NHL finalizes dates for 2020 draft, opening of free agency period

The NHL has announced official dates for the 2020 draft and the opening of the free agency period this off-season.

As we’ve seen with other sports, the 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually. Round 1 will take place Tuesday, Oct. 6 beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Rounds 2-7 will be held Wednesday, Oct. 7 beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET. Both days will air on NBCSN.

The Rangers won Phase 2 of the 2020 draft lottery last month and will select first overall. Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) winger Alexis Lafreniere is expected to go No. 1.

[RELATED: Rangers’ rebuild gets another significant piece]

ROUND 1 ORDER
1. New York Rangers
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose)
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Ottawa Senators
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Minnesota Wild
10. Winnipeg Jets
11. Nashville Predators
12. Florida Panthers
13. Carolina Hurricanes (via Toronto)
14. Edmonton Oilers
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Pittsburgh)

The final 16 picks will be finalized following the conclusion of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

October Free Agent Frenzy

At 12 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 9, the NHL free agent market will open.

On that day unrestricted free agents like Taylor Hall, Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug, Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom could find new homes if they don’t sign extensions with their current teams. And if you’re Marc Bergevin, restricted free agents like Mathew Barzal, Dominik Kubalik, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Anthony Cirelli are eligible for offer sheets.

The NHL salary cap ceiling for the 2020-21 season will remain at $81.5M, which will make for an interesting market for teams who need to shed dollars due to raises or to add new players.

[RELATED: Looking at the top 2020 free agents]

For teams looking to create some space and/or have roster decisions to make at certain positions — Hello, Rangers! — the NHL buyout window will open Sept. 25 and close Oct. 8. The closing date could be six days after the Stanley Cup Final concludes if that date is later.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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