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NHL Draft 101: Rules and information

by Kristyn Repke / Columbus Blue Jackets

This year’s NHL Draft will take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ—the home of the New Jersey Devils. All seven rounds will take place on June 30 and the action starts at 3 p.m. This will be the first year in which all rounds of the NHL Draft will take place in a single day since 2006.

How do players even enter the NHL Draft?

To be eligible, players must be 18 years old by Sept. 15 and under 20 years old by Dec. 31 in the draft year. However, non-North American players over 20 years old are eligible. North American players who go undrafted by age 20 are considered to be unrestricted free agents (UFAs). All non-North Americans MUST be drafted before they can sign an NHL contract, despite their age.

Can players re-enter the draft years after they have been drafted before?

Yes. If an NHL team does not sign a player within the two years in which he was drafted, he can re-enter the draft as long as he is 20 years old or younger for his second draft. Players over 20 years old automatically become UFAs. Players can only enter the NHL Draft twice.

For college NCAA players that have been drafted, NHL teams retain their rights until 30 days after the player has left college.

A team that does not sign a first-round draft pick receives a compensatory pick in a future draft upon losing the rights to that player, determined on a case-by-case basis.

How is the draft selection order determined?

The teams that miss the playoffs automatically receive the top 14 picks in the draft for the next season. So, the 14 teams that missed the 2012-13 playoffs have the top 14 selections for the 2013 NHL Draft.

These teams are then ranked in point order from lowest point total to highest point total that still missed the playoffs. The team with the lowest point total has the highest chance of winning the lottery and thus the first overall draft pick. However, the team with the best probability is not guaranteed the first overall pick. The probability percentages are as follows:

Team 1 25.0%

Team 2 18.8%

Team 3 14.2%

Team 4 10.7%

Team 5 8.1%

Team 6 6.2%

Team 7 4.7%

Team 8 3.6%

Team 9 2.7%

Team 10 2.1%

Team 11 1.5%

Team 12 1.1%

Team 13 0.8%

Team 14 0.5%

The remaining teams that made the playoffs’ picks are then determined by the results of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team eliminated first receives the 15th pick; the Stanley Cup-winning team receives the 30th overall pick.

Teams also have the ability to trade picks during the season or in prior seasons. This affects the draft order by round and can be determined based on playoff finishes and draft lottery results.

How much time do teams have to make selections?

Once the clock starts, a team has three minutes to make a selection (a rule for 2013 only). This rule applies for each round of the draft. For the entire draft, each team is allowed five 5-minute timeouts.

How can I watch the NHL Draft?

The Blue Jackets will host an NHL Draft party at Nationwide Arena beginning at 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Live TV coverage will begin at 3 p.m. on NBC Sports Network in the US and on TSN in Canada. NHL Network will show late-round coverage starting at 8 p.m.

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