four spots.
The Flames are currently 13th in points percentage, dropping down a spot from a tie with the New York Rangers due to the regulation win tiebreaker. Under this plan, they’d be in the draft lottery but (a) wouldn’t have great odds and (b) could only jump up to 9th spot.
(If playoff positioning per conference factored in, the Flames would drop to 16th as the playoff team with the worst points percentage.)
And obviously, the subject of conditional picks would come up. The Flames could receive a conditional pick from the Milan Lucic/James Neal trade, while they’ll be giving up the higher of their third round picks to Chicago via the Erik Gustafsson trade.
Speaking via conference call on Friday afternoon, Flames GM Brad Treliving shared that the team will be finalizing their draft prep this coming weekend and then will move onto their final “combine” interviews with key players. He feels comfortable with his club’s prep and he watched the NFL and CFL drafts to get a sense of the process.
“The biggest difference to me that I see from those drafts is player movement,” said Treliving. “There’s not as much player movement in those drafts as there are in ours, in terms of trades and transactions. So that’s a little bit different.”
He also mentioned the uncertainty around the many conditional picks, as well as the cap uncertainty combining with the uniqueness of the NHL calendar where clubs make “financially-driven” deals where teams adjust their rosters to accommodate the upcoming salary cap picture. For a league that’s very regimented with its annual routines, it would obviously be a departure from the norm.
“It’s a different landscape of a draft taking place and then a season still to conclude, rather than having a draft in the quote-unquote off-season.”