The 2020 NHL Entry Draft is guaranteed to be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped away many ‘normal’ traditions from the sports world, but the NHL is finding a way to bring some sort of normalcy to our lives — even if it means enjoying playoff hockey in the heat of summer, and streaming this year’s draft more than three months later than expected.
That being said, Saskatoon Blades fans have plenty of reason to tune into this year’s rendition of the NHL’s annual picking saga, so we’ve put together a fact sheet, bringing you everything you need to know leading up to the first overall selection.
When does the draft take place?
The draft is scheduled for October 6–7, 2020, and will be held virtually via video conference call from the NHL Network Studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. It was originally scheduled for June 26–27, 2020 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, but was postponed on March 25, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first round begins at 5:00pm CST on Tuesday, with rounds 2-7 beginning at 9:30am on Wednesday.
Who holds the first selection in this year’s draft?
The New York Rangers will select first overall after winning this year’s NHL Draft Lottery. The Los Angeles Kings will follow the Rangers with the 2nd overall pick, with the first Canadian team, the Ottawa Senators taking the podium at 3rd overall.
For a complete look at the first-round draft order, click here.
Which members of the Blades have the best chance at being picked?
The Blades have a plethora of draft-eligible players, with eligibility guidelines restricted to players 18-years-old on or before September 15 and not older than 20 years old before December 31 of the draft year.
However, five notable Blades have turned the heads of NHL brass, listed in NHL Central Scouting’s final standings among North American players.
#11 Tristen Robins – 86th
Tristen Robins exploded offensively in the second half of the campaign, and his ranking improved monumentally as a result. Robins led the Blades in scoring with 33 goals and 40 assists for 73 points in 62 games. Robins won four individual player awards, including MVP, and is the highest-ranked Blades forward in the NHL’s Central Scouting report.
#41 Rhett Rhinehart – 151st
Acquired by the Blades in a deadline deal with the Prince George Cougars, Rhinehart finished the regular season with three goals and 18 points over 57 games. That earned the 6’3″, 203lbs defender a final ranking of 151st. Rhinehart finished 4th in defensive scoring on the Blades, and became a key physical component to the back-end, collecting 44 penalty minutes.
#5 Aidan De La Gorgendiere – 197th
Aidan De La Gorgendiere comes in at 197th after piling up 28 points (4G, 24A) in 63 games. This includes his first four-point game on February 22nd, all of which assists, in an 8-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. Drafted 5th overall by the Blades in 2017, De La Gorgendiere has turned into a reliable, two-way defender, and could be nabbed by a team in the later rounds of the draft.
#16 Kyle Crnkovic – 208th
Surely considered a dark-horse in the upcoming draft, Crnkovic is coming off a red-hot campaign in Blue and Gold. In 63 games, the speedy winger sniped 21 goals and 43 assists, finishing second in team scoring behind Robins. The Chestermere, AB product more than doubled his offensive output from the previous season. Crnkovic also saved his best for last with seven goals, two of which overtime winners, and 14 points in the final 10 games.
#30 Koen MacInnes – 22nd
Freshman goaltender Koen MacInnes is coming off a strong performance in his back-up role to starter Nolan Maier, which greatly escalated his final scouting ranking. The Burnaby, BC native shot up nine spots to 22nd among North American goaltenders after putting together a 14-5-1-0 record. The 6’2″, 184lbs keeper also recorded an impressive three shutouts, and finished the season with a 2.84 GAA and .901 save percentage.
Another potential draftee could be defenceman Radek Kucerik.
Entering his draft-eligible year, the Czech Republican potted 3 goals and 10 assists for 13 points as a rookie for the Blades. Most notably, Kucerik also has a strong history of wearing his nation’s colours, having played in U16, U17, and U18 international competition. Kucerik is also set to lace up with the Czech Republican’s national junior team, having received his invite to camp for a second straight year.
For more on this year’s NHL Entry Draft, including exclusive interviews with several draft-eligible Blades, check out our Blades Uncut “NHL Draft Preview” episode!