1) How players are chosen? Every team in the NHL gets to go through every round and pick a player. It would make perfect sense to say the team in 30th place at the end of the NHL season gets the 1st pick and the team that wins the Stanley Cup gets the last pick but that is not true. Welcome to the world of lotteries, trades and free agency.
1a) Lottery: The teams that finish last in the league enter a lottery. For example Colorado finished 29th in the league but since they won the lottery they get the 1st pick and beat the Florida Panthers which finished last in the league. The 14 teams that do not make playoffs are eligible for the lottery.
1b) Trade: A player can be traded on draft day, It makes no difference if he is a veteran or a rookie or being drafted that day. One of the best examples of a trade on draft day would involve Brain Burke, former GM of the Vancouver Canucks. After Burke knew he was going to get one Sedin he made phone calls and worked it so he got both Sedins. Daniel was drafted 2nd and Henrik was drafted 3rd and both wear Vancouver Canucks jerseys. But any player who is eligible to be traded can find himself packing his bags on this day.
1c) Free Agency: Two ways to become a free agent in the NHL. Either turn 27 or spend 7 years in the NHL with an expiring contract then they will become an UFA (unrestricted free agent) Also, a player can sign with a team after the age of 22 as a free agent, meaning they are never drafted. There is such a thing as a restricted free agent but we will talk about that another time.
2) You will often hear me say, "this player was drafted 8th overall in 2009" This NHL Draft is what I am talking about. The draft goes to round 7 but the longest running draft was back in 2000 when 293 players were drafted.
3) Have FUN with the draft! It doesn't matter what team to cheer for, draft day is really like no other. Players can change addresses in seconds and a team with the 9th overall pick may find a way to grab the 2nd pick with a deal.
There are rules and no rules. Especially with some of the agreements made after the lockout, teams have a little more flexibility and options not normally welcome this year to meet salary cap dollars.
Also, don't forget you can see rivalries heat up during the draft, or brothers pegged against each other. Case and point the Malcolm Subban drafting which saw Malcolm become a goalie for the Boston Bruins while his older brother PK was a rising star defenceman for the Montreal Canadians. A hatred that goes back to the beginning of hockey. They hugged and smiled but you can bet PK will be a thorn in his baby brother's butt while Malcolm has to try and stop the same shots he tried to stop as a kid with couch cushions strapped to his legs.
Good Luck Prospects and we can't wait to see you lace up your skates for the 2013-14 season!