One of the NHL’s largest sticking points ahead of its possible return to action this season might not be the logistics or scheduling of actual games, but rather the 2020 draft.
More than a week after deputy commissioner Bill Daly sent out a memo to team owners alerting them of the draft being moved up to early June with a tone of “take it or leave it,” a concrete date hasn’t been set as of yet.
The obvious issue that comes with holding the draft on either June 5 or 6 is that the 2019-20 NHL season will not have ended by then.
This year’s draft was originally scheduled for June 26-27, roughly two weeks after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.
But play has been halted since March 12 due to the coronavirus with teams still left to play between eight and 13 regular-season games. Not only does that provide an issue of how the league would divvy out playoff seeds if it decided to jump straight into the postseason, but a draft before the potential return of hockey means the order is very much up in the air.
It has created plenty of pushback from league executives and general managers in recent days.
“My thought is: Why would you do that? Why would you need to do that?” Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said during a Fox Sports Detroit Facebook Live chat earlier this month. “There’s a lot of things that are affected, obviously.”
“I have not talked to one GM who likes it, and I talk to almost all of them,” player agent Allan Walsh added (h/t Associated Press).
Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello admitted that while the unknown order creates uncertainty, his staff will be prepared regardless of when the draft takes place.
“If we were to draft in June, we’re ready for the draft,” Lamoriello said earlier this month (h/t Arthur Staple, The Athletic). “The only thing missing is the combine, so you have to go on what you’ve done all year long. We’ve had meetings to get ready, anticipating this might happen in June or a later date. It won’t change our ratings or our lists. Because of the schedules and viewings, also with the modern era we’re in — even though it’s not as good as watching in person — we can watch all the games of the junior teams. We do have time on our side. Our scouts are at home and that’s what they’re doing right now.”
Granted, Lamoriello and the Islanders don’t have a pick in either the first or second rounds after sending them to the Ottawa Senators earlier this year for Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
Based solely on point percentage, the 2020 NHL Draft order would be as follows:
- Detroit Red Wings
- Ottawa Senators
- Ottawa Senators (from SJ Sharks)
- Los Angeles Kings
- Anaheim Ducks
- New Jersey Devils
- Buffalo Sabres
- Montreal Canadiens
- Chicago Blackhawks
- New Jersey Devils (from AZ Coyotes)
- Minnesota Wild
- Winnipeg Jets
- New York Rangers
- Florida Panthers
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Calgary Flames
- New Jersey Devils (from VAN Canucks)
- Nashville Predators
- Carolina Hurricanes (from TOR Maple Leafs)
- Edmonton Oilers
- Ottawa Senators (from NY Islanders)
- Dallas Stars
- New York Rangers (from CAR Hurricanes)
- Minnesota Wild (from PIT Penguins)
- Philadelphia Flyers
- San Jose Sharks (from TB Lightning)
- Colorado Avalanche
- Vegas Golden Knights
- Washington Capitals
- St. Louis Blues
- Anaheim Ducks (from BOS Bruins)