Written by Sunny

Modified & Updated: 31 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

2023 NHL Draft

The NHL Draft is an annual event that has been a cornerstone of the National Hockey League since its inception. It’s a time of excitement, anticipation, and speculation as teams select the next generation of hockey stars. Here are 23 fascinating facts about the NHL Draft that every hockey fan should know.

Table of Contents

The Inception of the NHL Draft

The first NHL Draft, known then as the NHL Amateur Draft, took place in 1963. It was established to provide a fair system for distributing amateur players to the teams.

The Youngest Player Ever Drafted

The youngest player ever drafted into the NHL was Bobby Carpenter. He was selected by the Washington Capitals in 1981 at the tender age of 18.

The Oldest First Overall Pick

The oldest player to be picked first overall in the NHL Draft was Gord Kluzak, who was 18 years and 259 days old when the Boston Bruins selected him in 1982.

The “Russian Factor”

The “Russian Factor” is a term used in NHL Drafts to describe the perceived risk of drafting Russian players due to concerns about their willingness and ability to play in North America.

The First European Player Drafted

Thommie Bergman was the first European player ever drafted in the NHL. The Detroit Red Wings selected him in 1964.

The Most First Overall Picks by a Team

The Quebec Nordiques, now known as the Colorado Avalanche, hold the record for the most first overall picks in NHL Draft history with five.

The First Goalie Drafted First Overall

Michel Plasse was the first goalie to be drafted first overall. The Montreal Canadiens selected him in 1968.

The Most Drafted Position

Centers are the most drafted position in the NHL Draft, reflecting the importance of this role on the ice.

The Longest Wait to Play in the NHL

Ken Dryden was drafted in 1964 but didn’t play his first NHL game until 1971, marking the longest wait between being drafted and making an NHL debut.

The Most Successful Draft Year

The 2003 NHL Draft is often considered the most successful draft year, with a record number of players going on to have successful NHL careers.

The First Draft Lottery

The first NHL Draft Lottery took place in 1995, with the Los Angeles Kings winning the first overall pick.

The “Cinderella” Stories

There have been several “Cinderella” stories in the NHL Draft, with players drafted in the late rounds going on to have successful careers. The most notable is perhaps Luc Robitaille, who was drafted 171st overall in 1984 and went on to become a Hall of Famer.

The Draft Day Trades

Draft day trades are common in the NHL, with teams often trading picks for players or other picks.

The Expansion Drafts

In addition to the annual entry draft, the NHL also holds expansion drafts when new teams join the league. The most recent was in 2017 when the Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL.

Nashville NHL Draft
Image from ESPN

The “Steal” of the Draft

The term “steal” of the draft refers to a player who was selected in a later round but who outperforms players drafted earlier. One of the biggest steals in NHL Draft history is Pavel Datsyuk, who was selected 171st overall in 1998 and went on to become one of the best two-way forwards in the game.

The First Female Draftee

Manon Rhéaume made history as the first woman ever to be drafted by an NHL team. The Tampa Bay Lightning selected her as a goaltender in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.

The Sutter Family Legacy

The Sutter family holds the record for the most family members drafted into the NHL, with six brothers: Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich, and Ron.

The First Brothers Drafted First Overall

The Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, were the first brothers to be drafted first and second overall in the same year. The Vancouver Canucks selected them in the 1999 NHL Draft.

The Most Players Drafted from One Team

The London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League hold the record for the most players drafted from one team in a single year, with 10 players selected in the 2015 NHL Draft.

The First Player to Refuse His Draft Selection

Eric Lindros was the first player to refuse to play for the team that drafted him. After being selected first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1991, Lindros refused to sign, and he was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The First Non-North American First Overall Pick

Mats Sundin was the first non-North American player to be selected first overall in the NHL Draft. The Quebec Nordiques drafted him in 1989.

The Draft That Never Was

The 2005 NHL Draft, also known as the “Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes,” was held via a lottery due to the 2004-2005 NHL lockout.

The Impact of the NHL Draft

The NHL Draft has a significant impact on the league, shaping the future of teams and often determining their success for years to come.


The NHL Draft is a fascinating event, filled with anticipation and excitement. It’s a time when dreams come true for young players and when teams’ futures can be shaped for years to come. From the first draft in 1963 to the present day, the NHL Draft has been a cornerstone of the league and a key part of its history and tradition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When and where is the NHL Draft held?

The NHL Draft is typically held in June, at various locations around North America. The location changes each year.

How are players eligible for the NHL Draft?

Players must be at least 18 years old by September 15 of the draft year, and not older than 20 years old before December 31 of the draft year.

How many rounds are there in the NHL Draft?

The NHL Draft consists of seven rounds.

Can a player refuse to sign with the team that drafts him?

Yes, a player can refuse to sign with the team that drafts him, as Eric Lindros famously did in 1991.

What happens if a drafted player doesn’t sign with his team?

If a drafted player doesn’t sign with his team within two years, he can re-enter the draft.

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