FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo, Canada’s Alexis Lafreniere shoots during the team’s practice at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Lafrenière has nothing to do but wait now that his Canadian junior hockey season is over, and uncertainty over when the NHL draft will take place as a result of the new coronavirus. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo, Canada’s Alexis Lafreniere shoots during the team’s practice at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Lafrenière has nothing to do but wait now that his Canadian junior hockey season is over, and uncertainty over when the NHL draft will take place as a result of the new coronavirus. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Mixed feelings around hockey about holding NHL draft early

Salary caps, trades are among the issues

The NFL’s successful virtual draft and uncertainty surrounding the resumption of hockey this season have raised the possibility of an NHL draft held before the Stanley Cup Final.

After postponing its draft scheduled for June 26-27 in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL is considering having it earlier in June with the season in an indefinite suspension. There are mixed feelings among executives about the idea, ranging from frustration to begrudging acceptance.

“We’re just going to try to prepare as though it’s going to happen,” Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said. “It’s not going to be normal regardless of what it is, so we’re fine with whatever is decided.”

Unlike the NFL, which held its draft as usual in the middle of its off-season, the NHL would face several wrinkles going forward with a draft held before the season is complete: Teams would not be able to trade players, there would be a lack of clarity over next year’s salary cap and the draft order could be determined before all games are played.

It would put hockey back in the spotlight for a couple of days. It would create plenty of headaches for those involved.

“I have not talked to one GM who likes it, and I talk to almost all of them,” agent Allan Walsh said Thursday.

A week after the league sent a memo to teams outlining its proposal, Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly on Friday said a decision has not made on the timing of the draft. GMs have asked for a month’s notice before holding a draft.

“My thought is: Why would you do that? Why do you need to do that?” Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said on Fox Sports Detroit. “I haven’t 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.”

Yzerman’s Red Wings could actually benefit from an adjusted draft lottery that gives him better odds at the top pick, likely Alexis Lafreniere. But he pointed to a litany of unknowns, including who’s in and out of the playoffs and how the draft order is determined.

There’s also the matter of the 2020-21 salary cap, which was initially projected at $84 million but is now expected to be set at the current $81.5 million or less.

“The draft serves a lot of different purposes in giving GMs the tools to build their roster for the next year apart from just drafting seven rounds of players,” Walsh said. “The cap teams — the Torontos, the Tampas — are going to have to move at least one big contract to make it work. And the time to do it is at the draft. But you can’t do it under a first week or second week of June scenario when you don’t know if the season is cancelled or whether we are really going to come back and play.”

READ MORE: B.C. Premier Horgan reaches out to NHL to offer place to play if hockey returns

Daly said the NHL still hasn’t decided when to allow players to return to team training facilities for small group workouts, which would be the first step toward a return. The league continues to work internally and with the NHL Players’ Association on various scenarios, including resuming at three or four empty NHL arenas and pushing the start of next season back to December.

With that in mind, Los Angeles GM Rob Blake said the Kings are “quite comfortable with either scenario” of the draft happening in June or later. Many of his colleagues are in the same boat.

“We’ll have to work with it, obviously,” Blake said. “The one thing we know for sure is nothing will be status quo, so whether it’s prior in June or later, you’re going to have to make the necessary adjustments.”

___

Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eva Pucci Couture in this file shot from May 29, 2019, when she came to Chilliwack asking for the public’s help in locating her missing son, Kristofer Shawn Couture. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Missing man’s mom still hopeful, 2 years after his car was found abandoned at Chilliwack trail

‘I wish someone would come forward with insight into your whereabouts,’ pleads mom of missing man

Chilliwack is expected to be among the province’s hottest real estate markets in 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Chilliwack housing market projected to be among B.C.’s hottest in 2021

B.C. Real Estate Association projects Chilliwack and District to grow by 17.1 per cent

Abbotsford tattoo artist Tanya Loewen has entered the Inked cover girl contest.
Abbotsford mother, tattoo artist enters Inked cover girl contest

Tanya Loewen, tattoo artist at Van Bree Tattoo, hoping to win big in magazine contest

Sheriff Avory Chapman was last seen Jan. 20 on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack. (RCMP)
RCMP look for missing man last seen in downtown Chilliwack

21-year-old Sheriff Avory Chapman has been missing since Jan. 20

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read