The National Hockey League offseason will finally get back to a sense of normalcy starting in the summer of 2022.
After two years of conducting the NHL Entry-Draft virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league announced Friday the 2022 NHL Draft is set to take place on Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.
“We are proud to announce that, once again, we are conducting our draft in front of the great fans of the Montreal Canadiens,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a league statement. “Montreal, the site of the first NHL Draft in 1963, is a wonderful place to bring the NHL family together and to focus on the future of our game as our clubs call the names of top prospects from around the world. We also thank Geoff Molson and the entire Canadiens organization for their cooperation and support while we needed to conduct the draft remotely the past two years.”
Montreal was originally set to host the 2020 NHL Draft before the 2019-20 season was completely disrupted in March of 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. The 2020 draft ended up getting pushed back to October, with the NHL conducting a shortened 2020 offseason to try and get the train back on its tracks.
There was some hope that Montreal could maybe host the 2021 NHL Draft following the shortened 2020-21 season, but it quickly became apparent that would not be the case with COVID-19 continuing to be an issue both in the United States in Canada.
Montreal is set to host the NHL Draft for the 27th time in league history, and the first time since the summer of 2009.
The last NHL Draft to take place in person was back in 2019 while at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbua. That draft saw Jack Hughes go off the board with the first overall pick to the New Jersey Devils.
The 2022 NHL Draft is set to take place nearly two full weeks behind it's normally scheduled time in late June. This is as expected with the entire 2021-22 season schedule being pushed back a week, plus with the NHL schedule taking a three-week pause for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
In addition, this year's entry-draft will begin with Round 1 on a Thursday instead of its usual Friday schedule. Round 2-7 of the 2022 NHL Draft will take place on that Friday, July 8 instead.
With the draft being pushed back into July, the start of NHL Free Agency and the official opening of the 2022-23 season will also be pushed back. It is expected that date