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The NHL Entry Draft is an annual meeting in which every franchise of the National Hockey League (NHL) systematically select the rights to available amateur ice hockey players who meet draft eligibility requirements (North American players ages 18–20 years old and Europeans of all ages entering the league for the first time, all others enter league as unrestricted free agents).

The NHL Entry Draft is held once every year (generally within two to three months after the conclusion of the previous season). During the draft, teams take turns selecting amateur players from junior, collegiate, or European leagues.

The first draft was held in 1963, and has been held every year since. The NHL Entry Draft was known as the NHL Amateur Draft until 1979. The entry draft has only been a public event since 1980, and a televised event since 1984.

Up to 1994, the order was solely determined by the standings at the end of the regular season.

In 1995, the NHL Draft Lottery was introduced where only teams who had missed the playoffs could participate.

The one lottery winner would move up the draft order a maximum of four places, meaning only the top five-placed teams could pick first in the draft, and no team in the non-playoff group could move down more than one place. The chances of winning the lottery were weighted towards the teams at the bottom of the regular season standings.

Beginning in 2013, the limit of moving up a maximum of four places in the draft order was eliminated, so the lottery winner would automatically receive the first overall pick and any teams above it in the draft order would still move down one spot.

HistoryEdit

The first NHL Entry Draft (at that time known as the "NHL Amateur Draft") was held on June 5, 1963 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Any amateur player under the age of 20 years old was eligible to be drafted.

In 1979, the rules were changed allowing players who had previously played professionally to be drafted. This rule change was made to facilitate the absorption of players from the defunct World Hockey Association. Consequently, the name of the draft was changed from "NHL Amateur Draft" to "NHL Entry Draft".

Beginning in 1980, any player who is between the ages of 18 and 20 is eligible to be drafted. In addition, any non-North American player over the age of 20 can be selected.

From 1987 through 1991, 18 and 19-year-old players could only be drafted in the first three rounds unless they met another criterion of experience which required them to have played in major junior, U.S. college and high school or European hockey.

In 1980, the Entry Draft became a public event, and was held at the Montreal Forum. Prior to that year the Entry Draft was conducted in Montreal hotels or league offices and was closed to the general public.

The first draft outside of Montreal was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1985. Live television coverage of the draft began in 1984 when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covered the event in both English and French for Canadian audiences.

The 1987 Entry Draft (held at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan) was the first NHL Draft to be held in the United States. SportsChannel America began covering the event in the United States in 1989.

Prior to the development of the Draft, NHL teams sponsored junior teams, and signed prospects in their teens to the junior teams.

Players were signed to one of three forms: the "A" form, which committed a player to a tryout; a "B" form, which gave the team an option to sign a player in return for a bonus; and the "C" form, which committed a player's professional rights. The "C" form could only be signed by the player at age 18 or by the player's parents, often in exchange for some signing bonus.

The first drafts (up until the 1968 Amateur Draft) were held to assign players who had not signed with an NHL organization before the sponsorship of junior teams was discontinued after 1968.

Selection Order & Draft LotteryEdit

The selection order in the NHL Entry Draft is determined by a combination of lottery, regular season standing, and playoff results.

While teams are permitted to trade draft picks both during the draft and prior to it (sometimes several years prior), in all cases, the selection order of the draft picks is based on the original holder of the pick, not a team which may have acquired the pick via a trade or other means. The order of picks discussed in this section always references the original team.

The basic order of the NHL Entry Draft is determined based on the standings of the teams in the previous season.

As with the other major sports leagues, the basic draft order is intended to favour the teams with the weakest performance who presumably need the most improvement in their roster to compete with the other teams.

Subject to the results of the NHL Draft Lottery (discussed below), the teams pick in the same order each round, with each team getting one pick per round.

The basic order of the picks is determined as follows:

  1. The teams that did not qualify for the playoffs the previous season (picks 1–15).
  2. The teams that made the playoffs in the previous season but did not win either their division in the regular season or play in the Conference Finals (picks 16–23 up to 27).
  3. The teams that won their divisions in the previous season but did not play in the Conference Finals (potentially picks 24–27).
  4. The teams that lose in Conference Finals (picks 28 and 29).
  5. The team that was the runner-up in the Stanley Cup Finals (pick 30).
  6. The team that won the Stanley Cup in the previous season (pick 31).

