NHL and NHLPA looking to make major changes to the NHL Draft

Tyler Ball
June 9, 2024  (2:00 PM)

Gary Bettman at the podium during the 2021 NHL Draft in Montreal.
Photo credit: Screenshot

Today a new report from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman has suggested that several NHL agents associated with the NHLPA are hoping to make major changes to the NHL Draft.

The NHL Draft is one of the most talked about and loved events of the NHL offseason. Many fans and media outlets go fully in on the draft covering player rankings and potential draft picks and storylines. Today a report from insider Elliotte Friedman has suggested that several agents around the NHL are unhappy with the draft format and are hoping to reduce the draft to just 4 rounds.
Some player agents believe the NHL Draft should be shortened to just 4 rounds, and there's a possibility that the NHLPA could fight for shortening the draft in the next CBA, per @FriedgeHNIC (32TP).

The reasoning is players that don't get contracts are mostly later-round picks, and people (mostly agents) wonder why players get tied to a team for 2-4 years, only to not get a contract from that team.

«They almost think it's like holding up a player from really beginning their NHL career. We'll see what happens there.»

The current CBA expires at the end of the 2025-26 season.
Friedman on 32TP: "There are some agents that believe, maybe even the PA believes it, we'll find out more about it, that the draft should be shortened to 4 rounds...If you look at the players that don't get contracts, very few of them are high picks, most of them are later picks"
While this discussion is set to happen several years before a change is officially made it sounds like something agents and players are passionate about. Many players drafted in later rounds do not get great opportunities to succeed due to players drafted in front of them signing first and taking up roster spots.
With the new format, there would be many more undrafted free agents. However, those players would have more control over their situation. They could sign where they feel they will develop best and go from there. This would also make teams prioritize taking players they want earlier than they might with the 7-round system.
As 2025-26 comes closer it will be interesting to see if this movement picks up steam. If it does we could see the NHL Draft essentially cut in half from its traditional format.