Draft can't be legally held without CBA

Updated: November 18, 2004, 9:30 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- There won't be an NHL entry draft before a collective bargaining agreement is reached with the players' association, the director of the league's scouting department said.

Pickle overall: Crosby likely No. 1
Rimouski Oceanic center Sidney Crosby is expected to be picked first overall in the next NHL draft, whenever that is. The 17-year-old Canadian phenom, who has drawn comparisons to a young Wayne Gretzky, had 17 goals and 37 assists in his first 24 games this season and was ranked first among Quebec Major Junior League skaters by Central Scouting, which released its midseason report Wednesday.

Sudbury Wolves left winger Benoit Pouliot was ranked first in the Ontario Hockey League, while Vancouver Giants center Gilbert Brule was ranked first in the Western Hockey League. Boston College winger Dan Bertram was ranked first among U.S. college skaters.
The lockout has already wiped out more than 240 games, plus All-Star weekend, and it appears there won't be any NHL hockey before January -- if at all this season. The sides haven't met since Sept. 9 and no negotiations have been scheduled.

If the season goes by the boards, next June's draft -- scheduled to be held in Ottawa -- would be the next major event to be lost. The draft can't be legally held without a collective bargaining agreement.

If the lockout continues into next season and was then settled, Central Scouting director Frank Bonello said there could be two drafts within a few months.

"If there were to be an agreement, say January '06, we would have a draft shortly after that time so that we'd have it prior to June '06 when the next draft is," Bonello said. "In other words, we would be very anxious to get a draft in so we don't miss it if that is the case."

What would have to be hammered out as part of labor negotiations is the draft order. Normally teams own picks based on the previous season's standings and playoff results. The top picks are then determined by a weighted lottery.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press