The number of teams in the second and third group depends on whether the Conference finalists also won their division. The teams in each group (other than the Stanley Cup winner and runner up) are ordered within that group based on their point totals in the preceding regular season (with the lowest point total picking first).

Tie-breakers are governed by the same rules used to determine ties in the regular season standings. The order of picks 1–15 may change during the first round of the draft based on the results of the NHL Draft lottery. In the subsequent rounds, the basic order based on point totals is used.

When teams lose their rights to a first-round draft choice because that player was not signed to a contract and consequently re-entered the entry draft or became an unrestricted free agent, they are awarded a compensatory draft pick.

This selection will be the same numerical choice as the first round draft pick who was not signed, but in the second round. For example, if a team cannot sign the seventh overall first round draft choice, it will receive the seventh pick in the second round of the next draft as compensation.

Draft LotteryEdit

At the conclusion of the regular season, the 15 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs are entered in a weighted lottery to determine the initial draft picks in the first round.

The teams are seeded in the basic draft order based on their regular season point totals. The odds of winning the lottery are weighted on a descending scale that gives the greatest chance of winning to the team with the lowest point total (20%), and the worst chance to the team with the highest point total (1%).

The prize for winning the draft lottery is to be upgraded to pick first in the first round of the draft, with each team that preceded the winner in the basic draft order bumped one pick lower.

For example, if the team with the 5th worst point total wins the lottery, it would pick first, and the teams with the worst through 4th-worst records would pick second through fifth. The remaining teams would be unaffected. The teams would return to the basic order for the second and all subsequent rounds.

From its inception until 2015, there was one winner for the lottery, who would win the first pick in the draft.

Beginning with the 2016 draft, three winners are picked in the lottery. These teams win the first three picks in the lottery, with the remaining teams dropping as many as three places from their spot in the basic order.

The NHL Draft Lottery takes place during the Stanley Cup playoffs and is hosted at Sportsnet's studios in Toronto from 2015 onwards. From 2006 to 2014, the draft lottery took place at TSN's studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Eligible PlayersEdit

All players who will be 18 years old on or before September 15th and not older than 20 years old before December 31st of the draft year are eligible for selection for that year's NHL Entry Draft.

In addition, non-North American players over the age of 20 are eligible.

