July 1 has long been a date hockey fans have circled on their calendar, and not just for obvious reasons.
Canada Day has traditionally been the kickoff of free agency in the NHL, causing a significant portion of the population to be glued to their TVs and phones on our country’s national holiday.
Well, just like seemingly everything in 2020, the pandemic has altered that tradition, with the NHL having to move everything back until after the completion of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
According to multiple reports today, the NHL has decided it will hold the draft on October 6-7, while free agency will begin on October 9 — just prior to the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend.
NHL Draft is being moved ahead a couple of days. First round Oct 6, rest on Oct. 7.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 8, 2020
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 8, 2020
The draft, which was supposed to take place at the Bell Centre in Montreal in June, will surely be held virtually. The New York Rangers have the first pick this year, followed by the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators.
The NHL has moved through the playoffs at record speed, often scheduling games back-to-back days and not taking breaks in between rounds.
The latest date for the Conference Finals is September 19, meaning the Final will begin shortly after and the Stanley Cup will be awarded in early October.
The start date of the 2020-21 season has yet to be announced, though the prevailing wisdom is that it should start in December.