The NHL Entry Draft is a collective meeting in which the franchises of the National Hockey League systematically select the rights to available amateur players who meet the eligibility requirements to play professional hockey in the NHL.
The first NHL Amateur Draft was held on June 5, 1963 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec. Any amateur player that was 17 years of age and older and was not already sponsored by an NHL club was eligible to be drafted.
In 1969 the rules were changed so that any amateur player under the age of 20 was eligible to be drafted. 84 players (more than four times the average in each of the first six drafts) were selected that year.
In 1979, the name of the Draft was changed from "Amateur" to "Entry" to accommodate a rule change that allowed players who had previously played professionally to be drafted. This rule change was made to facilitate the absorption of players from the now defunct World Hockey Association.
Beginning in 1980 and continuing today, any player who is 18-20 years old is eligible to be drafted. In addition, any non-North American player over the age of 20 can be selected.
Also in 1980, the Entry Draft became a public event. Prior to this year the Entry Draft was conducted in Montreal hotels or League offices and was closed to the general public. The 1980 draft was held in the Montreal Forum and there were more than 2,500 fans in attendance.
Live television coverage of the Draft began in 1984 when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covered the event in both English and French for Canadian audiences. SportsChannel America began covering the event in the United States in 1989.
The C form was the standard document issued by the National Hockey League to acquire amateur players in the Original Six era. Prior to the Universal Draft of 1969, amateur drafts were for players who were not on a sponsorship list.
The form, which usually led to a professional contract, would be signed by an amateur prospect at age 18 and it was permissible to be renewed only once. The player would usually be a member of a junior team that was affiliated with a National Hockey League franchise.
Misconceptions about the C form
There was a popular view at the time that parents signed very young children's hockey lives over to the teams. This comes from the fact that at the time, most Junior clubs were owned or subsidised by NHL teams, and usually subsidised minor hockey in their areas.
However, a prospect had to be 18 years of age or older to sign a C-Form. Players as young as 14 could be put on a 4-name future negotiation list (as was the case for Bobby Orr in 1962).
List of Drafts
- 2017 NHL Entry Draft - United Center - Chicago, Illinois
- 2016 NHL Entry Draft - First Niagara Center - Buffalo, New York
- 2015 NHL Entry Draft - BB&T Center - Sunrise, Florida
- 2014 NHL Entry Draft - Wells Fargo Center -Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 2013 NHL Entry Draft - Prudential Center - Newark, New Jersey
- 2012 NHL Entry Draft - Consol Energy Center - Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
- 2011 NHL Entry Draft - Xcel Energy Center - St. Paul, Minnesota
- 2010 NHL Entry Draft - Staples Center - Los Angeles California
- 2009 NHL Entry Draft - Bell Centre - Montreal, Quebec
- 2008 NHL Entry Draft - Scotiabank Place - Ottawa, Ontario
- 2007 NHL Entry Draft - Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
- 2006 NHL Entry Draft - GM Place - Vancouver, British Columbia
- 2005 NHL Entry Draft - The Westin Ottawa - Ottawa, Ontario
- 2004 NHL Entry Draft - RBC Center - Raleigh, North Carolina
- 2003 NHL Entry Draft - Gaylord Entertainment Center - Nashville, Tennessee
- 2002 NHL Entry Draft - Air Canada Centre - Toronto, Ontario
- 2001 NHL Entry Draft - National Car Rental Center - Sunrise, Florida
- 2000 NHL Entry Draft - Pengrowth Saddledome - Calgary, Alberta
- 1999 NHL Entry Draft - FleetCenter - Boston, Massachusetts
- 1998 NHL Entry Draft - Marine Midland Arena - Buffalo, New York
- 1997 NHL Entry Draft - Civic Arena - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- 1996 NHL Entry Draft - Kiel Center - St. Louis, Missouri
- 1995 NHL Entry Draft - Edmonton Coliseum - Edmonton, Alberta
- 1994 NHL Entry Draft - Hartford Civic Center - Hartford, Connecticut
- 1993 NHL Entry Draft - Colisée de Quebec - Quebec City, Quebec
- 1992 NHL Entry Draft - Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1991 NHL Entry Draft - Memorial Auditorium - Buffalo, New York
- 1990 NHL Entry Draft - B.C. Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
- 1989 NHL Entry Draft - Metropolitan Sports Center - Bloomington, Minnesota
- 1988 NHL Entry Draft - Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1987 NHL Entry Draft - Joe Louis Arena - Detroit, Michigan
- 1986 NHL Entry Draft - Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1985 NHL Entry Draft - Metro Toronto Convention Centre - Toronto, Ontario
- 1984 NHL Entry Draft - Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1983 NHL Entry Draft - Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1982 NHL Entry Draft - Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1981 NHL Entry Draft - Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1980 NHL Entry Draft -Montreal Forum - Montreal, Quebec
- 1979 NHL Entry Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1978 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1977 NHL Amateur Draft - Mount Royal Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1976 NHL Amateur Draft - NHL Office - Montreal, Quebec
- 1975 NHL Amateur Draft - NHL Office - Montreal, Quebec
- 1974 NHL Amateur Draft - NHL Office - Montreal, Quebec
- 1973 NHL Amateur Draft - Mount Royal Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1972 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1971 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1970 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1969 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1968 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1967 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1966 NHL Amateur Draft - Mount Royal Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1965 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1964 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
- 1963 NHL Amateur Draft - Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal, Quebec
NHL Draft busts and steals
The NHL draft is often unpredictable in terms of what a draft pick will achieve as a professional. It is impossible to predict with absolute certainty how successful a young player will be in the NHL, and many factors weigh on a player's development. Determining a young player's potential is not an exact science: scouts and managers can misevaluate talent or young players can simply fail to reach their potential. Some players are heralded as the next Mario Lemieux and selected with an early pick only to end up a career minor leaguer. Such players are considered draft "busts".
