Florida Panthers

NHL postpones 2020 Draft due to coronavirus, leaving open possibility of altered format

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The NHL calendar is moving some key events back because of the coronavirus outbreak in North America. The 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the draft lottery and the NHL Scouting Combine have all been postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the league announced in a press release Wednesday.

These are the first major dates on the league calendar to formally be pushed back. The NHL suspended play indefinitely March 12, although the league hasn’t made a decision as to whether the postseason will be effected. The NHL Draft was originally scheduled for June in Montreal and the league said “the location, timing and format of the 2020 NHL Draft (and Draft Lottery) will be announced when details are finalized,” leaving open the possibility the NHL could hold its Draft as a conference call or in some similar format.

On March 16, the NFL announced it would still hold the 2020 NFL Draft in April, as originally scheduled in Las Vegas, Nevada, only without fans in attendance. In all sports, teams often do not attend drafts in person or send just a small complement of representatives. The NHL, however, has not held a draft remotely in a non-lockout season since the 1970s.

The Florida Panthers went into the break sitting outside the 16-team playoff, meaning they would be one of 14 teams in the lottery to determine draft order. It’s not clear how the NHL would handle the draft order if it was not able to complete the regular season. The lottery was scheduled to take place about a week ahead of the Draft and the Scouting Combine was slated for early June.

The NHL is also postponing its annual end-of-season award ceremony in Vegas and said it “looks forward to returning to Las Vegas in the future” for the awards show. Like the draft events, the NHL Awards were also scheduled for June.

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