Lou Lamoriello followed the NFL Draft closely as it was conducted via videoconferencing from April 23-25.
There’s a chance the NHL will have to follow a similar model whenever the league conducts its next draft. The 2020 edition was supposed to be in Montreal on June 26-27 but the league postponed it on March 25 in response to the global COVID-19 outbreak.
“I watched, certainly, the first full round and then I watched the next day to see what was different,” the Islanders president and general manager told Newsday on Friday. “I actually enjoyed it. I thought they did an excellent job of how they presented it.
“I’m sure the NHL Draft, if it has to go that route, will be done just as well, if not better,” Lamoriello added.
It’s unclear when the NHL will reschedule its draft – there was some speculation it could still be held in June before play potentially resumed – or if team personnel will be allowed to gather in small groups by that time.
Regardless of when the draft is held, the lead-up preparation has been altered.
The ability to scout prospects live also ended in March as almost the entire sports world was shut down. The NHL Scouting Combine, where the prospects come for testing and to be interviewed, was also postponed from its scheduled June 1-6 window in Buffalo, New York.
But Lamoriello does not see either as an obstacle.
“Most of the seasons were done, all the visuals and all the reports for the most part,” Lamoriello said. “We have all the games online. It’s still not as good as in person, but it’s the same for everyone.
“In fact, in my opinion, at the combine, we do less than we did years ago with reference to getting to know the players,” added Lamoriello, an NHL executive since taking over as the Devils’ boss in 1987. “You could test them on your own in the past. The combine now takes over and everybody has to watch the same test done. You cannot have them come in and have your doctors put them through programs. So, it’s really a level playing field.”
Actually, Lamoriello said each team now has more time to be deliberate about its draft preparation.
“You watch more films and you make sure you read every report,” Lamoriello said. “You have to be careful you’re not overanalytic about it.”