SEATTLE (AP) — The last centralized NHL Draft for the foreseeable future is going out with the glitz and bright lights of Vegas.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday the league is moving forward with holding the 2024 draft at The Sphere in Las Vegas, the new venue that opened in September and bills itself as the largest spherical structure in the world.

Bettman said contracts still need to be finalized, but the league is excited about the possibilities for the draft.

“I think it’ll be a pretty well viewed event, both in terms of the draft itself and the viral use of The Sphere inside and outside using the globe. So we think it’ll be fun. We think it’ll be dramatic and compelling,” Bettman said after the league’s Board of Governors wrapped up two days of meetings in the market of the NHL’s most recent franchise addition.

The location of the draft before the league goes to a decentralized model where teams will stay in their home markets was the biggest piece of news to come from Bettman.

The league said the salary cap will go up to $87.7 million for the 2024-25 season. Plans are moving forward with the idea of a mini-international tournament in February 2025 featuring four countries as a lead in to the 2026 Olympics. But there remain issues to solve between the NHL, the IIHF and the IOC before an agreement can be reached that would allow players to play in the next Olympics.

Bettman said he is specifically concerned about the status of the arena being built for hockey and whether it will be completed in ample time before the Olympics.


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