The 2021 NHL Draft is currently set for July 23-24. That date could change due to a number of factors, and one idea that is reportedly growing within the league is pushing the entire event back a year.
Are you ready for potential back-to-back drafts? That’s been the talk, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
“I will say this, there’s no guarantee that the NHL is going to host the  draft in July,” Dreger said on Insider Trading this week. “There’s lots of talk across the National Hockey League about the draft being pushed from 2021 – this summer – to 2022 – the summer – and the NHL hosting back-to-back drafts. NHL general managers are very much in favor of this and you got to think the 2021 draft eligible players would also be in favor of it, given the fact a majority of these kids aren’t playing hockey right now. But, keep in mind this is a CBA-related issue, the NHLPA is not involved yet, but they will have to get involved if there’s change.”
Yes, that would mean 2021 eligible prospects selected in one draft, and 2022 prospects picked a few days later. Draft orders would be made up by the respective results of each season tied to that year’s draft-eligible players.
Games to help evaluations
Another idea, which could keep the the 2021 draft this year, is a small tournament, which Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston brought up on Hockey Night in Canada two weeks ago. That would help teams and scouts with evaluations and give them a little insight into the prospects.
“One thing that has been discussed is a tournament, a series of games, what have you, at some point in the spring, in which those players could play,” he said. “Obviously you could invite scouts or have them watch from a safe distance through video, but it might be a way to get some eyeballs on these guys, because it’s been a tough year on those teenagers, too.”
Many junior leagues are not playing, but even if they were right now there would be difficulties in getting scouts to travel for evaluations.
[2020 NHL Draft: Complete results, list of picks for Rounds 1-7]
There are pros and cons with holding two drafts in the summer of 2022. First, would that require teams to add to their scouting staffs or increase the workload on current scouts to track two age groups? What are the costs that come with that? For the players, it would allow some to boost their draft stock. Pushing the draft back a year won’t hurt Owen Power, who’s expected to be the No. 1 pick for this year’s class, but other kids could — if they are back to playing soon enough — move up with strong seasons.
The continued COVID-19 pandemic will ensure further discussions are needed from all parties. Teams are continuing to plan for a 2021 NHL Draft in July and any changes would have to be agreed upon by both the league and the NHLPA.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.