Despite having plans to finish up the 2020 playoffs as late as September, the NHL has reportedly sent a memo to teams on Friday suggesting the possibility of having the draft in June.
In this situation, the draft order would be put together based on points percentage when the league was paused. The bottom 15 teams would be put into an altered version of the draft lottery in which there was only one winner drawn and teams could only move up the draft board by a maximum of four spots.
Here's the proposed first round. For playoff conditional picks, interpretation is "currently in a playoff spot" would trigger any conditional swaps. pic.twitter.com/4Nx31oHfAL
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) May 2, 2020
The Leafs don’t have their first-round pick this season because of an off-season deal that unloaded Patrick Marleau’s contact to the Carolina Hurricanes. That pick is top-10 protected, but Toronto would be one of the 16 teams not in the lottery, so the pick wouldn’t move up at all and it would be given to Carolina.
The more interesting situation would be all of the other conditional draft picks that are currently floating around in limbo. Toronto dealt Trevor Moore and a pick to the L.A. Kings for Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford with the condition being that the 2021 third-round pick upgrades to a second-round pick if either Kyle Clifford re-signs with Toronto or if the Leafs make the 2019-20 playoffs and Jack Campbell wins six regular-season games.
Campbell won three regular-season games for the Leafs and you could reasonably assume that he would have won three more to meet the condition had the season not been paused. The NHL has suggested that they’ll act as an arbitrator in these situations. The league will offer a solution for these types of trades and teams could either accept their conditions or get seven days to reform the deals on their own. If no deal is reached between the two teams, the league’s solution would go forward.
This is a great solution if you’re a fan of the Red Wings or Senators. It guarantees Detroit won’t draft lower than second-overall while Ottawa would be guaranteed two picks in the top-four. For everybody else, it’s a bit puzzling. For example, Buffalo would be able to move up from seventh- to third-overall and still participate in the league’s proposed playoff mini-tournament.
Why would the league opt for having a draft when they still want to conclude the season? Well, money, of course. There’s a major lull period right now without sports on television and the league could capitalize while nothing else is going on and grab a bunch of attention by hosting their draft. The NFL’s virtual draft was a huge, successful TV spectacle so the NHL surely sees this as a way to recoup some lost revenue and gain some momentum.