The NHL is expected to render a decision on holding a June Draft by the end of this week or early next week, but all indications point to the league going ahead with the 2020 draft sometime in early June. While the move makes sense for the league as a whole, by providing a much-needed payday and an opportunity to take sports center stage, many of the league’s general managers, including Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan, are not happy about the idea.
“I think most of the managers would like it to happen in a natural order,” MacLellan said Wednesday during an appearance on the Athletic’s Two-Man Advantage podcast.
“There’s a natural order of business, there’s a rhythm to it. Some teams use that time to reset their roster, it’s a way to manage your roster and cap situation for next season, it’s a way to make trades. A lot of decisions are based on how you concluded your previous season. So, if you go into the playoffs and maybe a weakness is identified or you weren’t as successful as you were (hoping) and you need to make changes and the draft seems to be an area where you can accomplish those things before next season.”
🎙️Brian MacLellan, GM of @Capitals joined @PierreVLeBrun & @OvertimeScottB on Two Man Advantage @TheAthleticDC. Mac talks #nhldraft2020, #Allcaps a playoff favorite, @ovi8‘s legacy & quarantine haircuts!🎧⬇️@TheAthleticNHL: https://t.co/t1bvoZ45pu
— Jeff Domet (@jeffdomet) May 6, 2020
But MacLellan sees the big picture. The league needs to begin recovering losses accrued from the stoppage for the COVID-19 pandemic. An online, virtual draft, similar to the NHL’s recent draft, would mean a much needed payday for the NHL. It will also give the league the center stage in a time when sports content is extremely scarce.
“I also understand this is a business, it’s a league business,” MacLellan said. “The commissioner and the league have some business decisions to make, there’s national rights holders, there’s a national audience that’s looking for some content and there’s an opportunity for the league to sell our draft, to introduce the draft to people that don’t normally watch it possibly. So I think there’s probably a little tug of war. … The commissioner will make his decision and we’ll work with that. We’ll work within the guidelines he sets out.”
The NHL issued a memo to teams last Friday, which stated that the 2020 NHL Draft could be done before the 2019-20 season resumes. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman told NHL Network earlier this week that this draft will be done electronically, like what the NFL did last week.
“Quite frankly, whatever we decide to do, there is no way, under these most unusual circumstances, for us to maintain the ‘status quo,’” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in the memo.
To make the lottery as fair as possible, if the rest of the season cannot be completed, the NHL has proposed:
- Using each team’s points percentage to determine the order of selection (That is under the current Stanley Cup 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
- 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
Another concern of having the draft at the beginning of June is that it would keep teams from trading players they would need if the season resumes. Daly hinted that the NHL’s research of the last five draft days showed that there were 106 trades conducted and only 64 would have been allowed to happen had the draft taken place before the end of the season.
“While this is certainly a valid concern,” Daly continues, “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. 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.”
By Jon Sorensen