The North American Hockey League has announced two major adjustments to this year’s NAHL Draft process, including the addition of a Supplemental Draft in May and the Draft itself being rescheduled for July 21. These changes come in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already led to the premature ending of the 2019-20 regular season.
Typically, teams identify the players they are interested in drafting using a combination of team scouting, Pre-Draft Evaluation Camps and NAHL combines. However, because of COVID-19, the league will not be hosting any combines and several teams (including the Jackalopes) have cancelled their May Pre-Draft Camps.
The Supplementary Draft will provide teams an opportunity to keep or acquire potential players to help build their rosters, without taking the risk of losing said players to other teams. Each NAHL team will receive three picks. These players are added to the team’s protected list and will not be eligible for the draft pool in July. Each team will also be receiving an additional tender which can be used following the conclusion of the Supplemental Draft.
“Obviously, without camps going on it’s tough to find and select players,” said Jackalopes head coach Jason Fortier. “This gives us another opportunity to add guys to our wheelhouse.”
The Entry Draft format and draft order will not be affected by the Supplemental Draft. As always, each of the 27 NAHL teams will turn in their protected list of veterans and tenders to the league prior to the draft. The number of players a team protects will determine the number of picks they will have in the Entry Draft. Meaning, a team with a high number of players on their protected list will receive fewer draft picks than a team that with a lower number of players on their protected list.
All players who played in the NAHL last season, and are still eligible to play next season, who are not protected by their team are entered into the draft pool with other prospects. As such, these players become eligible to be drafted by another team.
The draft order is determined by each team’s finish from last season. Wichita Falls, being a new program for the 2020-21 season, will have the first overall pick. The Odessa Jackalopes have the second overall pick.
While necessary changes are made as the league works through the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunity to grow and improve the Jackalopes organization remains there for the taking. Through this year’s Supplemental and Entry drafts, many great players will likely emerge. Last year, for example, Zach Stern was a high draft pick and was ultimately one of the 2019-20 Jackalopes team’s major strengths. This year’s draft promises to hold the same potential.
Both 2020-21 NAHL drafts will be broadcast live via HockeyTV.