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All you need to know about the NHL Draft

The 2023 NHL Entry Draft will take place at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on June 28th-29th with first-round selections taking place on Wednesday and rounds 2-7 on Thursday.

The 2023 event is the 61st NHL Draft, and the second time it has taken place in Nashville. The first time was 20 years ago, in 2003.

What2023 NHL Draft
WhereBridgestone Arena, Nashville
WhenJune 28th-29th, 2023
How to watchESPN, ESPN+, NHL Network

Hosts have the first pick

After finishing with 59 points, the Chicago Blackhawks failed to make the postseason for the third year in a row and the fifth time in six seasons.

Spirits in the Windy City rose in May, however, when Chicago won the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery.

The Anaheim Ducks will pick second and the Columbus Blue Jackets third.

At 11.5 percent, Chicago had the third-best chance of winning the lottery after finishing at the bottom of the Central Division with a 26-49-7 record.

Despite the recent trips to the NHL basement, the Blackhawks still have three Stanley Cups since 2010, the most in the NHL in that time frame.

The leader of those three cup runs was Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks’ only other first overall draft pick in franchise history.

Kane, chosen first in 2007, had 441 goals and 772 assists for Chicago before being traded to the New York Rangers during the 2022/2023 season.

He is second in assists and points (1,213) in club history behind Hall of Famer Stan Mikita, while he is third in goals behind Hall of Famer Bobby Hull and Mikita.

How the order is determined

The first 16 selections in the draft were determined by the lottery. Next, the 12 teams that lost in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will have picks 17-28.

Teams that did not win their division are placed in the inverse order of regular season standings points, followed by the three division winners who lost in the inverse order of regular-season points.

Several teams, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins have traded their first-round picks away.

Stars enter NHL through draft

Although the "Great One", Wayne Gretzky, was never drafted due to wonky league circumstances in the late 1970s, the number one pick in the NHL Entry Draft regularly ends up as a franchise cornerstone.

A total of 11 first overall picks went on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy, the NHL's rookie of the year award, while eight of the 60 first overall picks are now enshrined in NHL's Hall of Fame in Toronto.

That list includes all-timers Guy LaFleur from the Montreal Canadiens, Denis Potvin from the New York Islanders and Mario Lemieux from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

More recently, in addition to Kane, the Washington Capitals selected Alex Ovechkin, the Penguins took Sidney Crosby, the Lightning took Steven Stamkos, the Colorado Avalanche took Nathan MacKinnon and the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid.

All became franchise foundations and all, except McDavid, have won at least one Stanley Cup.

Players eligible

Players born between January 1st, 2003 and September 15th, 2005 are eligible for selection in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Additionally, un-drafted, non-North American players born in 2002 are eligible for the draft; and those players who were drafted in 2021, but not signed by an NHL team and who were born after June 30th, 2003, are also eligible to re-enter.

NHL Central Scouting top picks

Regina Pats (WHL) center Connor Bedard is expected to go first overall to the Blackhawks after scoring 71 goals and totalling 143 points this past season.

Considered a generational talent on par with the likes of McDavid, Bedard would become the first WHL player to go first overall since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went first to Edmonton in 2011.

Center Adam Fantilli won the Hobey Baker Award as the top NCAA player as a freshman last year at Michigan. He led the NCAA with 65 points and tied for the NCAA lead with 30 goals in 36 games as the Wolverines advanced to the national semi-finals before losing to eventual NCAA champion Quinnipiac.

Center Leo Carlsson from Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League, is considered the top international skater. The most intriguing top prospect is Metvai Michkov, a winger with Sochi of the Kontinental Hockey League. The Russian has stormed back up draft ladders with his play in the KHL this season.

Other top North American skaters include center William Smith of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team and University of Connecticut winger Matthew Wood.

Smith, who is committed to Boston College, is second in the NTDP with 104 points while Wood led the Huskies with 34 points. Ryan Leonard, another BC commit who is third in the NDTP with 76 points, rounds out the list.

Trading for picks

Teams can and often trade for picks in the draft to get more selections and move up and down in the order of picks. By the time the 2022/2023 NHL trade deadline arrived on March 3rd, a total of 33 draft picks changed hands.

Now, host Nashville leads with 13 total draft picks, including two in the first round. The Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks follow with 12 total picks and two in the first round each.

Chicago, Montreal and the Detroit Red Wings all follow, with each club again having two first-round draft picks. The St. Louis Blues traded Vladamir Tarasenko, Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari ahead of the trade deadline, and now have a total of three first-round picks as a result.

In addition to the first pick, the Blackhawks also have Tampa Bay's pick at No. 19 from the March 2022 trade involving Brandon Hagel.

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