The NHL hasn’t yet made a decision about when – or how – to hold its draft, which was scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal. Same goes for the NHL draft lottery, originally set for April 9, before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
But while league officials continue to game out scenarios for trying to complete the regular season and hold some version of the Stanley Cup playoffs this summer, they also have floated the possibility of staging a virtual draft in June even before that. It was discussed on a conference call with NHL general managers last week, and Gary Bettman later spoke at length about that and various other options under consideration in a Sportsnet interview.
Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman, whose team owns the league’s worst record and a healthy shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, remains unconvinced that’s the right idea.
“I think ultimately they’ll decide what makes the most sense depending on what the ultimate conditions are,” Yzerman said in a Facebook Live interview preceding Fox Sports Detroit’s rebroadcast of the Red Wings' Stanley Cup-clinching Game 4 victory in 1997. “Obviously, the draft has never taken place prior to the end of the Stanley Cup or the end of the season. We don’t know when that’s gonna be. It was just suggested possibly, you know, we’ve got all these things on the list, ‘Should we consider getting the draft out of the way early?’
“My thought is why would you do that, why would you need to do that? There’s a lot of things that are affected, obviously. The draft position hasn’t been established, we don’t know who’s in the playoffs, or who’s out of the playoffs, in some cases. So if there’s a lot of questions, and ultimately if it needs to be done prior to, we’ll figure it out. But at this time, my own opinion is I haven’t really heard a good reason why we should do it prior to the end of the season, if we do conclude the season over the course of the summer.”