NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said during a press conference Thursday the 2021 NHL Draft will “more likely than not” go on as scheduled in July.
It had previously been reported that while the NHL and the Players' Association continued discussing the logistics of staging the draft, a number of teams indicated a desire to push it back to a later date and possibly even into 2022.
“There’s no shortage of opinions certainly among our constituents and certainly on the players side — whether it be the agents or the Players’ Association — with respect to the 2021 draft,” Daly said.
Due to various COVID-related restrictions around the world, it has been a unique start to the season both on the player development side and on the scouting front with some leagues currently still on hiatus.
“It’s certainly an imperfect situation but we’ve been dealing with imperfect situations since at least March 12 of last year,” Daly said. “In that respect it’s not a lot different than some of the other things we’ve had to do. It’s a complicated issue. It implicates a lot of different provisions of our collective bargaining agreement and it’s difficult to work through those issues.”
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported in February during a Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada there were several concerns to pushing back the draft.
“Among the concerns are: If you move the draft back, will players still have to wait seven years until unrestricted free agency?” Friedman said. “Will they be able to move down to six? Also, if you're drafted out of the CHL, you've got to have two years until you re-enter the draft. Will that be kept the same or will it be dropped down to one? These are the kinds of issues that they're going to have to solve and I think it's going to be a big challenge.”
Earlier this week, the NHL proposed multiple changes to its draft lottery format. The league presented the proposed tweaks in a memo sent to the 31 teams Monday.
“I would expect we will put it to a formal vote electronically in the next several days and we should have an answer to what the draft lottery looks like in the near future as well,” Daly added.