The Western Hockey League is moving their annual draft from May to December.

Their annual draft had been called the Bantam Draft but is being renamed the WHL Draft. Given that many of the players who would have been drafted in May wouldn’t have been able to play much in the last few months, the extra time is hoped to provide teams a better look at the players they’ll potentially be drafting.

“Moving the 2021 WHL Draft from May to December allows additional time for players in the 2006 age group to be evaluated following a challenging season due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ron Robison in a media release from the league Monday afternoon. “We anticipate minor hockey leagues and tournaments will be fully operational in the fall, which will allow players to compete at a high level once again.”

Players eligible for next December’s draft will be born in 2006.

The 2021 WHL Cup, which will feature teams of draft-eligible players from each province, will tentatively be scheduled for October.

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