Chicago will host its first NHL Draft in 2017.
The announcement was made by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Blackhawks alumnus turned TV analyst Eddie Olczyk at United Center Thursday afternoon.
In addition to the prospects, scouts and club executives, more than 15,000 fans and hundreds media members are expected to attend the event, which takes place June 23-24, 2017.
“The energy and passion Chicago has for the Blackhawks makes United Center the ideal setting for the 2017 NHL Draft,” Bettman said. “The draft will be one of the central moments of our centennial, and the NHL family is looking forward to bringing this signature event to Chicago for the first time.”
The Original Six city plays home to one of the most rabid hockey fan bases and has hosted three Stanley Cup finals, a Winter Classic and a Stadium Series game in the last eight years.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had also made a push to host the 2017 NHL Draft, All-Star Game and Winter Classic in conjunction with their own centennial season.
The 2017 All-Star Game was awarded to Los Angeles. The 2016 NHL Draft takes place in Buffalo.
“Considering the NHL’s global reach,” said Mayor Emanuel, “hosting the draft here will further put Chicago on the global stage, attracting visitors from around the world and all of the economic opportunities for our city that they bring.”
The location of the 2017 Winter Classic has yet to be announced, but St. Louis (potentially versus Chicago) and Toronto are said to be the leading candidates.
The 2017 Draft comes on the heels of the United Center co-hosting the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four tournament in April.