The NHL Entry Draft is an annual meeting in which every franchise of the National Hockey League (NHL) systematically select the rights to available amateur ice hockey players who meet draft eligibility requirements (North American players 18–20 years old and Europeans of all ages entering league for the first time, all others enter league as unrestricted free agents). The NHL Entry Draft is held once every year, generally within two to three months after the conclusion of the previous season. During the draft, teams take turns selecting amateur players from junior, collegiate, or European leagues.
The first draft was held in 1963, and has been held every year since. The NHL Entry Draft was known as the "NHL Amateur Draft" up until 1979. The entry draft has only been a public event since 1980, and a televised event since 1984. The order is determined by the standings at the end of the regular season, but with one team winning the NHL Draft Lottery and moving up 4 picks in the draft order. Teams at the bottom of the regular season standings are more likely to win the lottery.
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