The Future of the NHL Draft: Potential Changes on the Horizon

Are we on the brink of a major shift in the NHL Draft process? While it’s unlikely that the draft will disappear entirely, there are talks of significant changes on the horizon when the CBA is up for renewal in 2026.

Recently, on the 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman discussed a proposal he had heard from agents and some within the players’ association to shorten the draft to just four rounds. The idea behind this change is to prevent players from being tied to teams for multiple years without receiving a contract, potentially delaying the start of their NHL careers.

For teams like the Colorado Avalanche, who have had limited success with late-round picks in the past, this proposed change could have both positive and negative implications. While the Avalanche have struggled to see many late-round picks make an impact at the NHL level, there have been instances where players found success with other organizations after not receiving contracts from Colorado.

One argument in favor of shortening the draft is that it would give players more freedom to choose their destination and potentially find a better fit for their development. Additionally, well-run organizations could benefit from the ability to sign undrafted players, offering an alternative recruiting process for young talent.

However, a change of this magnitude could also have significant impacts on the trade market. With fewer draft picks available, teams may place higher value on their selections, potentially leading to fewer trades and a shift in how teams manage their rosters.

Concerns have also been raised about potential job losses if the draft is shortened, particularly among scouting staff. While the need for amateur scouts to track undrafted players would remain, there could be a realignment of roles within organizations.

Ultimately, the decision to alter the NHL Draft will have far-reaching consequences for various stakeholders in the hockey world. As discussions continue, it will be crucial for the league to carefully consider the implications of any proposed changes before moving forward.