While the sport of hockey is wildly entertaining the same cannot be said for the drafting process. The NHL draft will never be as exciting as the NFL draft for one simple reason. Player availability. What does that mean you ask? Well let me explain.
Most players taken in the first round of the NHL draft don’t play in the NHL immediately. There are exceptions but the vast majority of players drafted in the NHL entry draft still have multiple years before they are NHL ready. Including the first round picks. Look at the top rookies competing for the Calder trophy this year in Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes. The pair were drafted in 2017 and 2018 respectively and didn’t see a full year of action until the 2019-2020 season. Technically neither played a full season but that isn’t their fault. Makar and Hughes were both high picks in the first round as well. With Makar being selected 4th in 2017 and Hughes selected 7th in 2018. Despite their high selection neither saw NHL playing time the year they were drafted. Not all that exciting to draft someone at 4th or 7th overall and not seeing them play for a year or more is it?
Okay so some players drafted early don’t play right away. Big deal. Doesn’t mean the draft can’t be fun, right? The thing that makes the NFL draft so much fun though? Watching players immediately contribute to your favorite team next year. You watch the NFL draft because the player your favorite team selects first round could play and help win games immediately. Like Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Ezekiel Elliot and others. But, when your favorite team selects a player in the NHL draft you just hope the pick pans out in the next 2-3 years. Maybe in a year or two the guy will be in the running for the Calder or just contributing but some of the players drafted in the 2020 NHL draft won’t see NHL ice time for a couple of years. If ever.
Same thing can happen in the NFL. A first round pick is actually horrible and their career peters out and the team wasted a pick. The big difference is that fans see the pick play horribly right away. The fans scream and cry about how their team screwed up the draft and it’s gonna be another bad year. Somehow the fans of the NFL are always talking the draft. That’s what makes it entertaining.
Well this year the NHL created a draft system that finally has people talking. The draft hasn’t even happened yet and people are already calling it a disaster. Which is awesome. The reason it’s a disaster is the first overall pick is going to a team that is playing in the playoffs when the season resumes. Friday June 26th the NHL held the draft lottery to award the first three picks of the draft. It wasn’t well publicized and most people would have guessed the Red Wings would get the first pick. Cause they stunk. Boy would you have been wrong. Instead a placeholder team was awarded the first pick. Stupid as hell, hilarious, and decent marketing if you ask me.