How Does The Hockey Draft Work? [Expert Review!]

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The NHL season is upon us, and the players are taking a break from their busy schedules to focus on their fitness and getting into shape for the season. This got us thinking: How does the NHL draft work? Surely it must be an elaborate process, full of strategy and planning, right? Not really – it’s actually a pretty easy and straight forward process.

Let’s take a look at the draft process in detail.

Step 1: Determine The Number Of Rounds You Will Go Through

Like many sports, the NHL draft is a single-elimination tournament, meaning that only the best of the best make it to the top. The NHL assigns each of their 30 teams a number of draft picks in each round based on the team’s regular season record. The New York Islanders, for example, will get six picks in the first round, and the Chicago Blackhawks will get five in the second round. This value is based on the previous season’s standings and is supposed to distribute the total number of selections fairly among the teams. Some other examples:

  • The Nashville Predators will get three picks in the first round
  • The Buffalo Sabres will get two in the second round
  • The Winnipeg Jets will get one in the first round and two in the second
  • The Edmonton Oilers will get none in the first round but will pick first overall in the second
  • The Montreal Canadiens will get three in the first round and none in the second
  • The Colorado Avalanche will get one in each round
  • The Anaheim Ducks will get two in the first round and one in the second
  • The San Jose Sharks will get two in the first round and none in the second
  • The New York Rangers will get none in the first round but will pick first overall in the second
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning will get two in the first round and none in the second
  • The Philadelphia Flyers will get one in the first round and two in the second
  • The Boston Bruins will get none in the first round but will pick first overall in the second
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs will get one in each round
  • The Vancouver Canucks will get two in the first round and none in the second
  • The Detroit Red Wings will get one in each round
  • The ST. Louis Blues will get two in the first round and none in the second
  • The Chicago Cubs will get two in the first round and one in the second
  • The Cleveland Indians will get one in each round
  • The Dallas Cowboys will get one in the first round and two in the second
  • The Kansas City Chiefs will get one in each round
  • The Houston Texans will get one in each round
  • The Washington Redskins will get two in the first round and none in the second

As you can see, the draft order is quite varied, but once the dust settles on the regular season, the top teams end up with the best picks, and the worst teams have none. The middle teams are all the rest. This is important to keep in mind as you navigate the draft process and try to plan your moves effectively. The rounds are grouped according to the draft value chart, which determines the order of selection. Once the draft value chart has been updated following the conclusion of the regular season, the order will be rearranged, but teams will still be assigned their draft pick values based on their record from the previous year.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself With The Roster Moves

The next step in the NHL draft process is to go through the list of players who were recently released by their teams (generally prior to the start of the season) and identify those who are now free agents. For the sake of this article, we’ll assume that you’re aware of all the shakeups in the NHL. We’ll discuss the effects of these releases later on when we get to Step 3.

Using a standard format, the NHL lists the teams’ previous season’s results and then provides a short bio on each player. The bio includes the player’s name, birth date, height, weight, family, etc. This info is then followed by a list of the players’ hockey numbers and positions. Finally, there is a short paragraph describing the player’s personality and how he will fit in with the team’s culture.

As we mentioned above, the draft order is based on the team’s record from the previous season. So, it’s important to go over the previous year’s standings in some detail before beginning the draft process. This will allow you to effectively plan your moves and acquire the best possible draft picks available. As you can see, the Denver Nuggets finished the 2018-19 season with a 42-40 record, good for third place in the west. This was their first year in the league and they qualified for the playoffs with a 10-8 record in the first round. As the top seed, they faced the 10th-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals. The Nuggets were unable to advance to the finals, losing 4-2 in Game 7.

Step 3: Select The Best Of The Best In Each Round (Based On Your Philosophy)

This is the step that sports fans have been waiting for, right? After you’ve familiarized yourself with the roster moves in the previous step, it’s time to select which players you will take with your draft picks. Remember, only the best of the best make it to the top, so you have your work cut out for you. In most cases, the NHL draft is a process of trading picks back and forth until one team decides to make a move. Sometimes, especially in the later rounds, it’s better to take a flier on a player who might be available later on. Don’t be afraid to make a small trade to bolster your draft position in the intermediate rounds.

The key to successfully navigating the draft process is to determine your approach in each round. Do you need help acquiring a scoring forwards to take the pressure off your star goaltender? Or do you feel that a defensemen with some offensive flair will be more effective in the long run? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to construct a draft list that is in line with your philosophy.

Step 4: Assess The Available Players (From A To Z)

After you’ve filled your roster with as many players as you can fit, it’s time to do some research. Going back to Step 1, you’ll see that the teams are required to complete a form, listing the players’ names, positions, birth dates, and a notation regarding their contract status. This data is then used to create a master list of all the available skaters and goalies. After you’ve finished formulating your draft list, you can take a look at this big master list and try to find the best players that meet your criteria. Remember, the draft isn’t a perfect science, and there are bound to be some hiccups along the way. Some players are going to be much harder to obtain than others, but you’ll do your best.

Once you’ve compiled a list of available players, you can begin assessing their worth. The first and most important step is to create a comparison table, listing all the players in order of preference. Remember, this is an A to Z list, so players with identical statistics should be listed in order of preference, with the best player at the top and the worst player at the bottom. After you’ve created this comparison table, it’s time to revalue the players, adjusting their stats to fit the comparison table.

Step 5: Finalize Your Draft List, Create Some Binders, And Get Ready To Draft!

Once you’ve revised the players’ statistics in accordance with your formula, it’s time to put your plan into action. Going back to Step 1, you’ll see that teams are only permitted to make selections in the order that their selection value places them. For the sake of this article, let’s say that you’ve compiled a list of 10 players, in order of preference.

Your first selection is Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard. After selecting him, it’s time to do some research. Going back to Step 4, you’ll see that you’ve got a list of 10 available players, sorted by statistical superiority. Selecting Samuel Girard in Step 5 allowed you to follow your list, ascending in the order that you had previously established. Below is a comparison table of the 10 players, displaying their stats and a brief bio:

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