Early draft, central hub decisions ahead for NHL

PHOTO: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on AMNY.com.

The NHL continues to inch closer toward a potential return to action with a critical week awaiting its key decision-makers in the coming days.

A conference call is scheduled for Monday with the league’s board of governors to discuss the prospect of holding the 2020 NHL Draft in early June, either on the fifth or sixth of the month, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The selection process was originally scheduled for June 26 in Montreal before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who is Gary Bettman’s right-hand man, sent out a memo to teams on Friday alerting them of the possibility of the selection process being moved up with TV networks already on board.

While owners and GM’s alike have reportedly bristled at the idea, there is a consensus that the NHL will move forward with the plan regardless.

“My thought is: Why would you do that? Why would you need to do that?” Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said during a Fox Sports Detroit Facebook Live chat. “There’s a lot of things that are affected, obviously.”

With a handful of games remaining in the regular season, the draft order — even the first 15 lottery picks — has not been decided as of yet. There are also a number of conditional picks connected in trades that won’t be deciphered until the end of the season.

The NHL has put forth suggestions that would attempt to remedy those situations while making it as fair as possible.

To address the draft order, teams will be lined up based on their current point percentage with 15 teams in the lottery. Within the lottery, only one winner would be picked and teams would only be able to move up a maximum of four spots.

As for conditional trades, the league would put forth solutions for the teams involved. The trade partners would then be given a one-week deadline to amend the deal on their own terms or take the league’s proposal.

On Tuesday, the NHL’s events team will meet with Bettman and Daly to review bids for potential neutral-site arenas to host games if play does resume, per Friedman.

While no final decisions are expected in the immediate future, the league mulling over multiple arenas to host games suggests that one venue will be used to host one division — meaning there would be four cities in the fold.

It is believed that at least 10 cities have put forth bids to house games if hockey returns including Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Las Vegas.

The cities that are least affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will likely be strongly considered.

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