Majority of NHL teams support decentralization of draft, league memo says: Sources

The NHL has announced that the majority of teams support the decentralization of the draft, according to a memo released to its clubs on Wednesday. The league is considering making changes to the traditional in-arena, convention-style format for the June 2024 draft, but there are still logistical issues to be resolved.

The push for change came after a Board of Governors meeting earlier this month, prompting the league to ask each club to vote on shifting to a draft format similar to the NFL and NBA, where team personnel stay in their home markets while prospects gather in one location. A strong majority of teams responded “yes” by the deadline.

The NHL Draft has historically been hosted at a single location since 1963, except for the virtual versions in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Under the proposed decentralized model, the league would use a smaller venue with a capacity of 5,000 to 10,000 seats. Each club will have one or two representatives present, and prospects will have a brief photo opportunity with Commissioner Gary Bettman and a team representative on the draft stage after being selected. After finishing their broadcast and media responsibilities, prospects and their families may be flown to the club’s home city.

Although any changes are unlikely to be implemented before 2025, the league has left open the possibility of implementing them by next spring. The NHL is still finalizing the location for the upcoming draft, which is tentatively scheduled for June 28-29, 2024. Las Vegas has been considered the front-runner, but there have been challenges in securing a venue.

One of the issues the NHL faces with the draft is finding enough clubs willing to serve as hosts, which limits scheduling options. While the draft attracts visitors to the host city and boosts the local tourism economy, it does not bring significant financial benefits to the host team. Moving to a decentralized draft would result in reduced travel and lodging costs for clubs. It would also create more opportunities for draft day fan events and local revenue, as well as provide a wider range of venue and city options for the league to plan and conduct the draft proceedings.

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)


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