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History of the NHL Draft

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
With the 2006 NHL Entry Draft coming up on June 24 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, B.C., has jumped into our yearly draft coverage. In this segment, we take a look at the evolution of the NHL Entry Draft.

Related Links:
Draft Summary

Noteworthy Picks

Drafted Brothers

Expansion Teams
NHL Central Scouting was first established prior to the 1975-76 season to provide a scouting and evaluation service for NHL member clubs. In its 30th year of operation, the NHL Central Scouting Service, headed by NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jim Gregory and Director of Central Scouting Frank Bonello, employs nine full-time scouts and six part-time scouts who report throughout North America.

Due to the growing talent base in Europe, Central Scouting works with Goren Stubb of European Scouting Service (ESS) in Finland and his staff of five full-time scouts to report on those prospects playing throughout Europe.

NHL Central Scouting Service, together with ESS, combined to see over 3,000 games this season world-wide.

Inception of the Amateur Draft
In an effort to eliminate the sponsorship of amateur teams and players by its member clubs, the National Hockey League began developing a drafting system that would provide each team with an equal opportunity to acquire amateur players.

"I'm trying to work out a system whereby all amateur players who will attain their 17th birthdays before August of each year will be available for drafting by NHL teams in the reverse order of the standing," said NHL President Clarence Campbell during the 1962-63 season. "We're ultimately hopeful it will produce a uniform opportunity for each team to acquire a star player."

The end result was the establishment of the NHL's Amateur Draft.

The first NHL Amateur Draft was held at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal on June 5, 1963. All amateur players, 17 years of age and older who were not already sponsored by an NHL club, were eligible to be drafted. Garry Monahan, a center from the St. Michael's Juveniles of Toronto, was selected first overall by the Montreal Canadiens.

The 1969 Draft marked the first year that the effects of NHL amateur sponsorship would not be seen, as every junior of qualifying age (20-years) was available for selection. Eighty-four players were selected that year, more than four times the average number of players chosen in each of the first six years of the Draft.

Entry Draft Replaces the Amateur Draft
In 1979, the name of the Draft was changed from "Amateur" to "Entry" to reflect the inclusion of young players eligible for selection who had played professionally in the now-defunct World Hockey Association.

Draft Eligibility
Beginning with the 1980 Entry Draft and continuing today, all 18, 19 and 20-year old North American and non-North American born players have been eligible to be drafted. In addition, non-North American players aged 21-years or older are eligible for claim. From 1987 to 1991, the selection of 18 and 19-year-old players was restricted to the first three rounds of the draft, unless the player met qualifying criteria that dealt with hockey experience in major junior, U.S. college and high school or European hockey. Starting with the 1992 Draft, those players were available in all rounds.

The first Draft held outside Montreal was in 1985, when the Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosted the event attended by 7,000 fans.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Radio-Canada provided the first live network television coverage in both English and French in 1984, coverage in the United States was first provided by SportsChannel America in 1989.

Drafting Order
The NHL's annual Draft Drawing is a weighted lottery system to determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks of the 2004 Entry Draft.

The 14 teams that did not qualify for this season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, or clubs that acquired those clubs' 2004 first-round draft picks participate in the Drawing.

Fourteen balls, numbered 1 to 14, are placed in a lottery machine. The machine expels four balls, forming a series of numbers. The four-digit series resulting from the expulsion of the balls are matched against a probability chart that divides the possible combinations among the 14 participating clubs.

The Club selected in the drawing may not move up more than four positions in the draft order, thus only the four Clubs with the fewest regular-season points have the opportunity to receive the first overall selection. No Club can move down more than one position as a result of the Draft Drawing.

Draft Becomes an Event for Fans
Prior to 1980, the Entry Draft was conducted in Montreal hotels or League offices, closed to the public. In 1980, the Entry Draft was transformed into a public event, staged in the Montreal Forum with more than 2,500 fans in attendance.

The first Draft held outside Montreal was in 1985, when the Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosted the event attended by 7,000 fans.

Note: In 1992, the Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL and QMJHL) introduced an Import Draft to allocate the services of European players. Consequently, Europeans who are drafted by NHL clubs while playing for a CHL team are listed as being drafted from their respective CHL leagues, not as international players. The same policy applies to European players who may be drafted while playing in any other North American leagues.

This report was taken from the Entry Draft section of
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