List of NHL Entry DraftsEdit

Draft Location City Date Total drafted #1 pick
1963 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 21 Monahan, GarryGarry Monahan (Montreal Canadiens)
1964 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 24 Gauthier, ClaudeClaude Gauthier (Detroit Red Wings)
1965 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 11 Veilleux, AndreAndre Veilleux (New York Rangers)
1966 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 24 Gibbs, BarryBarry Gibbs (Boston Bruins)
1967 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 18 Pagnutti, RickRick Pagnutti (Los Angeles Kings)
1968 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 24 Plasse, MichelMichel Plasse (Montreal Canadiens)
1969 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 84 Houle, RejeanRejean Houle (Montreal Canadiens)
1970 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 115 Perreault, GilbertGilbert Perreault (Buffalo Sabres)
1971 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 117 Lafleur, GuyGuy Lafleur (Montreal Canadiens)
1972 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 152 Harris, BillyBilly Harris (New York Islanders)
1973 Mount Royal Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 168 Potvin, DenisDenis Potvin (New York Islanders)
1974 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 247 Joly, GregGreg Joly (Washington Capitals)
1975 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 217 Bridgman, MelMel Bridgman (Philadelphia Flyers)
1976 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 135 Green, RickRick Green (Washington Capitals)
1977 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 185 McCourt, DaleDale McCourt (Detroit Red Wings)
1978 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 234 Smith, BobbyBobby Smith (Minnesota North Stars)
1979 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 126 Ramage, RobRob Ramage (Colorado Rockies)
1980 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 210 Wickenheiser, DougDoug Wickenheiser (Montreal Canadiens)
1981 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 211 Hawerchuk, DaleDale Hawerchuk (Winnipeg Jets)
1982 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 252 Kluzak, GordGord Kluzak (Boston Bruins)
1983 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 242 Lawton, BrianBrian Lawton (Minnesota North Stars)
1984 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 250 Lemieux, MarioMario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins)
1985 Toronto Convention Centre Toronto, Ontario Template:Dts 252 Clark, WendelWendel Clark (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1986 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 252 Murphy, JoeJoe Murphy (Detroit Red Wings)
1987 Joe Louis Arena Detroit, Michigan Template:Dts 252 Turgeon, PierrePierre Turgeon (Buffalo Sabres)
1988 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 252 Modano, MikeMike Modano (Minnesota North Stars)
1989 Met Center Bloomington, Minnesota Template:Dts 252 Sundin, MatsMats Sundin (Quebec Nordiques)
1990 BC Place Vancouver, British Columbia Template:Dts 250 Nolan, OwenOwen Nolan (Quebec Nordiques)
1991 Buffalo Memorial Auditorium Buffalo, New York Template:Dts 264 Lindros, EricEric Lindros (Quebec Nordiques)
1992 Montreal Forum Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts 264 Hamrlik, RomanRoman Hamrlik (Tampa Bay Lightning)
1993 Colisée de Québec Quebec City, Quebec Template:Dts and Template:Dts 286 Daigle, AlexandreAlexandre Daigle (Ottawa Senators)
1994 Hartford Civic Center Hartford, Connecticut Template:Dts 286 Jovanovski, EdEd Jovanovski (Florida Panthers)
1995 Edmonton Coliseum Edmonton, Alberta Template:Dts 234 Berard, BryanBryan Berard (Ottawa Senators)
1996 Kiel Center St. Louis, Missouri Template:Dts 241 Phillips, ChrisChris Phillips (Ottawa Senators)
1997 Civic Arena Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Template:Dts 246 Thornton, JoeJoe Thornton (Boston Bruins)
1998 Marine Midland Arena Buffalo, New York Template:Dts 258 Lecavalier, VincentVincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning)
1999 FleetCenter Boston, Massachusetts Template:Dts 272 Stefan, PatrikPatrik Stefan (Atlanta Thrashers)
2000 Canadian Airlines Saddledome Calgary, Alberta Template:Dts and Template:Dts 293 DiPietro, RickRick DiPietro (New York Islanders)
2001 National Car Rental Center Sunrise, Florida Template:Dts and Template:Dts 289 Kovalchuk, IlyaIlya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers)
2002 Air Canada Centre Toronto, Ontario Template:Dts and Template:Dts 290 Nash, RickRick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets)
2003 Gaylord Entertainment Center Nashville, Tennessee Template:Dts and Template:Dts 292 Fleury, Marc-AndreMarc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)
2004 RBC Center Raleigh, North Carolina Template:Dts and Template:Dts 291 Ovechkin, AlexanderAlexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
2005 Westin Hotel Ottawa Ottawa, Ontario Template:Dts 230 Crosby, SidneySidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
2006 General Motors Place Vancouver, British Columbia Template:Dts 213 Johnson, ErikErik Johnson (St. Louis Blues)
2007 Nationwide Arena Columbus, Ohio Template:Dts and Template:Dts 211 Kane, PatrickPatrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
2008 Scotiabank Place Ottawa, Ontario Template:Dts and Template:Dts 211 Stamkos, StevenSteven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)
2009 Bell Centre Montreal, Quebec Template:Dts and Template:Dts 211 Tavares, JohnJohn Tavares (New York Islanders)
2010 Staples Center Los Angeles, California Template:Dts and Template:Dts 210 Hall, TaylorTaylor Hall (Edmonton Oilers)
2011 Xcel Energy Center St. Paul, Minnesota Template:Dts and Template:Dts 211 Nugent-Hopkins, RyanRyan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers)
2012 Consol Energy Center Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Template:Dts and Template:Dts 211 Yakupov, NailNail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers)
2013 Prudential Center Newark, New Jersey Template:Dts and Template:Dts

Revised to Template:Dts

211 Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche)
2014 Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Template:Dts and Template:Dts 210 Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers)
2015 BB&T Center Sunrise, Florida Template:Dts and Template:Dts 211 Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
2016 First Niagara Center Buffalo, New York Template:Dts and Template:Dts 211 Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)
2017 United Center Chicago, Illinois Template:Dts and Template:Dts TBA TBA

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