Goodbye to the centralized NHL draft, which plans to go remote next year

Goodbye to the centralized NHL draft, which plans to go remote next year

Goodbye to the centralized NHL draft, which plans to go remote next year

LAS VEGAS — Goodbye, Sphere. And say goodbye to the centralized NHL draft, at least for now.

The league plans to move from its current setup, in which team executives and scouts meet on the floor at a venue to make their selections, to doing so remotely from its headquarters next year.

While plans are not complete, the expectation is that the league will still hold some sort of draft celebration in one of its markets for television purposes and to draw fans, and featuring its top prospects, similar to how the NFL draft is conducted.

Several team executives shared the pros and cons of making the change during the two-day, seven-round draft held in Las Vegas this weekend.

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“From a club standpoint, it’s great because you can talk freely … and there’s a lot more room to spread out,” Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Don Waddell said in favor of holding the draft remotely. .

“The negative is that there are always many more transactions carried out in person,” he added.

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Waddell’s biggest concern with participating remotely is having fewer prospects present, especially those who are projected to participate in the later rounds.

“We drafted a guy in the sixth round and he’s here with his parents. They’re excited,” Waddell said of the selection of defenseman Luke Ashton, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia. “They are only going to select you once. And that’s probably the most disappointing thing for me, is that the kids will lose that opportunity.”

Toronto general manager Brad Treliving said there’s nothing like having the entire NHL community together under one roof. Treliving, however, voted in favour of working remotely due to scheduling constraints as the start of the free agency period began almost immediately after the draft.

“Everything is stuck,” Treliving said. “I love the draft. I would love to do it every year. It’s just scheduling more than anything else.”

Treliving and his staff, as well as the Washington Capitals, are among the teams that will stay in Las Vegas so as not to waste time traveling home with free agency signing opening Monday.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said there is no expectation the league will change its decision for next year after teams favored the decision to move to a remote draft.

Las Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the Golden Knights were one of the few teams that voted to maintain the status quo.

“I went to 27 NHL drafts in a row before I ever worked an NHL draft,” McCrimmon said. “And I loved going to the draft. I was always fascinated by everything about it.”

The shift to a remote draft represents a split between teams’ hockey departments, which favor the status quo, and the business side that is focused on saving on travel and hotel expenses.

Vancouver Canucks president Jim Rutherford is taking a wait-and-see attitude.

“I don’t have an opinion until we prove otherwise,” Rutherford said. “And once we try it for a year, I think everyone will be able to make a good decision about how to move forward.”

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