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Sweeney Says GM’s Won’t Get a Say on June NHL Draft Proposal




Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney isn’t exactly happy about the potential of the 2020 NHL Draft being held in June because so many picks, trades, and free-agent signings could still be affected by how the 2019-20 NHL season unravels. Sweeney is adamant the season should be played out before the NHL draft occurs.

Sweeney confirmed that he and the 30 other NHL GM’s won’t get a say on whether or not the NHL still goes through with the draft in what’s expected to be the first week of June. 

“We won’t get a vote in which direction that goes but I think its incumbent upon the league to make the best decisions for everybody involved and we’ll be prepared for it,” Sweeney said in a Zoom call with the media Saturday. “Albeit, it’s still to be determined. I think they’re going to discuss it with the Board of Governors in what direction they want to go. I have my own preferences. … but that being said, I think the league has to make their decision about what’s best for the overall decision making than any teams that have a personal preference and I have to respect that.”

On Friday night, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly sent a memo to NHL teams regarding why the league should still hold the NHL draft in June regardless of if they can salvage the 2019-20 NHL season and the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Daly stressed the importance of – just like the NFL draft did with a virtual broadcast April 23-25, the NHL could provide a welcome respite from the monotony of the NHL pause and the Coronavirus pandemic. To accommodate the unprecedented manner of the NHL draft, Daly and the league proposed these amendments:

-For conditional trades, the league would propose solutions. The teams would have seven days to either reform the deal on terms acceptable to both or accept the NHL’s idea.

-Using each team’s points percentage to determine the Order of Selection. (That’s under the current playoff format, so 16 teams would be out of the lottery and 15 would be in.)

-Changing the lottery format this season only — picking just one winner, and limiting any move-up to a maximum of four spots.

Other NHL GM’s, like Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings, have been much blunter in their disapproval of the NHL’s proposal that appears to be the plan regardless of what each team’s management brass thinks. 

“My thought is: Why would you do that? Why would you need to do that?” Yzerman said in a Facebook Live broadcast for Fox Sports Detroit. “There’s a lot of things that are affected, obviously. The draft position hasn’t been established; we don’t know who’s in the playoffs, who’s out of the playoffs, in some cases … But at this time, my own opinion is, I haven’t heard a good reason why we should do it prior to the end of the season if we do conclude the season over the course of the summer.”

All signs seem to point to the league getting what it wants though and if that’s the case, Sweeney believes he and his staff will be ready. 

“We’ve done a lot of Microsoft teams work with our amateur staff and a lot of conference calls in that regard, so we’re well-prepared when the league makes that decision about the June draft,” Sweeney said. “We’ll be prepared for it and our guys have done a really nice job of video and doing all the legwork that normally goes into the combine and I’m appreciative of all the communication that we’ve maintained throughout this.”

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