The NFL held their 2020 draft April 23-25th via video conferencing, and the world’s most lucrative Zoom call was broadcast live on ESPN, ABC, and the NFL Network, and it drew solid ratings. People are sports starved. More people watched this year’s draft than last year’s NFL draft - over 15 million people viewed it.
It’s hard for the NHL to see that and postpone the draft until a live one can be held. No one knows when everyone can be together in one room again, and the NBC networks and NHL Networks are airing classic games. As much as I enjoyed watching the 2017 Winter Classic again, people really want new hockey content.
The city of Montreal is going to have to wait a bit to host the draft, because the NHL is strongly considering following the route that the NFL took. Per ESPN, deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly sent a memo out to all 31 teams pushing a June virtual draft. To accommodate any season re-starting and workout camps, the league is looking at a June 5th draft date. This way, teams will be able to focus on scouting reports and drafting, instead of trying to hold a draft on-top of a fresh season starting.
The NHL will be using points percentage to determine seeding in the 15 non-playoff teams as of the suspension of the season in March. The lottery will determine just the first overall pick this year, and teams can only move up four spots. As Greg Wyshniski points out in the ESPN piece, that means that the Detroit Red Wings will either be drafting first or second overall.
Trades of active players are obviously a no-go, since the trade deadline has already passed, so those of you who were looking forward to another Doug Armstrong draft day special for the Blues can hold on to those hopes until 2021.