Montreal Canadiens Could Host 2021 NHL Draft and Expansion Draft

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: A general view of the draft floor prior to the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: A general view of the draft floor prior to the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens were supposed to host the 2020 NHL Draft. With everything in the hockey world up in the air, we could see the Habs host the draft next year instead and hold the expansion draft at the same time.

The Montreal Canadiens were slated to host the 2020 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on Friday June 26 and Saturday June 27. The annual event has become one of the biggest weekends on the NHL calendar, with many trades going down and teams that bottomed out in the standings having a chance to add elite talent.

With the Canadiens falling to the bottom ten in the standings this year, they were going to have a high pick. Drafting a great, young player in the top ten of the draft at the Bell Centre in front of a sold-out crowd of Habs fans would have been a nice way to kickoff the offseason after a bad season on the ice.

However, with the global pandemic going on and everything in the hockey world on pause right now, the draft is not going to be held as usual. Hopefully, the NHL will be able to return to action at some point and finish the 2019-20 calendar somehow. If they can pull that off, it will at least mean the season is pushed back and finishes later than it normally would.

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That means there is no chance the NHL Draft is going to be held that last weekend in June at the Bell Centre. It just won’t be possible to get everything done in time. The NHL has already been off for more than two weeks, pushing everything back two weeks would mean the Stanley Cup Playoffs are still going on at the end of June.

There are a few possibilities for the league to consider instead of the normal NHL Draft this offseason. Best case scenario, would be they host the draft at the Bell Centre but at a later date than originally scheduled. This would require COVID-19 to slow to a crawl in the coming weeks and the chances of that happening are very, very slim.

The next best case could be a scaled down event at a smaller location. This would take some of the excitement out of the event as there wouldn’t be 23,000 people inside the building cheering for all of the Habs 14 selections, but it would ensure some of the top players available get to do a meet and greet immediately after being selected.

The most likely scenario at this point is a draft that is done online. Teams would each meet in their own cities in small groups and basically have to announce their picks to the league commissioner on Skype. This would surely take a lot of the excitement away for the TV audience but is probably the safest way to go about the draft this year.

What it does mean, is the Montreal Canadiens will not be hosting the 2020 NHL Draft as they originally expected.

According to Pierre Lebrun of TSN, the Habs have been assured they will get another draft in the near future. Right now, there has not been a host city announced for any future drafts, so that could mean it returns to Montreal as soon as 2021.

The interesting wrinkle in hosting the 2021 NHL Draft, is it could come with the Seattle expansion draft. The expansion draft would likely be done a few days beforehand, but tying the two together in the same city could bring some fireworks with all 32 NHL GMs hanging out in close proximity for a few days.

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Watching the Habs add a top ten pick would have a nice way to end this disappointing season on a high note. We won’t get to see that in the conventional method at the Bell Centre this year. Hopefully, we get to see them making a much later pick in front of their home fans in 2021 instead.