Wednesday, June 28th, and Thursday, June 29th, were the dates for the 61st NHL Entry Draft. Coming in as a new fan, the draft might seem pretty confusing, so this is a breakdown on what the draft is.
To start off, the draft is when all of the franchises in the NHL get to select the rights to the available amateur players (who meet requirements). Obviously with there being a lot of teams, 32 in total, it has to be made fair to who gets what picks. There are seven rounds total and thirty-one picks each round, totaling 224 picks altogether. For the first round, the picks are determined by a draft lottery. This year's draft lottery was on May 8th. The 16 teams that did not make it to playoffs are in the weighted lottery. The teams that have the least points have more chances at winning the lottery. The top two winners have a chance to move up to ten spots, meaning any of the teams in the bottom eleven do have a shot at winning first overall pick. The twelve teams that don’t win the lottery are then placed in order of their regular season record, the team with the worst ends up with 3rd pick. How the actual lottery to decide works is 14 ping pong balls are put into a lottery machine where there are 1,001 combinations possible. Each of the teams are given a set of randomized four number combinations. The teams with worse records are given more combinations. This year, the Anaheim Ducks had the worst record and got 185, meaning they had an 18.5% chance of getting first lottery draw. The sixteen teams that were in the playoffs, and therefore not in the lottery, get placed based on a mix of their playoff performance as well as their regular season record. The Stanley Cup Champion gets last pick and this year that was the Vegas Golden Knights.
At the actual draft, it just goes in order based on the lottery and season standings. Each team is given up to three minutes to deliberate before making their pick. When the team has made their pick, the group will make their way to the stage and announce the player they have selected. After the player comes up on stage and puts their new team's jersey on, they complete media duties. After the actual draft, most players aren’t immediately signed. Top prospects will generally sign an entry level contract, though most of the time the players will go through development camp and that next year will be in a junior league or for a college. Even if the player does sign an NHL contract, they can still end up in the minors (the AHL).
This year was definitely an interesting draft. There was the fight for the first pick to get Connor Bedard, but also many draft predictions ended up wrong in where the top ten went. Namely Adam Fantilli, as he was projected to go 2nd overall but ended up going 3rd. Fantilli was not the only player to go differently than projected. There were also a couple other players that went higher than originally projected, like Gabe Perreault, who was at the beginning predicted to be picked 41st and ended up going 23rd. Overall, this was a very exciting draft and this year's draft class is definitely one to watch out for.