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The NHL Entry Draft is an annual meeting in which every franchise of the National Hockey League (NHL) systematically select the rights to available amateur ice hockey players who meet the eligibility requirements to play professional hockey in the NHL. The NHL Entry Draft is held once every year, generally within two to three months after the conclusion of the previous season. During the draft, teams take turns selecting amateur players from junior, collegiate, or European leagues.

The first draft was held in 1963, and has been held every year since. The NHL Entry Draft was known as the "NHL Amateur Draft" up until 1979. The entry draft has only been a public event since 1980, and a televised event since 1984. The first pick of the draft goes to the team that wins the NHL Draft Lottery, held prior to the event. The draft lottery also places the order for picks two through fourteen. The remaining draft picks are ordered at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs.


The first NHL Entry Draft (then known as the "NHL Amateur Draft") was held on June 5, 1963 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker in Montrealmarker, Quebecmarker. Any amateur player that was 17 years of age and older, and was not already sponsored by an NHL club, was eligible to be drafted. In 1969, the rules were changed so that any amateur player under the age of 20 was eligible to be drafted. In 1979, the rules were again changed, as they now allowed players who had previously played professionally to be drafted. This rule change was made to facilitate the absorption of players from the now defunct World Hockey Association. Consequently, the name of the Draft was changed from "NHL Amateur Draft" to "NHL Entry Draft". Beginning in 1980, any player who is between the ages of 18 and 20 is eligible to be drafted. In addition, any non-North American player over the age of 20 can be selected. From 1987 through 1991, 18 and 19-year-old players could only be drafted in the first three rounds unless they met another criterion of experience which required them to have played in major junior, U.S. college and high school, or European hockey.

In 1980, the Entry Draft became a public event, and was held at the Montreal Forummarker. Prior to that year the Entry Draft was conducted in Montreal hotels or League offices, and was closed to the general public. The first draft outside of Montreal was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centremarker in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker in 1985. Live television coverage of the Draft began in 1984 when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covered the event in both English and French for Canadian audiences. SportsChannel America began covering the event in the United States in 1989.

Selection order and Draft lottery

The selection order in the Entry Draft is determined by a combination of lottery, regular season standing, and playoff results. However, teams are permitted to trade draft picks. In all cases, the team considered is the original holder of the draft pick, not a team which may have acquired the pick via a trade or other means.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the 14 NHL teams not qualifying for the playoffs are entered in a weighted lottery to determine the initial draft picks in each round, seeded according to regular season standing. The 30th-place team has a 25% chance of winning the lottery, with odds diminishing to a 0.5% chance for the 17th-place team. A single selection from the lottery pool is made, with the winning team eligible to improve its draft order by up to four places, and no team eligible to drop more than one place. Therefore, only the 26th through 30th place teams are eligible to receive the first draft pick. Consequently, the 30th place team's chance of retaining the first overall pick improves to 48.2%.

The remaining order is determined by the Stanley Cup playoff results. Whichever team wins the Stanley Cup is awarded the 30th and last pick, while the runner-up is given the 29th pick. The teams eliminated in the conference finals are awarded the 28th and 27th picks, with the 28th pick going to the team with the better regular season record. Remaining division winners, then wildcard teams are ranked next, filling in the 26th through 15th picks. In both cases, better records result in later picks. The Draft Lottery also determines the teams that will pick in spots three through fourteen.

List of NHL Entry Drafts

Draft Arena City Date Total drafted #1 pick
1963 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 21 (Montreal Canadiens)
1964 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 24 (Detroit Red Wings)
1965 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 11 (New York Rangers)
1966 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 24 (Boston Bruins)
1967 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 18 (Los Angeles Kings)
1968 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 24 (Montreal Canadiens)
1969 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 84 (Montreal Canadiens)
1970 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 115 (Buffalo Sabres)
1971 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 117 (Montreal Canadiens)
1972 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 152 (New York Islanders)
1973 Mount Royal Hotel Montreal, Quebecmarker 168 (New York Islanders)
1974 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebecmarker 247 (Washington Capitals)
1975 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebecmarker 217 (Philadelphia Flyers)
1976 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebecmarker 135 (Washington Capitals)
1977 NHL Montreal Office Montreal, Quebecmarker 185 (Detroit Red Wings)
1978 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 234 (Minnesota North Stars)
1979 Queen Elizabeth Hotelmarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 126 (Colorado Rockies)
1980 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 210 (Montreal Canadiens)
1981 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 211 (Winnipeg Jets)
1982 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 252 (Boston Bruins)
1983 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 242 (Minnesota North Stars)
1984 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 250 (Pittsburgh Penguins)
1985 Toronto Convention Centremarker Toronto, Ontariomarker 252 (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1986 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 252 (Detroit Red Wings)
1987 Joe Louis Arenamarker Detroit, Michiganmarker 252 (Buffalo Sabres)
1988 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 252 (Minnesota North Stars)
1989 Metropolitan Sports Centermarker Bloomington, Minnesotamarker 252 (Quebec Nordiques)
1990 B.C.marker Placemarker Vancouver, British Columbia 250 (Quebec Nordiques)
1991 Buffalo Memorial Auditoriummarker Buffalo, New Yorkmarker 264 (Quebec Nordiques)
1992 Montreal Forummarker Montreal, Quebecmarker 264 (Tampa Bay Lightning)
1993 Colisee de Quebecmarker Quebec City, Quebecmarker and 286 (Ottawa Senators)
1994 Hartford Civic Centermarker Hartford, Connecticutmarker 286 (Florida Panthers)
1995 Edmonton Coliseummarker Edmonton, Albertamarker 234 (Ottawa Senators)
1996 Kiel Centermarker St. Louis, Missourimarker 241 (Ottawa Senators)
1997 Civic Arenamarker Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker 246 (Boston Bruins)
1998 Marine Midland Arenamarker Buffalo, New Yorkmarker 258 (Tampa Bay Lightning)
1999 FleetCenter Boston, Massachusettsmarker 272 (Atlanta Thrashers)
2000 Canadian Airlines Saddledomemarker Calgary, Albertamarker and 293 (New York Islanders)
2001 National Car Rental Centermarker Sunrise, Floridamarker and 289 (Atlanta Thrashers)
2002 Air Canada Centremarker Toronto, Ontariomarker and 290 (Columbus Blue Jackets)
2003 Gaylord Entertainment Centermarker Nashville, Tennesseemarker and 292 (Pittsburgh Penguins)
2004 RBC Centermarker North Carolinamarker and 291 (Washington Capitals)
2005 Sheraton Hotel and Towers Ottawa, Ontariomarker 230 (Pittsburgh Penguins)
2006 General Motors Placemarker Vancouver, British Columbia 213 (St. Louis Blues)
2007 Nationwide Arenamarker Columbus, Ohiomarker and 211 (Chicago Blackhawks)
2008 Scotiabank Placemarker Ottawa, Ontariomarker and 211 (Tampa Bay Lightning)
2009 Bell Centremarker Montreal, Quebecmarker and 211 (New York Islanders)




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