The NHL Entry Draft is rapidly approaching. This year the draft will be held in Dallas, Texas (home of the Dallas Stars). The first round will be on Friday, June 22nd at 4:30pm PST. Rounds 2-7 will be held on Saturday, June 23rd at 8:00am PST. Let’s take a look at what the draft is, how the order is chosen, and what it means for the Vegas Golden Knights.
What is the NHL Entry Draft?
The NHL Entry Draft is an annual meeting in which every franchise (team) of the NHL takes turns selecting the rights to available players from junior or collegiate leagues, and professional players from European leagues, who meet draft eligibility requirements. The draft is usually held within 2-3 months of the previous season.
North American players 18–20 years old and European/international players 18–21 years old. All other players enter the league as an unrestricted free agent.
The basic order of the NHL Entry Draft is determined by the standings of the teams in the previous season. The order is intended to favor the teams with the weakest performance in order to help them be more competitive in the future. The teams pick in the same order each round, with each team getting one pick per round (there are 7 rounds). The basic order of the picks is determined as follows:
- The teams that did NOT qualify for the playoffs the previous season (picks 1–15)**
- The teams that made the playoffs in the previous season but did not win either their division in the regular season or play in the Conference Finals (picks 16–23 up to 27)
- The teams that won their divisions in the previous season but did not play in the Conference Finals (potentially picks 24–27)
- The teams that lose in Conference Finals (picks 28 and 29)
- The team that was the runner-up in the Stanley Cup Finals (pick 30- Vegas Golden Knights)
- The team that won the Stanley Cup in the previous season (pick 31)
**The order of picks 1–15 may change during the first round of the draft based on the results of the NHL Draft Lottery. The draft lottery is only for the bottom 15 teams that did not make the playoffs in the previous season. The prize for winning the draft lottery is to be upgraded to pick first in round 1 of the draft, bumping all other teams one pick lower. The odds of winning the lottery are weighted on a descending scale that gives the greatest chance of winning to the team with the lowest point total (18.5%), and the worst chance to the team with the highest point total (1.0%). There are 3 lottery winners each year.
In rounds 2-7, the original order based on point totals and determining factors (listed above) is used.
Draft Pick Bartering:
Teams can trade picks with each other. While each team is originally given 7 picks, they may end up with different amounts if they have used their picks as bartering tools. For example, the Vegas Golden Knights had 12 picks last year from a series of exchanges with other teams. This year they traded away their 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 7th round picks, but received additional players and 4 new spots in rounds 4, 5, and 6, maintaining 7 picks total.
What does this mean for the Vegas Golden Knights?
2017 NHL Entry Draft
In 2017, Vegas Golden Knights’ GM, George McPhee, made 12 selections: Cody Glass (signed), Nick Suzuki (signed), Erik Brannstrom (signed), Nicolas Hague, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, Maksim Zhukov, Lucas Elvenes (signed), Jack Dugan, Nick Campoli, Jiri Patera, and Ben Jones.
2018 NHL Entry Draft
The Vegas Golden Knights won’t have a first round pick this year since they offered it to the Detroit Red Wings as part of a trade for Tomas Tatar. However, McPhee will still have 7 picks this year: #61 (Round 2), #99 and #115 (Round 4), #135 and #154 (Round 5), #180 and #185 (Round 6).
The players chosen from the draft are the ones that Vegas sees potential in and could use to build the future of the team with. If George McPhee can get the players he wants from the draft, he eliminates the need to make costly trades for them later.
“There are definitely players in this draft we would like to select. We’ve worked to prepare our list and there will be players in every round which our scouts will want us to select… There are good players at different levels in this draft. There will be players selected later in the draft which become pros and players selected earlier which do not.” – Bob Lowes, head of the VGK amateur scouting department.
With at least 4 of the players drafted in 2017 receiving contracts, we can expect to see at least one future Golden Knight come out of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.