NHL issues memo about potentially conducting June draft

Sporting News

The NHL has issued a memo to its teams stating the league's position on potentially holding the draft in June, according to a report from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

The rumored date for the draft is June 5, giving the league a month to prepare. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated that broadcast networks are on board with the plan; the memo also suggested ways to make the draft as fair as possible.

First, the league would propose solutions for conditional trades with the teams, having seven days to either change the deal to include terms acceptable to both or accept the NHL's solution. One notable trade with conditional picks is between the Oilers and Flames. As part of the Milan Lucic-James Neal trade, Calgary received a conditional third-round pick from Edmonton, contingent on Neal scoring at least 21 goals in 2019-20 and at least 10 more goals than Lucic.

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With the season paused, Neal and Lucic stand at 19 and eight goals, respectively.

MORE: Lafreniere rated as top North American skater

In order to determine the draft order, the league would use each team's points percentage to determine who picks first; the draft lottery format for this season would involve picking just the winner and limiting any move-up to a maximum of four spots. For example, the Red Wings, who had the league's worst record at the pause, would pick no lower than second overall. Ottawa, who owns its own selection and San Jose's, would pick no worse than third and fourth overall.

Friedman said he could see the lottery format as "hotly contested" by teams, with Canadian forward Alexis Lafreniere the projected No. 1 pick by Sporting News' Steve Kournianos.

Another concern is if a June draft would prevent teams from trading players. In the memo, Daly said of the 106 trades completed over the last five drafts, 64 would have been similarly permissible had the draft been conducted before the end of the season.

"While this is certainly a valid concern, the fact of the matter is that whenever we hold the 2020 Draft — in early June or 'shoehorned' into a short window in October or November — it is not going to be a typical NHL Draft," Daly said. "It is not going to look the same; it is not going to feel the same and it is not going to be the same. While we may know more about next year's landscape in terms of CBA, salary cap, escrow, etc., in November than we will in June, we are still not going to know everything and there is still going to be a multitude of questions that have no answers.

"So any comparison of the 2020 NHL Draft to a typical year's draft is not — and cannot be — an 'apples to apples' comparison."

In a conference call with reporters on April 24, Flames general manager Brad Treliving conceded the draft might have to be held before the 2019-20 season concluded.

"The first thing we all have to recognize is that we're not in a perfect position or perfect world," Treliving said. "So at some point, you got to start checking off some of these boxes. There's going to be a lot to be done so you can't just keep kicking the can down the road."

Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman was skeptical of the June draft idea Wednesday.

"My thought is why would you do that, why would you need to do that?" Yzerman said in a Facebook Live interview. "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 payoffs, 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."

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