- 2000-Alexei Smirnov, Anaheim Ducks (12th overall)
- 1999-Patrick Stefan, Atlanta Thrashers (1st overall)
- 1999-Pavel Brendl, New York Rangers (4th overall)
- 1999-Brian Finley. Nashville Predators (6th overall)
- 1997-Daniel Tkaczuk, Calgary Flames (6th overall)
- 1996-Alexandre Volchkov, Washington Capitals (4th overall)
- 1994-Jason Bonsignore, Edmonton Oilers (4th overall)
- 1993-Alexandre Daigle, Ottawa Senators (1st overall)
- 1992-Ryan Sittler, Philadelphia Flyers (7th overall)
- 1991-Pat Falloon, San Jose Sharks (2nd overall)
- 1989-Dave Chyzowski, New York Islanders (2nd overall)
- 1987-Bryan Fogarty, Quebec Nordiques (7th overall)
- 1983-Brian Lawton, Minnesota North Stars (1st overall)
- 1982-Gord Kluzak, Boston Bruins (1st overall)
- 1980-Doug Wickenheiser, Montreal Canadiens (1st overall)
- 1975-Barry Dean, Kansas City Scouts (2nd overall)
- 1974-Greg Joly, Washington Capitals (1st overall)
Likewise, a prospect that had been shrugged off by scouts as not having an impact in the NHL ends up having a fruitful or outstanding career in the league. In this case, a player is considered to be a draft "steal".
- 2000-Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (7th round, 205th overall)
- 1999-Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings (7th round, 210th overall)
- 1998-Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings (6th round, 171st overall)
- 1996-Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs (8th round, 204th overall)
- 1994-Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators (6th round, 133rd overall)
- 1994-Tomas Holmstrom, Detroit Red Wings (10th round, 257 overall)
- 1993-Pavol Demitra, Ottawa Senators (9th round, 227th overall)
- 1992-Nikolai Khabibulin, Winnipeg Jets (9th round, 204th overall)
- 1990-Peter Bondra, Washington Capitals (8th round, 156th overall)
- 1989-Pavel Bure, Vancouver Canucks (6th round, 113th overall)
- 1987-Theoren Fleury, Calgary Flames (8th round, 166th overall)
- 1984-Luc Robitaille, Los Angeles Kings (9th round, 171st overall)
- 1984-Brett Hull, Calgary Flames (6th round, 117th overall)
- 1983-Dominik Hasek, Chicago Blackhawks (10th round, 199th overall)
- 1982-Doug Gilmour, St. Louis Blues (7th round, 134th overall)
- 1980-Steve Larmer, Chicago Blackhawks (6th round, 120th overall)
There are no set criteria for labeling a player a bust or a steal, so the terminology is subjective by definition. Most of the time, players are termed busts if they are selected early in the draft and never make it as an NHL player, and players are considered steals if they are taken in the later rounds and become a top NHL pro. However, the terms can also be used more loosely: any player who fails to live up to expectations could be called a bust, and any player who outperforms those who were taken ahead of him could be called a steal.
In the 1974 entry draft, Buffalo Sabres General Manager Punch Imlach deliberately selected an imaginary Japanese center, Taro Tsujimoto, supposedly of the Tokyo Katanas of the Japanese Ice Hockey League, in the 11th round (183rd overall). Only after weeks had passed did the league discover that Tsujimoto did not in fact exist. Imlach later revealed that he had played the prank because of his frustration with the excessive tedium and length of that year's draft proceedings. Today, the league officially records the 183rd selection of the 1974 entry draft as an "invalid claim".
Player numbers by league summary
Below is a chart showing where players have been drafted from by year. The leagues represented are the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, United States Colleges, United States High Schools, International players. Those player listed under Other do not fit any of the other listed categories. International players who were playing for teams in North American leagues are listed in the chart as being drafted from their respective league rather than being listed as international. 
|Total Players Drafted (1969-2006):||8,727|
|National Hockey League|
|Structure||Playoffs (Streaks • Droughts • All-time playoff series) • Conference Finals • Finals|
|Annual events||Seasons • Stanley Cup (Champions • Winning players • Traditions and anecdotes) • Presidents' Trophy • All-Star Game • Draft • Awards • All-Star Teams|
|Players||List of players • Association • Retired jersey numbers • Captains|
|History||Lore • Organizational changes :: • Defunct teams • NHA • Original Six • 1967 Expansion • WHA Merger • Lockouts|
|Others||Outdoor games (Winter Classic • Heritage Classic • Stadium Series) • Potential expansion • Hall of Fame (Members) • Rivalries • Arenas • Rules • Fighting • Violence : International games • Kraft Hockeyville • Collective bargaining agreement • Television and radio coverage|
|Category • 2019–20 Season • 2020–21 Season • 2021–22 Season|