All reports suggest that the Vegas Golden Knights may have to settle for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft to still take place in June, and there are both positives and negatives to consider.
The sports world is still very much in limbo due to COVID-19 and, as a result, the Vegas Golden Knights may have to adjust to a new normal for a while.
Part of that new normal may involve taking part in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft while the fate of the 2019-20 regular season is still in limbo.
Because, while there is a hope that hockey can return in July and be played throughout the summer with a 2019-20 Stanley Cup Champion eventually being crowned, all signs point to the NHL being keen on still staging the Draft next month.
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According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, it is now likely that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will get his wish by holding the 2020 NHL Entry Draft in June, with no vote required from the Board of Governors who are due to hold a conference call today.
There are a bevy of questions that will need answering if the Draft does indeed take place before the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, including the land mine that is conditional picks.
Now, as far as the Golden Knights are concerned, there are both pros and cons to having the Draft in June during the current climate and we decided to go through a few…
Pro 1 – Higher Picks
According to CapFriendly, the Vegas Golden Knights are projected to have the No. 24 overall pick in the First Round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Of course, that could change but, going on the assumption that the Draft will now take place before the NHL figures out how to conclude the 2019-20 regular season, expect the Golden Knights to pick somewhere in that region.
In that case, having the Draft before the season finishes will result in the Knights emerging as one of the big winners.
Well, if the Draft was shoehorned in-between the conclusion of the 2019-20 season and the start of the 2020-21, then it is feasible to predict that the Golden Knights could be picking as low as 31st if they enjoyed a deep postseason run.
So, still having the Draft in June, while far from ideal, would at least give Vegas the chance to make a run at a high-end prospect in the First Round.
After all, and as we’ve started to explore, this year’s Draft is rich in offensive talent and there could also be some defensemen with huge upside lurking late in the First Round too.
As a result, having the 2020 NHL Entry Draft in June before the 2019-20 regular season resumes play will be most beneficial to the Golden Knights in that they will get the opportunity to add an absolute stud to their roster even if they do go on to win the Stanley Cup.
Con 1 – Lack of Knowledge
While the Golden Knights’ army of scouts should have already done their homework, a slew of events crucial to the Draft were cancelled because of COVID-19.
From the CHL Playoffs to the NCAA Tournament and, most importantly, the IIHF Under 18 World Championship, scouts have been robbed of the opportunity to watch a number of prospects in high-pressure environments one final time.
Losing the IIHF Under 18 World Championship in particular was a body-blow given that the tournament gives a plethora of European prospects the chance to attract the attention of NHL General Managers and Front Offices.
As a result, the later rounds of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft will become more of a crapshoot and, ultimately, those scouting teams who have been on top of their game throughout the year will prosper.
Of course, we won’t know which teams would have really done their homework until a few years from now at least, but it does make sense that a lot of franchises will want to take less risks once we get deep into the Draft.
For the Golden Knights, who currently have two Third-Round picks in addition to selections in the Fifth and Sixth Rounds, they will need to rely on their scouting team more than ever to ensure that they make the right pick in the later rounds.
European prospects may be more of a wild card due to the lack of knowledge this year but, if the Golden Knights have put the work in throughout the year, then that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.