CHICAGO – Just like most everything in 2020, the date, place, and the amount of people that will be there is going to be much different.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the NHL Draft from June to October in a year where the league was forced to move the rest of their season into a bubble and crown a Stanley Cup champion in late September.
Now the teams can get down to the business of adding new talent to their teams, including the Blackhawks, doing so in a much different way in 2020.
Originally scheduled to held in Montreal on June 26th and 27th, the draft is three-and-a-half months later on Tuesday thenWednesday. The first day will only feature the first round of selections with the other six coming on the second day.
There will be no stage introductions for the Blackhawks this year. Instead, general manager Stan Bowman will step up to a podium on a virtual set at Fifth-Third Arena, the team’s practice facility, to make the announcement.
Unlike 2019, Bowman will have to wait a bit longer to pick, since is selection is at No. 17 instead of three as it was 16 months ago. At the start of the draft, the Blackhawks have seven total picks:
3 79 and 81 (81st pick could move to up 76th)
Yet most of the focus will be on that first selection and the hope that it could be a strong addition for the team in the near future. Despite all of the changes that have been going on with this year’s selections, from the change of start time to the difference in scouting players, Bowman’s philosophy on that first round selection hasn’t changed.
“You have to take the player that you value the most and the best asset at that point,” said Bowman when asked if that first selection is picked for need or based on the best overall talent left. “Even if it’s in a position you have a lot of, I don’t think you should be drafting for positional needs when you’re drafting in the first round.”
At least he gets the chance to draft in this unusual year, even if it’s a little later than he might have hoped.