Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Remembering the supplemental draft, the entry draft's weird and short-lived cousin

Hockey history nerds: Are you all ready for the big anniversary? Got your balloons, streamers, and wall-length banners reading “Happy 37th”?

Literally everyone else: It’s OK that you have no idea what I’m talking about. You’re about to learn something, and while I can’t promise it will be educational or enriching, it will be weird.

This coming Sunday marks 37 years since the debut of a brief and essentially forgotten piece of the NHL offseason known as the supplemental draft. Not to be confused with the far more well-known entry draft (or the equally forgotten waiver draft), the supplemental draft was a special event specifically for college players. Not all of them, mind you, but we’ll get to that.

Of course, this being the NHL, even the simplest concepts inevitably go sideways. So as we get ready to celebrate the anniversary, let’s remember (and/or learn for the first time) 10 fun facts about the old supplemental draft.

1. The concept was relatively straightforward

So what was the supplemental draft? Basically, it was a way to assign the NHL rights of college players who were too old for the standard entry draft.

The supplemental draft was first established for the 1986 offseason. To be eligible, a player would have to be 21 or older and undrafted, with at least a year of college play but no professional experience. In its original form, the draft would last two rounds, with the first open only to non-playoff teams and the second open to everyone.

Simple enough, you might think. But why have the draft at all? And specifically, why suddenly implement it in the mid-80s, years after all the other draft rules had already been established?

Well, about that…

2. The draft was born because one team was annoying everyone

As with most things in life, the problem starts with the Detroit Red Wings.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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