Maybe the biggest thrill of the NHL draft, and something unique that separates it from some of the other pro sports leagues, is that everybody gets to be in the room where it happens.
While the spectacle of the NFL and NBA draft usually take place at a central location where prospects get to pose on stage, team personnel is scattered about the country, hunkered down in their respective war rooms.
Not the case with the NHL draft as every team is present on the floor beneath the stage. If the Minnesota Wild make a trade with, say, the St. Louis Blues, observers get to see both general managers pick up their phones and agree upon the deal in real time.
That won’t be the case this year as the NHL’s 2020 draft will be hosted virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As for how this affects the Wild heading into the first round on Tuesday night, director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett thinks it could end up being a good thing. He likes the fact the Wild will have their own personal war room at the team offices in St. Paul and don’t have to worry about eavesdroppers.
“Sometimes when we’re at the draft table on the floor, it’s harder to have some discussions as we see things evolve,” Brackett said. “The tables are close and other teams are nearby. You sort of talk in code at times. This could be advantageous.”
The biggest downside for the Wild is not every member of the scouting staff will be in attendance on Tuesday. There were too many logistical obstacles with border closures and travel restrictions, so some members of the scouting staff will communicate via Zoom.
“We’ll have them front and center and available and being able to see the visuals that we might have in the war room,” Brackett said. “They are absolutely going to partake. Just (won’t be) physically present.”
There were still some questions about logistics last week as Brackett admitted, “I’m not even sure how the pick itself will be entered.”
Luckily for him, and the Wild, each team recently had a dress rehearsal with the NHL to iron out those wrinkles, and everything is good to go.
For all the good things that the virtual NHL draft can bring, Bracket mentioned the fact that the prospects won’t get to stand on stage. That’s by far the worst part for him.
“I feel for the players, and the time spent and the energy, and the reward of getting to go on stage and be up there,” Brackett said. “I certainly empathize with that missed opportunity for them.”