The 2019-20 NHL Regular Season is already 30 games through. Although it is only December, it is never too early to start looking ahead to the 2020 Draft. Year after year, many people have no idea who the top prospects are in the NHL Draft. This mock is based off of current standings, NOT the results of the lottery draft. Below will be picks 1-15 in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft this upcoming summer.
Detroit Red Wings #1: LW Alexis Lafreniere (QMJHL)
Size: 6’1” 196 lbs.
Strengths: Elite playmaker, exceptional stick skills and the natural ability to thread the needle.
Weaknesses: He will need to improve his defensive awareness, as well as adjust to the speed of the NHL, which includes making plays with very little time and space on the ice.
- Detroit is in need of a serious playmaker to support their natural scorer Filip Zadina (No. 16 in 2018). Alexis is proving to be the most NHL ready in this draft class and would make an immediate impact with the Red Wings.
New Jersey Devils #2: G Yaroslav Askarov (Russia)
Size: 6’3” 176 lbs.
Strengths: Highlight-reel glove and incredible athleticism.
Weaknesses: Smaller than the typical NHL goaltender and will need to rely on his athleticism to cover the net.
- The Devils have been desperate for a goaltender since the departure of the legendary Martin Brodeur. Although 2nd overall is very high for a goalie, Askarov could be the answer to their prayers, as he is an elite goalie ranked at #6 in the NHL Central Scouting Report. Not to mention the Devils’ history of selecting players of Russian descent.
Los Angeles Kings #3: RW Alexander Holtz (Sweden)
Size: 5’11” 192 lbs.
Strengths: Pure goal scorer with a bomb of a shot, precise shooting and plays a tough yet disciplined style of hockey.
Weaknesses: Lack of competition, SHL players don’t typically translate well to the NHL, undersized.
- L.A. is in desperate need of scoring from the wing. Holtz can surely fill that need, as he scored 30 goals and 17 assists in 38 games for the Djurgarden junior team in 2019. He is likely to be added to Sweden’s IIHF World Championship roster for 2020.
Ottawa Senators #4: C Quinton Byfield (OHL)
Size: 6’4” 215 lbs.
Strengths: Sheer physical dominance, powers his way easily towards the net due to his large frame and has a high ceiling for development.
Weaknesses: Average skating, above average skill set.
- Ottawa has shown an interest in prototypical players with a large frame to create traffic in front of the net. After being named Canadian Hockey Rookie of the Year in 2019, he has 50 points in 28 games this season with the Sudbury Wolves.
Chicago Blackhawks #5: D Jamie Drysdale (OHL)
Size: 5’11” 172 lbs.
Strengths: Offensive awareness, good skating and incredible hockey IQ.
Weaknesses: Small frame, needs to improve defensive awareness, needs to see the ice better.
- The Blackhawks will most likely continue their trend of drafting defensemen in the first round by selecting Drysdale. The two-way defenseman set a club record for most points by a rookie defenseman in 2019. With Chicago’s aging defensive core, the addition of Drysdale makes the most sense.
Columbus Blue Jackets #6: RW Lucas Raymond (Sweden)
Size: 5’11” 170 lbs.
Strengths: Explosive skating, exceptional stick skills and grit around the net.
Weaknesses: Lack of competition in Sweden.
- Columbus will likely be looking to fill the void that Artemi Panarin left behind this summer. Raymond makes the most sense due to his elite skating and hands, while not being afraid to jump into the carnage in front of the net.
Anaheim Ducks #7: C Cole Perfetti (OHL)
Size: 5’10” 177 lbs.
Strengths: High hockey IQ, plays with a chip on his shoulder and possesses an elite skill set.
Weaknesses: Undersized, will likely be moved to the outside as a wing.
- The Ducks have an aging core and will be looking to add young talent for the future. They will select Perfetti due to his ability to make smart plays and his competitive style of play.
New York Rangers #8: C Hendrix Lapierre (QMJHL)
Size: 5’11” 180 lbs.
Strengths: possesses a high hockey IQ, elite playmaking abilities and considered to have one of the highest potentials.
Weaknesses: Undersized as a center.
- The Rangers have committed to a small rebuild, and by adding Lapierre, they will have yet another elite prospect in their arsenal. Lapierre may be moved to the outside however, due to New York’s abundance of centers.
Nashville Predators #9: C/LW Anton Lundell (Finland)
Size: 6’1” 185 lbs.
Strengths: Two-way play-style while having a near perfect size, solid defensive awareness and is able to read plays exceptionally, being able to force turnovers.
Weaknesses: Does not generate a lot of production, faces little competition in Finland.
- Lundell is an ideal selection for Nashville, as they have a need for more help in the defensive zone to counter subpar goaltending. The biggest concern will be his transition from Finland’s Liiga to the NHL, as success in the Liiga does not typically carry over to the North American stage well.
Tampa Bay Lightning #10: C Marco Rossi (OHL)
Size: 5’9” 183 lbs.
Strengths: Physical in the defensive zone and possesses a high hockey IQ along with excellent hands.
Weaknesses: Undersized player, one of the oldest players in the draft, may not have a lot of room for growth.
- Tampa Bay likes to have smaller skaters on offense who are fast and have high intelligence in both ends of the ice. The Lightning are also in need of a left-handed center, which makes Rossi the best choice.
Toronto Maple Leafs #11: D Kaiden Guhle (WHL)
Size: 6’3” 187 lbs.
Strengths: Large puck-moving defenseman who skates well, has a rocket of a shot and has leadership qualities.
Weaknesses: Lack of competition, little production and is not the most disciplined when it comes to penalties.
- Toronto is in need of more puck-moving defensemen who can join the rush, which is where Guhle comes in. With a heavy shot and good size, he will be selected to bolster the Maple Leafs’ back-end.
Calgary Flames #12: C Dylan Holloway (NCAA)
Size: 6’0” 192 lbs.
Strengths: Complete skill set featuring great hands and a high motor.
Weaknesses: Talent in the NCAA is difficult to transfer to the NHL.
- Calgary will most likely be looking to generate more production on offense, and will look to the University of Wisconsin to find their newest addition in Holloway.
Montréal Canadiens #13: D Justin Barron (QMJHL)
Size: 6’2” 195 lbs.
Strengths: Exceptional skating abilities who can make plays across the entire length of the ice.
Weaknesses: Recently diagnosed with a blood clot and is out indefinitely
- Prior to his recent diagnosis, Barron had the appearance of being a prime selection for the Habs, who are in desperate need of help on defense.
Minnesota Wild #14: C Tim Stutzle (DEL)
Size: 5’11” 165 lbs.
Strengths: Good offensive awareness matched with good speed and hockey IQ
Weaknesses: Will need to gain weight and add muscle in order to play in the NHL, along with improving his defensive awareness.
- Minnesota will be in the hunt for a new counterman that can eventually develop into their go-to guy. This draft has a plethora of good centers, and Stutzle is one of them.
Buffalo Sabres #15: D Jake Sanderson (USNTDP)
Size: 6’1” 186 lbs.
Strengths: Excellent skater who utilizes his speed to move the puck.
Weaknesses: Lack of experience and competition.
- Buffalo could be looking to add an elite left-handed defenseman in their core to create more balance in the lineup. With a lot of solid d-men in the middle of the first round, the Sabres will likely select American Jake Sanderson.