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Around the League: NHL to adopt new decentralized draft format

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
6 months ago
The NHL’s 32 clubs have voted to adopt a new decentralized format for the annual Entry Draft that will do away with having a single host city for the event, according to a memo sent out by the league on Wednesday.
The new format would see the NHL move in line with the NBA, NFL, and MLB, with each of the 32 teams conducting business remotely from its own war room.
The draft has historically been a party-like event wherein executives for every team have descended upon one city to conduct business in the public setting of an arena, with fans and prospects in attendance.
Under the new set-up, there is still expected to be a centralized location where prospects and certain club representatives will converge, but most of the work is now expected to be done from afar.
Daily Faceoff‘s Frank Seravalli shared some additional insight in a column published on Wednesday:
Those COVID-era Drafts proved that the NHL could pull it off technologically, and virtually might be the best business practice for teams. Some GMs loathe the relative invasion of privacy, being forced to make all-important franchise decisions in an arena filled with fans while sitting just steps away from competitors, while others voted based on economics and time constraints.
Free agency typically opens in the days following the Draft, leaving front offices to scurry back to the hometown – where they will then soon after conduct development camps for their top prospects. That created both a logistical headache and significant expense to send everyone from home city for meetings to the draft host city, and then back to their home facility again.
The NHL has not yet nailed down a host site for the 2024 Draft, prompting the league to take the temperature of clubs in that formal poll last week. The Draft itself is still expected to include a party-like atmosphere for top prospects and a small smattering of club representatives in a designated host city. However, decentralizing the Draft will allow the NHL to seek out newer and cooler venues to host the celebration.
The 2023 NHL Draft took place at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, with Connor Bedard being announced as the No. 1 pick.
Next year’s event will be the 64th iteration of the NHL Draft, which has settled in at seven rounds after originally starting at four and expanding to as many as 25 during the 1970s. Montreal exclusively hosted the draft until 1984, when the league started to shift hosting duties between each of its host cities.
Vancouver hosted the draft for the first time in 1990, which saw Owen Nolan go first overall to the Quebec Nordiques inside B.C. Place. The Canucks hosted the event for a second time in 2006, this time at what was then called GM Place, as Erik Johnson went to the St. Louis Blues with the top selection.
Finally, in 2019, the Canucks hosted the event for a third time, as Jack Hughes — Quinn’s brother — went to the New Jersey Devils at No. 1 overall. That year, Vancouver selected forward Vasily Podkolzin with the No. 10 pick.

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