NHL announces dates for NHL Draft, free agency

The 2020 NHL Draft will all take place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The National Hockey League officially announced on Friday some key offseason dates pertaining to the 2020 NHL Draft and the start of NHL Free Agency.

Starting with the draft, Round 1 of the annual event gets underway on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, while Rounds 2-7 will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 7 starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. Both days of the draft will be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for the opening of free agency, teams will be able to begin negotiation with pending unrestricted free agents on Friday, Oct. 9 at 12 p.m. ET.

It was first reported on Tuesday by Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman that the NHL was going to move up the draft by a few days. The league had originally planned to hold the NHL Draft on Oct. 9 and 10 when they announced some key offseason dates back in July.

The free agency period is opening as expected following the conclusion of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Edmonton bubble. The league is still expected to hold the final game of the Stanley Cup Final as late as Sunday, Oct. 4.

The 2020 NHL Draft was set to take place in Montreal, Quebec this season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2019-20 regular season and pushed its playoffs back to August.

The New York Rangers hold the first overall pick in the draft after winning Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery back on Aug. 10. With that pick, it is expected that they will select left winger Alexis Lafreniere, who is regarded as the consensus No. 1 overall player in this draft class.

Here is a look at the NHL Draft order, as of Sept. 11:

1.) New York Rangers
2.) Los Angeles Kings
3.) Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)
4.) Detroit Red Wings
5.) Ottawa Senators
6.) Anaheim Ducks
7.) New Jersey Devils
8.) Buffalo Sabres
9.) Minnesota Wild
10.) Winnipeg Jets
11.) Nashville Predators
12.) Florida Panthers
13.) Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)
14.) Edmonton Oilers
15.) Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh Penguins)
16.) Montreal Canadiens
17.) Chicago Blackhawks
18.) New Jersey Devils (from Arizona Coyotes)
19.) Calgary Flames
20.) New Jersey Devils (from Tampa Bay Lightning via Vancouver Canucks)
21.) Columbus Blue Jackets
22.) New York Rangers (from Carolina Hurricanes)
23.) Philadelphia Flyers
24.) Colorado Avalanche
25.) Washington Capitals
26.) St. Louis Blues
27.) Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)