LOS ANGELES — The NHL announced the postponement of its draft, scouting combine and annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, the latest major events to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
No new date for any of the events was announced, adding another layer of uncertainty to an offseason that could be crucial to both the Kings’ and Ducks’ rebuilds.
When the NHL suspended play earlier this month, both teams were in the bottom five of the league’s standings. If the regular season isn’t completed, they will both be set for high lottery picks in the draft.
When that will take place, and how the teams will evaluate potential prospects, however, remains to be seen. The combine was scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y. The draft was originally slated for June 26-27 in Montreal.
The NHL isn’t the first U.S. sports league that has had to alter its draft plans. The NFL canceled its in-person event in Las Vegas, originally scheduled for April, and will instead stage the draft in a TV studio. Major League Baseball is reportedly considering skipping its 2020 draft, originally scheduled for June 10-12, in order to save money in what will likely be a shortened season.
The NHL has never canceled a draft since it was first held in 1963. The last time it wasn’t held during its normal late June time slot was in 2005, when the NHL’s seasonlong lockout pushed it back to July.