Drafting is not a perfect science. Scouts are not only trying to rank talent at the same age, but with prospects playing in different leagues and at different stages of their development. And that’s only the easy part of their job. They then must try to determine when those young players will reach their peak in their development. It’s an almost impossible task. They’re 18 years old when drafted by NHL teams. While some will do so sooner and others later, most will usually reach their peak at around 25-26 years old. So how can we reduce the risk ever so slightly? Perhaps bumping the draft age from 18 to 19, by giving these young men one more year to develop, would give scouts a fighting chance?
As Montreal Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin eluded to yesterday in his press conference, if two out of seven players drafted each year by your team makes the NHL, it’s a good draft. Asked about this year’s Draft, Bergevin stated that he would like the date to be bumped further down the line. Due to this pandemic, many teams have had little to no opportunities to play games. Scouts simply cannot do their job. They know relatively little about the Draft eligible players this year.
Bumping the draft age
In the past, the NHL has toyed around bumping the draft age to 19 but never went through with it. Aside from getting the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) on board, the biggest hurdle was to skip a year of drafting, which could ultimately hurt NHL teams. There’s also the issue of determining the Draft order by skipping a year.
There are many reasons why this would be the ideal time to make the change.
- The NHL is playing a 56-games season due to the delays encountered forcing the league to end its activities later than usual.
- There’s a huge lack of opportunity for scouting from NHL teams
- The Seattle Kraken’s expansion Draft is coming up this summer
- The winter Olympics are coming up.
Okay, come to think of it, what do you do with Seattle if they cannot draft this year? If they can find a solution to this, this year could very well be the perfect storm to skip a year and make those kids available next year instead. They could then easily implement new rules, making most players draft eligible at 19.
I’d prefer to push the Draft back. We don’t really know the players. The OHL should get going in April. Out West, it all depends on the provinces. It’s harder and harder. In an ideal world, the Draft would be delayed. That’s up to the NHLPA and the NHL, though. ~ Marc Bergevin
But what about the Crosby’s, McDavid’s and other exceptional players who could have an immediate impact in the NHL? The league could put in place a rule where the top-3 or top-5 picks can be 18 but the rest all must be 19 years old. They could also come up with a formula between the teams’ ranking this year and next season to determine the order of the Draft.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The way is there. Determining if there’s a will is a totally different question. This league has never been know for being the most logical so something making sense is far from being a factor in the decision making. It doesn’t mean that it should not be done however.