Colorado Avalanche: What a Virtual NHL Draft Might Look Like

The Colorado Avalanche have six selections in the 2020 NHL draft. They may have to make them virtually because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Colorado Avalanche don’t have very good draft rankings this year. If you use the current standings, they’re #3 in the entire NHL, so they’d have the #29 draft pick. If you rollback to 68, they’re #2 in the NHL, so #30.

Nonetheless, they do have some draft picks so they can replenish their depth:

1st round
3rd round (Toronto’s — Nazem Kadri trade)
4th round
5th round
6th round (Florida’s — Derrick Brassard trade)
7th round

Colorado doesn’t have a second round pick this year because they gave it up for Andre Burakovsky.

In this year of the hockey pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic, mass gatherings aren’t allowed. Most health experts believe they won’t be allowed until there’s a vaccine for the virus — and that’s not going to be this summer.

Meanwhile, the NHL has already postponed the 2020 NHL draft indefinitely. It has to happen before the 2020-21 season, though. So it might well happen virtually.

This idea isn’t unheard of — sort of. The NFL is set to host its own fully virtual draft on April 23-25. The executives, coaches, and scouts will have to be in contact virtually with the executives making their selection virtually, too.

This event is going to be televised. They will probably have a virtual panel of commentators — à la all the Zoom calls we’ve seen taking place. They’ll cut in to the executives making their announcements and then maybe reactions from the drafted players, at least in the first couple rounds.

That’s what a virtual NHL draft would look like, too, with the drafted players eventually getting their picture taken in their new jersey when they could finally join the team.

There are a couple special circumstances that could add a little filip to the NHL draft. For one, there has been no Combine. It’s not just a tradition — teams want to have all the available data before they make their selections.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expresses his concerns thus:

“The more information you can have or obtain before you make draft-day decisions, the better. If we can do some form of combine and create some opportunity for clubs to do due diligence on players in advance of the draft, we’ll certainly try to accommodate that. If we can’t, we can’t. I think our clubs understand that.”

Insisting on a Combine seems like it would delay the draft because you have to wait until players can travel and be in these facilities. I guess you could run it in a smaller facility, with players in individual rooms with the Combine staff. It would take two or three weeks instead of one. Like I said, that delays the actual draft.

The other filip is trades. Teams often make trades on the draft floor — that’s how we got Nikita Zadorov a few years back, the Ryan O’Reilly trade. They’d have to be on the phone to each other talking trade while watching what’s going on like they’re Toronto GM Kyle Dubas working two phones.

You’d have to have a special interruption function for Gary Bettman to butt in and announce a trade. Also, please hockey gods, let someone hack in and turn him into a talking potato.

Zoom filters aside, this idea isn’t that far-fetched for the NHL. Daly points out that the drafts used to be held via phone. The first NHL draft was in 1963. It wasn’t a public event until 1980, and it wasn’t televised until 1983.

I like the idea of watching Joe Sakic and his Colorado Avalanche entourage on video chat as they make their six selections. How would you feel about a virtual NHL draft?