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McKenzie: 2021 NHL Draft won’t be moved, possible lottery changes

Liam McHugh and Bob McKenzie share the latest updates in the hockey world, including the proposed changes to the NHL Draft Lottery and the Rangers' Artemi Panarin returning to the ice.

During an appearance on NBCSN on Wednesday, NHL insider Bob McKenzie discussed what won’t change about the 2021 NHL Draft, and how the draft lottery could change starting in 2021-22.

(McKenzie also touched on other topics, including the NHL’s partial TV/streaming deal with ESPN.)

2021 NHL Draft dates won’t change

As McKenzie notes, plenty of NHL teams/GMs wanted to change the date for the 2021 NHL Draft. With COVID-19 creating major disruptions to leagues around the world, scouting’s never been more difficult.

One idea was to simply run the 2021 NHL Draft and then the 2022 NHL Draft one after the other, more or less when the 2022 NHL Draft would’ve normally happened on its own.

Instead, McKenzie notes that the 2021 NHL Draft is scheduled to go as planned. Round 1 is scheduled for July 23, while Rounds 2-7 are planned for July 24.

That said, not every detail of the 2021 NHL Draft is settled. McKenzie notes that it’s not yet certain if that draft will take place virtually, or in-person in some form.

Potential changes to NHL Draft Lottery, starting with 2022 NHL Draft

Speaking of the 2022 NHL Draft, McKenzie also filled in details about proposed NHL Draft Lottery changes. As also reported by the likes of Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery could institute the following changes:

  • Teams would be limited to two NHL Draft Lottery wins or fewer over a five-year period. (That’s all going forward. A team’s previous NHL Draft Lottery wins would not factor into that two-in-five equation.)
  • Teams could jump no higher than 10 spots. McKenzie notes that this might as well be called the New York Rangers rule.
  • Currently, NHL Draft Lottery drawings determine picks one, two, and three. If changes go through, there would just be a lottery for picks one and two.

As you can see, the goal is to avoid certain outcomes, like runs of luck for the Rangers or Oilers.

But it’s plausible that these NHL Draft Lottery changes won’t keep people from being disappointed.

  • If it’s a weak draft, will fans be aggravated that their rebuilding team might get penalized? Would be a real bummer for whoever lands on a year that’s the next answer to that rough Nail Yakupov draft.
  • Conversely, if there’s less room for dramatic movement down the draft, would that stop teams from “tanking” during years with a strong, say, top three or five?

Ultimately, it’s tough to imagine a perfect situation. Do you think the league’s getting closer to ideal with these proposed NHL Draft Lottery changes?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.