NHL

Utah GM Bill Armstrong Says NHL Draft Is ‘Wide Open’ After No. 1 Pick

Jun 25, 2024, 3:46 PM | Updated: Jun 26, 2024, 3:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITYUtah Hockey Club general manager Bill Armstrong said he believes the 2024 NHL Draft is “wide open” after the San Jose Sharks make the first pick.

Utah GM Bill Armstrong previews 2024 NHL Draft

The 62nd NHL Draft will be held at the Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada from June 28-29.

On Tuesday, June 28, Armstrong previewed the two-day event with the media.

Mystery after No. 1 pick

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“I think it’s probably an interesting draft in the sense that there’s basically anywhere from 10-12 guys that have the chance to go after the number one pick comes off the board,” Armstrong told KSL Sports. “So it’s wide open.”

The general manager added he thinks the draft will feature some surprises.

“There’s a lot of different ways the draft could go,” Armstrong said.

Utah’s position in NHL Draft

Armstrong said that he likes how his team is positioned with 13 picks, the most of any team in the league. Utah also owns the No. 6 overall pick in the first round.

“It’s a really good position to be in. This is the way that we designed it and built it,” Armstrong continued. “We’re an organization that will have a chance to win a championship, but only through the draft. That’s a big part of what we’re doing.”

The GM said that “very rarely” are “high-end” players traded for but rather top centers, defensemen, and goalies land with teams through the draft process.

“That’s what we’ve tried to do,” Armstrong said of getting young talent through the draft.

Utah worked out 12 players with projections outside of the first three rounds. The team got a look at the potential early-round picks at the NHL Combine.

No. 6 pick: Development & playing time

Armstrong said the No. 6 pick will be “an impact player at some point in their career.”

Utah’s general manager said that sometimes you can find a player early in the draft that will hit the ice at the NHL right away. However, Armstrong said Utah HC is in a position where it wants to develop its players. He didn’t rule out the franchise’s draft selections making the NHL team in training camp, but it usually “takes them a little bit of time and development. Armstrong said it’s “highly unlikely” Utah’s No. 6 pick will play at the NHL level in the 2024-25 season.

The GM is a “firm believer” in allowing young players to play a lot of minutes in the minor league and develop into an NHL player who will “fight harder” after learning lessons in the AHL.

“That’s part of our process,” Armstrong said. “When they come up, they’ll be extra ready.”

Positions of need

The GM said that Utah will look to address its depth and defense this offseason. However, Armstrong expects to add defensemen, “a few other pieces,” and more talent through free agency.

Winning trends in the NHL

After watching the Florida Panthers defeat the Edmonton Oilers to win the Stanley Cup a night earlier, Armstrong said Utah “definitely” has the chance to add some of the winning traits he saw in the playoffs.

One of the trends Armstrong called out was that “power plays are very dominant now.” He said the power play percentage of scoring has been “through the roof.” Armstrong also shared that the teams that were winning against them were ones with good penalty kills.

“They’re difference makers,” the GM said of elite power play and penalty kill players. “We’ve got to be very conscious of that. Anytime that we can add that in the draft will certainly help our team.”

He also said teams that are physical, outhit their opponent, and have “size and grit” are trends that always stay the same for him.

When is the 2024 NHL Draft?

The NHL Draft will be held in Las Vegas from June 28-29. The two-day event will begin with a first round of selections on June 28 followed by rounds 2-7 the next day.

Utah owns 13 picks in the draft, including No. 6 overall in the first round.

How to watch the 2024 NHL Draft

When

Round 1: Friday, June 28 at 5 p.m. (MT)

Rounds 2-7: Saturday, June 29 at 9:30 a.m. (MT)

Television

Round 1: ESPN and ESPN+

Rounds 2-7: NHL Network and ESPN+

NHL Draft Order

RELATED: Top 2024 NHL Draft Prospects For Utah

The first round order of the draft is set to be the following:

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

Kyle Ireland is a Utah Hockey Club Insider for KSLSports.com. Follow him on X (@kyleireland), Threads (@kyleirelandksl), and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).

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Utah GM Bill Armstrong Says NHL Draft Is ‘Wide Open’ After No. 1 Pick