What do draft picks mean in the NHL?

The NHL Draft (or NHL National Entry Draft) is an annual event in which National Hockey League (NHL) clubs select the rights to players who meet age criteria and have not yet signed with a professional team.

Here are some key aspects of the NHL Draft:

  1. Age Limits: Players must be between the ages of 18 and 20 (or 21 if the player has not played North American hockey) as of 15 September of the draft year.
  2. Rounds: The draft consists of seven rounds. Each team generally has one pick in each round.
  3. Order of Selection: The order of picks in the first round is determined primarily by the previous season’s results. Teams that did not make the playoffs participate in the draft lottery, which may change the order of the first picks. After the first round, the order of picks is determined by the teams’ results in the previous season (with the worst results going first).
  4. Rights: When a team selects a player in the draft, it receives exclusive rights to sign that player to a contract for a certain period of time. If the player is not signed, he may be available for selection in subsequent drafts (depending on his age and circumstances).
  5. Trade: Draft pick rights can be traded, and often are. Teams can trade draft picks as part of larger trades.

The draft plays a key role in a team’s strategy because it provides an opportunity to select young talent and build a team for the future. It is also a chance for young players to start their professional careers in the NHL.