With games currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL is looking at any and all possibilities that would allow them to finish the 2019-20 season. In an effort to do so, the league has already postponed the NHL Entry Draft indefinitely.
As of now, we don’t know when the draft will happen - there is talk that it could happen as late as October, if the league decides they can finish the season in August and September.
Whenever the draft happens, one thing is for sure - it’s not going to be the only thing postponed and/or cancelled. No announcements have been made, but there is no way teams are going to be able to run the development camps we usually see at the end of June. It’s likely that we will also see the cancellation of rookie camps/tournaments that are held later in the summer.
In the grand scheme of things, these cancellations will be a small blip on the radar for a league that is just trying to get back on the ice but it could have a major impact on young prospects who are trying to make the jump to the NHL next season.
Presumptive first overall pick Alexis Lafrenière is going to be in then NHL. He’s ready. The cancellation of development and rookie camps will have more of an impact on guys selected later. Guys like Marco Rossi, Cole Perfetti, and Jamie Drysdale are already too good for the CHL, Tim Stützle looks almost NHL ready and guys like Lucas Raymond and Anton Lundell would have a chance to impress their new NHL teams at camp.
Development camp is a chance for very young players to learn about the organization that just drafted them and for coaches to see how close they think top prospects are to the next level. Without a chance to work with coaches and teammates through the summer, there is a very good chance that Lafrenière is the only 2020 draft prospect to make the jump directly to the NHL.
This also applies to previously drafted prospects like Bowen Byram, Nick Robertson, Philip Tomasino, Connor McMichael and Dylan Cozens. These players have been through one summer of development with their NHL franchise, but this was set to be a formative one for them all.