The NHL is headed to Nashville. The Predators will host the 2023 NHL Draft and the 2023 NHL Awards next year, the first time the events have been held in the same place since 2006. The award ceremony is set for June 26, while the draft will commence two days later on June 28 (a Wednesday) with the televised first round. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement:
We are thrilled to bring two of our marquee events – the 2023 NHL Awards and the 2023 NHL Draft – to Nashville, a special city that certainly knows how to throw a great party. From the 2003 NHL Draft to the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final to the 2022 NHL Stadium Series game, the city, the Predators organization and the Country Music community have overwhelmed the NHL with their welcome and support every time Nashville has hosted a League event. We cannot wait to return next June to celebrate the stars of our game and introduce the next generation of NHL Players.
The 2023 draft class is expected to be among the best the league has seen in years, with Connor Bedard, Matvei Michkov, Adam Fantilli, Zach Benson, Dalibor Dvorsky, and others looking like star-level talent (if not even better than that). Teams across the league are already trying to set themselves up for the best draft position possible to get a shot at Bedard in particular, who continues to wow audiences with a brilliant shot at the World Juniors, even if his overall impact on the game is limited at such a young age.
The Regina Pats superstar only turned 17 a few weeks ago, meaning he will not even be 18 by the time he is picked by an NHL franchise next summer. The hype by next year’s event will likely be out of control, and in a city known for its event planning, the draft should be a fun time for fans and players alike.