An American television network has never put together their own telecast for the NHL Draft.
The first NHL draft to be broadcast was in 1987, and it was only shown north of the border by TSN. The first draft to be broadcast in the United States was two years later in 1989, when SportsChannel America simulcast TSN's coverage from Canada. When ESPN picked up NHL rights several years later, they continued that tradition, taking the feed from TSN and showing the Canadian broadcast to American viewers.
That's the way it was all the way through 2014 -- through the ESPN years, through the Versus years, and the last several years on NBCSN. American viewers wanting to watch the draft could not view it through an American broadcaster.
The coverage, while excellent, with broadcasters such as Bob McKenzie and James Duthie leading the way, was cast through a strong Canadian lens. Analysis, interviews and discussion were heavy on the Canadian side of things, which could get a little frustrating for an American fan who wanted to hear from American prospects drafted by American teams.
It's finally changing, though. TSN lost the rights to broadcast the NHL Draft last year when they were outbid by Rogers' Sportsnet, and with that, guys like McKenzie, Duthie, Craig Button and Darren Dreger lost the ability to cover the draft on television.
And NBC saw an opportunity. They're grabbing TSN's talent and will produce their own coverage of the first round of the NHL Draft this Friday in Florida.
TSN guys (McKenzie, Dreger, Button) on NBCSN for NHL Draft coverage this year. (No more Canadian simulcast! America gets its own show!)— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) June 22, 2015
I’m assuming NHL Network will take Sportsnet’s coverage for Rounds 2-7 on Saturday for United States viewers.— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) June 22, 2015
Liam McHugh will host alongside Bob McKenzie, Kathryn Tappen, Craig Button, Pierre McGuire and Darren Dreger. They'll go live at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, a half hour before the draft is set to begin and they'll carry coverage through the end of Round 1.
Canadians, meanwhile, will be without the best draft coverage in the business. They'll have to watch Sportsnet, and ... lots of them aren't happy about that.
Unfortunately for everybody, this only applies for Round 1 of the draft. NBC will not produce coverage for Day 2, so you'll be starting your Saturday morning with Sportsnet's simulcasted coverage on NHL Network.