An annual event where each NHL team selects the rights to available amateur players that meet draft eligibilty requirements. The draft is usually held in late June but depending on circumstances like lockouts and strikes can be held in other months. The order of the draft is determined by the regular season standings and playoffs where each team is sorted by their finishing in the standings including playoffs. However, a lottery system is put in place where all teams who miss the playoffs are entered into a lottery where each team has a mathematical chance to win the first pick. Draft picks can be traded up until the selection is required to be made.
The first ever was held on June 5, 1963 and was originally called the NHL Amateur Draft - the first pick was Garry Monahan by the Montreal Canadiens.
Draft eligibility requirements:
"All players age 19 or older [(i) any player who will be age 18 on or before September 15 in the year in which such Entry Draft is held, or (ii) reaches his 19th birthday between September 16 and December 31, both dates included, next following Entry Draft, can attain eligibility by delivering to the League a written notice (Opt in Form) prior to the later of May 1, or seven days following the date such player finishes competing on his team in the year in which such draft is to be held.] are eligible for claim in the Entry Draft, except:
(i) A Player on the Reserve List of a Club, other than as a try-out;
(ii) A player who has been claimed in two prior Entry Drafts;
(iii) A player who previously played in the League and became a free agent pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement;
(iv) A plyer age 21 or older who had played hockey for at least one season in North America when he was age 18, 19 or 20"