What Happens After a NHL® Draft Pick is Selected – Behind the Scenes Running ‘The Gauntlet’


The moment a young hockey prospect hears their name called at the NHL® Draft is one they will remember for all their lives. What happens however after making their way to the stage is a flurry of action that most hockey fans do not know anything about, commonly called “The Gauntlet.” And for the first time ever, we are going to take you behind the scenes at this exciting series of events at the annual draft!


Hearing your name announced is just the beginning at the NHL Draft…


Right when the new draft pick is ushered off stage, they are assigned a handler who will help them run “The Gauntlet,” making sure they hit every stop they have to along the way.


This happy handler drew the #1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Aaron Ekblad.


After they have a handler, they are taken right to masses of media eager to interview them. There are over a hundred reporters eager for a story from these premier prospects. After being asked every question under the sun, they move on to the next round of “The Gauntlet.” Media are positioned in a variety of places throughout the arena and depending on the team and draft pick, sometimes the media will follow along with the player throughout the entire process.


This is just one of the many media areas behind the scenes at the annual NHL Draft.


Many players have media that follow them along throughout “The Gauntlet.”

Photo Shoots

Then it is time to strike a pose and show those pearly whites. The handlers deliver the draft pick to photo shoot areas back stage for NHL Images and Getty Images. These are the first images of these youngsters wearing the jersey of their new team that will be used for magazines, online stories, posters and more!

Upper Deck

The draft picks are then ushered off to the Upper Deck area where they will complete a variety of tasks in a relatively short amount of time.

  • Draft Board – The first thing these young rookies will do is sign Upper Deck’s living draft board that we update throughout the day. This year we were honored to have NHL® Commissioner Gary Bettman add his autograph to the draft board. We will have the board on display at company headquarters after the draft.

Leon Draisaitl adds his autograph to UD’s Draft Board.

  • Promotional Signatures – Draft picks will sign a small amount of promotional items like oversize tickets, pucks and hats that are used for promotional purposes for events like National Hockey Card Day, trade shows and in-store events.

William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs adds his autograph to a special blow-up NHL Draft Ticket UD will use for promotions in the future.


Aaron Ekblad signs promotional hats and pucks for UD after the 2014 NHL Draft.

  • Education – We don’t have much time with the rookies, but while we do we like to show them some of the recent cards we have created and hammer home how important they are to helping us deliver the best collectibles to fans by signing on time, having a good quality signature and being mindful about the condition of the cards when handling them.

After NHL Draft Picks sign a few promotional signatures, we also have the opportunity to talk about the cards and have several different types on display to show them.

  • Photo Shoot & Draft Jerseys – The young players then try on Upper Deck’s jerseys and hats that will be used for future draft day memorabilia cards while also doing a photo shoot. As we explain how these jerseys will be cut up and used on trading cards, some rookies joke, “Well I better try to get some sweat on it to make it special!” We have the rookies strike a variety of poses that will be used for both trading cards and promotional marketing materials.

Draft picks are coached through a variety of positions that could be used on new hockey trading cards.


We had a special moment as both of “The Sams” came through the UD area at the same time and posed for a picture together. Collectors will definitely be after cards of Sam Bennnett and Sam Reinhart in the future.


Sometimes there are little interruptions in the process, like when Travis Sanheim had to pause to take a congratulatory call from team president, Paul Holmgren.


Alex Tuch wanted to make sure fans got a jersey that felt worn so he added some stubble to the mix with a smile.

  • Video Shoot – Lastly the draft picks are asked a few questions that will be used for Upper Deck draft videos. We have some fun with some of these and you can expect to see some of these first videos in the coming weeks!

Right after the photo shoot, rookies are asked a couple questions for an upcoming UD Draft video.

Prospects Lounge

If at any time while the draft picks are running “The Gauntlet,” there is a backlog or they just need a spot to chill out, they can go to the Prospects Lounge. With comfortable couches, live streaming of the draft and refreshments, the Prospects Lounge is the perfect place to regroup.


When running “The Gauntlet” gets too stressful, prospects have a special area to chill out.

Family Area

Once the process is complete the handler delivers the draft pick to the private Family Area where they are reunited with their loved ones and the party really begins!


Once they have ran “The Gauntlet,” prospects are reunited with their family in a private area.


Backstage at the Family Area of the Draft is very busy.

The Upper Deck Booth

Right outside the Family Area is Upper Deck’s corporate booth where we run a variety of promotions throughout the weekend. Fans can score a special wrapper redemption set, get personalized trading cards made, get free autographs from players or even play some bubble hockey. And after running “The Gauntlet,” sometimes these young stars will drop by after visiting with their family to get their very first NHL® trading card made or to play a little bubble hockey!


First Round Pick Haydn Fleury watches as his nephews play bubble hockey at the Upper Deck booth!

It’s a special day. It’s a special moment in time for these players. And Upper Deck is there to capture it and deliver it to NHL® fans around the world through trading cards! The next generation of “Young Guns” are coming soon!

Categories : Hockey, Products



[…] NHL Draft® is an extremely busy time for UD staffers behind the scenes at “The Gauntlet.” Prospect after prospect pour through and we realized to be able to stay on top of what was […]

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