The 2022 NHL Draft will be held in Montreal at the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens. The event will be held over two days, starting on July 7. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement:
We are proud to announce that, once again, we are conducting our Draft in front of the great fans of the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal, the site of the first NHL Draft in 1963, is a wonderful place to bring the NHL family together and to focus on the future of our game as our Clubs call the names of top prospects from around the world. We also thank Geoff Molson and the entire Canadiens organization for their cooperation and support while we needed to conduct the Draft remotely the past two years.
The Canadiens had been set to host the 2020 draft before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be held virtually. The expectation since has always been that the league would return to Montreal as soon as it could, and now that is official.
The most interesting part about this announcement is that NHL free agency will not open on July 1, as it did prior to the COVID-shifted calendars. Agent Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey tweets that the frenzy will be pushed back to mid-July, meaning once again it will be a condensed offseason. This is likely in part due to the extended season, as this year’s schedule is made up of 200 days thanks to an Olympic break in February.
It also means as PuckPedia points out, that the majority of players with signing bonuses will have them paid before the draft and free agency. That could drastically affect teams’ plans and player movement heading into the draft, as huge chunks of salary will have already been paid out.