The Journey: 2020 Entry Draft Options Pros and Cons
The NHL Entry Draft is one of the most anticipated events in hockey season, at least if you are someone like me who thoroughly enjoys the buildup that comes with it. While the fate behind the remaining 2019-20 season remains a mystery, the draft offers reliability as the one event that will run under any circumstances. Rain or shine, night or day, and virus or none. With that being said, the event still comes with its own set of unknowns. The two large question marks being how and when does this event make sense.
It seems likely, at this point, that we will see some sort of virtual event, much like the NFL did in their draft just last week. Which, if you ask me, is just fine. Aside from feeling awful for the prospects who will now have to miss out on a giant moment in their careers, a virtual draft seems like a workable option. As unfortunate as it is for all who are involved, I think we can all agree that we will take what we can get right now. Safety takes precedence and if it can’t be done in a manner that is so, then virtual is what it should be at the end of the day.
Now for the WHEN. There are many factors that will go into finalizing this decision, and I personally do not see an option that is going to make everyone happy.
With that in mind, in this week’s installment of The Journey, I thought I would dive into a few of the options that have been brought to the table. While there are many, I will focus on only a few of the top ideas and evaluate some of the pro vs cons that come with each of them.
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that all of this of course balances on the decision the league makes in regards to the remaining season. So for now, it’s important to keep an open mind and assume that we know nothing.
Option 1 – Keep the draft in June with the season in July
One of the avenues that has been circling through the media is keeping the event to a June date (exact date TBD). In this option, the final fate of the season is still uncertain, however, they could still try and play out the season in July.
Finally something to do
One of the first and major pros to this option would be for all of us stuck at home. It's now been just under two months since we have had any hockey action, and let's be honest with ourselves, we are starving for anything. Keeping a June date would give us enthusiasts something to mark on our calendars, cancel all zoom meetings, and spend a solid few hours watching the first round of one of the more anticipated drafts in some time.
Another pro would be for the prospects need to prepare, especially those overseas. Although it is still unclear when the 2020-21 season will begin, this will allow the players ample time to get their plans in order before eventually meeting with their new respected clubs.
Potential contractual issues
Many scouts and other executive personnel’s contracts will technically be expired if they were to push it back too far into the summer. With that in mind, it would be wise to get it done as soon as possible to accommodate the legality side of things. If not, this could become a logistical nightmare.
No regular season
I think at this point, in order for this scenario to work, the season would have to end and they would jump directly into the playoffs. While this may already be an inevitable outcome, not allowing teams to properly finalize the final rankings comes as a giant con.
Point totals vs point percentages
I think the major issue here is a blatant and obvious one. With over 10 games remaining in most schedules, there is still so much uncertainty in regards to team placement. These 10+ games represent giant playoff implications and of course each team’s fate in draft lottery percentages. We know that the season will not begin before June, and if this scenario happens, likely not at all. So, this begs the million dollar question: Who gets in? Will it be based on point totals or point percentages?
Let’s take the New Jersey Devils, who currently own the Vancouver Canucks’ first-round pick. Should the Canucks make the playoffs, the pick will be made this year. However, should they fall outside the playoff picture, the pick will become a first rounder in next year’s draft.
If the decision is based on point totals, the Canucks are currently sitting outside the playoff bubble. However, should they decide on point percentages, they are squeezing in by a hair and now find themselves in a playoff race. This is just one example of why this decision becomes so important for some teams’ planning.
No roster movement
With the playoffs (at the very least) still a potential go, the season is technically still running. This means there would be no draft-day transactions, resulting in teams losing the ability to move up or down in the draft. This plays a massive role in what teams can and can’t do during the draft and of course, also means a far less interesting event for us at home.
My final thoughts on Option 1
At this point, this option makes the least sense for me. Holding a draft before the end of the season is something I don’t think the league should be considering. There are too many variables to make this option work and finding a way to make this as fair as possible just does not seem possible. In my opinion, unless they decide to shut down the season entirely, playoffs included, a June draft should not happen. Even though we desperately need some action right now.
