NHL 2020 Mock Draft 1.0, Picks 1 to 15 ~ Post WJC (Standing as of January 9, 2020)
The draft is a funny beast. It’s a sensitive, subjective and often unforgiving. Years of prep work goes into a 24 hour span where teams hope the players taken will be part of the future. For us outsiders, making lists and rankings is easy. There are zero consequences to what we do. We can add players freely, move them around, plant our flags on any hill and then come August start the process all over again. For teams and their amateur scouting and development staff, the process is similar but with consequences. To me the trick for them is not adding players but eliminating them. Do you keep your reports on the players, definitely. But for who you want, narrowing the playing field is the hardest part. Every year a player comes out of no where and launches himself in to stardom, while other who have been perceived as the next sure thing just cant make the jump. Like clock work it happens every year. The 2020 draft has largely been seen as the next big forward draft, which, like 2015, is very top heavy and then evens out with some solid players rounding out the top 62. Outside of Drysdale, I really don’t see a defenseman been selected in the top 10, Justin Barron is dealing with blood clots and has not played much for Halifax this year. I do have him ranked here with an * and where I think he could go. I also have a ** by the Vancouver/Tampa Bay selection in the 1st because we wont know till the third mock draft who will be selecting with that pick thanks to a trade made last year. So without an further interruption, here is my first crack at this years 2020 draft, please note that this mock draft doesn’t follow how I have players ranked. Good luck to your favorite team and players!
1. Detroit Red Wing: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
The best player in the draft is going to Detroit. He will be an anchor of their top line for the next decade. With Lafreniere – Larkin – Zadina you have that top line that can compete against the best. Alexis has everything you want in an elite player, leadership, worth ethic, elite IQ, high end skill, great shot, he can skate and he has some nasty to his game.
2. Ottawa Senators: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
Don’t look now, but the Ottawa Senators have a lot of solid young players coming up. Adding your number 1 center in Byfield could be the prize they have waited for. In Byfield they will be getting a big, 6’5 man, who can play in all 3 zones very effectively. He has very soft hand, elite vision and for a man of his size, he can move very well. Him and Tkachuk are going to give team fits.
3. New Jersey Devil: Alexander Holtz: RW, Djurgarden (SHL)
The re-build is one. You have Hughes and Hishier down the middle, Smith, Okhotkuk and Bahl coming on the back end, if I’m the Devils, I’m continuing to build that top 6, so I add Holtz. NJ will be getting a solid winger who is hard to play against, wins board battles and is a great goal scorer. Add that with Hughes vision and playmaking, you have the making of a great top line
4. Los Angeles King: Jamie Drysdale, RHD, Erie (OHL)
Jamie is the best defender in the draft, and it’s not close. Everyone wants a defender who can skate, transition, play with pace and play big minutes. LA just drafted that. Adding Turcotte and Bjornfot last year and now adding Drysdale, LA has some real pieces to build around for the next wave of Kings.
5. Anaheim Ducks: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL)
It’s the Ducks, what they draft always turns into gold, so you know Raymond is going to be a star. Raymond is all speed, skill, motor, constant effort. He’s got it. Zegras fell to the Ducks last year and also drafted Tracey so they add the final piece to what looks to be the future forward trio of the Ducks.
6. Ottawa Senator (via San Jose): Cole Perfetti, LW, Saginaw (OHL)
The Senators have flipped the script, from being in the same place last year, they now get to cheer against a team every night for a top pick and Perfetti lands in their lap. Perfetti is destroying the OHL, everything he does, he does at an elite level. He’s a goal scorer, highly skilled, speedster who will work so very, very well with Byfield for so many years to come.
7. Montreal Canadiens: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
Marco is the center the Canadiens desperately need. While Kotkaniemi is a nice player, Rossi will become that superstar center they need. The year for the OHL continues with another player just destroying the OHL. Rossi is all skill, all speed, all vision and adding Caufield to his side, the Montreal fans will finally have something to cheer for.
8. Chicago Blackhawks: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (SM-Liiga)
They added Saskatoon Blade Star Dach at third overall last year and they will continue to rebuild the 3 time cup winning Hawks by adding Lundell. I really love the ability he has just to hold on to the puck. He is a possession monster and excellent in all 3 zones. While he may not be elite at anything, he is just a slight notch below that with everything he does. He is incredibly smart and patient with the puck, adding him to a top 6 that is slowly getting turned over to the next wave of Hawks is a big add.
9. New York Rangers: Tim Stutzle, C, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
The 7th 1st round pick in 3 drafts, NYR go back to Europe and add German teenager star Tim Stutzle. WJC was my first real look at him. I really liked the speed, and skill he played with. IQ and willingness to drive the net was impressive. While he played the wing at the tournament, I believe he is better suited at the C position down the road.
10. Buffalo Sabres: Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin (NCAA)
A personal favorite coming into the draft, the AJHL star made the jump to the NCAA this year, on a loaded Wisconsin team and has not looked out of place. He is a very hard working, in your face, 2-way C, that will become the number 1C there next year (assuming Turcotte leaves) He was invited to Canada’s WJC camp in December, and played well with the players around him. He has a heavy shot, quick hands and plays bigger than he is, which is still 6 ft 195lbs.
11. Nashville Predators: Jan Mysak, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
Nashville head back to the OHL, after taking Tomasino last year, and take newly imported Jan Mysak. Adding a fast, offensively talented Czech winger to a team that needs to add some youth to a solid but starting to get up there in age core is something needed in this off year for them.
12. Minnesota Wild: Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-Neva (VHL)
Oh the Wild. While I generally have some issue taking goalies in the first round, I think for a team that needs to move on from pieces and embrace the rebuild, start by taking a goalie. In a similar spot last year, they took Boldy and followed it up with a strong draft. Yaroslav is widely considered the best goalie prospect to come along since Carey Price and even beating out highly touted Spencer Knight. Here they get a goalie who’s dominated everywhere he has gone. While WJC was not his finest hour, he showed flashes of the poised goalie that took down the star powered NTDP team last year in the U-18 tourney. If this is the beginning of the rebuild, not having to worry about your goalie is a good way to start.
13. Florida Panthers: Jeremie Poirier, LHD, Saint John (QMJHL)
Florida did very well last time they drafted a player from the Sea Dogs, now they do it again and hope for a repeat high end player. Jeremie is all offense with a wicked slap shot. He is a solid skater, great passer and will add a different dynamic to the Florida defense which has started to creep up in age and he will find a great home on the Florida blue line for a long time.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets: Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (SHL)
A very highly skilled and creative winger with an elite shot and release who plays with some edge. His variety of shots is very impressive as well. Noel has some great vision to go with his playmaking ability. In a similar fashion to Alex Newhook (who didn’t make the Hlinka 2018 team) he didn’t make team Sweden U-18, which drove him and he looks more dangerous and productive since.
15. *Vancouver/Tampa Bay: Braden Schneider, RHD, Brandon (WHL)
For anyone who has followed me for some time or knows me, I have been on the Schneider train since his bantam draft. His best attribute is his leadership. Players follow this guy into battle as he leads by example. He is a solid defender with some nasty to his game. Braden is a good skater and even better passer. While representing Canada at the world stage, he has always stood out on the PK and has been a dangerous threat to score short handed as well. While his offense hasn’t come at the high pace as I thought, his defensive play has grown dramatically