The NHL announced its dates for the upcoming draft lottery and the Stanley Cup Finals, bringing hockey fans one step closer to the culmination of the season.
The draft lottery, which determines the order in which teams will select their prospects, will take place on June 2nd. The lottery will feature the 15 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs, as well as the placeholders for those teams that fall outside of the top 15 in the league standings. The placeholder system was introduced last year to account for the fact that the lottery would take place after the qualifying round of the playoffs had already been completed.
The team that wins the draft lottery will have the opportunity to select first overall in the upcoming NHL Draft, while the team that finishes second in the lottery will select second overall, and so on. This year’s draft is expected to be particularly deep, with several highly-touted prospects available for selection, including Owen Power, Luke Hughes, and William Eklund.
Meanwhile, the Stanley Cup Finals are set to commence on June 28th, with the winner of the playoffs earning the right to hoist the most coveted trophy in all of hockey. This year’s playoffs will feature a modified format, with the top four teams in each division competing in an intra-divisional tournament to determine who will advance to the semi-finals.
The play-in round is set to begin on May 15th, with the first round of the playoffs taking place shortly thereafter. The semi-finals are scheduled to begin on June 14th, with the winners of those matchups advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.
While the NHL’s schedule for the draft lottery and the Stanley Cup Finals provides fans with some much-needed clarity and anticipation, it also serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The league has taken numerous steps to safeguard its players and staff, including implementing extensive testing protocols and limiting travel between teams.
Despite the inherent uncertainties associated with the pandemic, however, NHL fans can still look forward to a thrilling conclusion to the 2021 season. With the draft lottery and the playoffs just weeks away, the excitement and drama of playoff hockey is almost here.