Option 2 – Hold the draft in August
Assuming the NHL season commenced in July, holding the draft in August is another option that could also work. Of course, this also comes with its own ups and downs.
Closure for all
The season, including playoffs has been dealt with, meaning teams were given a fair shot at sealing their own fates. This option evens out the playing field, leaving no teams pouting about the system being unfair at the end of the day.
Potential for a “normal” event
Being a few months away, this could potentially open up some debate for a (somewhat) normal draft day. While fans will likely still be out of the question, there could be hope that players, management teams, and media could attend the event. Most important being the players, who would still get to walk the stage and throw on their respected crests.
More contractual issues
As mentioned, this could be a logistical nightmare in regards to contracts with scouts and executive teams. This could add yet another headache for the league and management.
Once again, depending on the start date of the 2020-21 season, this could be a very crunched and perhaps unrealistic timeline for all involved. Development camps usually begin almost immediately after the draft, which would mean they would be crunching development camps, training camp and pre-season in a very short time span. If the season were to be pushed back, this would of course alleviate this issue.
My final thoughts on Option 2
For me, this depends on what they decide for the 2020-21 season. If it gets pushed back (which seems very likely at this point), I think this scenario is my favorite and most probable to make happen. The contracts are an issue, but with the work already being done beforehand, meetings could be held and the final word could be left to GMs come draft day.
Although it seems like a stretch right now, allowing the time for a possible and somewhat “normal” draft day makes a lot of sense. If we can safely find a way to get these kids to experience throwing on the jersey and take that famous picture, we have to do it.
This option also just makes the entire process simple. The season has been played out, meaning no fabricated draft scenarios. If the season should in fact go on, this one gets my vote.
Option 3 – Play out regular season and draft before playoffs
In this option, the season will continue in July and playoffs would begin almost immediately after. This leaves one, maybe two days where the league could squeeze in a draft day following the 2019-20 regular season.
Finish the season
Much like Option 2, this will allow teams to properly play out their season and seal their own fates.
A more realistic time frame
Although it is still held in the summer, this allows for a larger period for both prospects and the teams to figure out logistics, such as contracts and development camps.
The best of all worlds
Let’s be honest here, this option hits all matters in question. It allows us, as die hard fans, to get the regular season, entry draft and Stanley Cup all in one short summer. What could be better?
Well, unfortunately there are no perfect options. Each one will cast its own set of issues. This option’s largest one will be timing. Yes, they finished their season on their own. However, this becomes quite the task for teams, especially those making the playoffs. This would have to be done in the few days between the regular season and playoffs, which would be a crazy turnaround for some.
No draft day deals
Again, this brings up the same issue as Option 1, the season has not yet finished. Draft-day deals play an integral part in the entire drafting process. Many GMs likely had deals in mind when they made moves at the trade deadline, assuming things could be done before they make their pick.
My final thoughts on Option 3
I will be honest, this option was originally my favorite of the three. It's got everything you could ask for as a fan. It is a short, action-packed timeline that allows all three major events to be played out. The draft could definitely still work with only a day or two to do so, and the 2020-21 season could still potentially go on as planned in October. However, for me, draft day deals have to happen, or at least GMs have to have the option to do so. There does not seem to be a scenario that makes sense in my head without the ability to make transactions, which ultimately leads to giving this scenario a fail.
My final thoughts
At the end of the day, I care about three things: safety, even playing field and draft-day transactions.
While I love the idea of having a draft in June, I believe the season needs to be cancelled entirely for this to happen. Otherwise, we have to wait. If the season does find a way to continue, I think it seems inevitable that the 2020-21 season will be pushed back, which allows for an August draft. I am all for allowing these kids to enjoy their day that they have worked so hard to be a part of. If we can make it happen, or at least make an attempt, let's do it.
I, of course, have my own opinion on this matter, as I am sure everyone reading this does as well. I would love to hear your perspective as well so please leave a comment, or catch me on Twitter @hall1289.
Until next week, folks.
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