The NHL plans to continue with the 2020 NHL Draft in June, with murmurs that it will begin earlier than usual. Below are my predictions as to where the top prospects in this draft class will land in the 1st Round. All of these picks are based on current standings in the NHL without the lottery nor the playoffs in consideration.
*Key: GP (games played), G (goals), A (assists), TP (total points), PIM (penalty minutes); GAA (goals against average), SV% (save percentage)
Detroit Red Wings #1: LW Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski – OHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 52 — (G) 35 — (A) 77 — (TP) 112 — (PIM) 40
Size: 6’1″ 193 lbs
- The Red Wings are in a full rebuild and will need an elite forward who will become the face of their franchise. Alexis is a generational talent who has a nack for grinding in the dirty areas and is willing to attack the net for gritty goals. He is the perfect winger to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Ottawa Senators #2: C Quinton Byfield (Sudbury – OHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 45 — (G) 32 — (A) 50 — (TP) 82 — (PIM) 44
Size: 6’4″ 215 lbs
- The Senators are in need of a future first-line center, and the large power forward will provide them with a strong and capable player in between the hash marks. While Byfield did not put up nearly as many points as some of his peers in the CHL this season, it does not negate the fact that he is an elite prospect ready to make his NHL debut in the red, black, and white.
Ottawa Senators (San José Sharks) #3: D Jamie Drysdale (Erie – OHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 49 — (G) 9 — (A) 38 — (TP) 48 — (PIM) 24
Size: 5’11” 175 lbs
- Along with a center, the Sens are in desperate need of a franchise two-way defenseman to join the offense and play the rush on defense. Drysdale is an elite defensive player who possesses high offensive potential. Look to Ottawa to draft the Erie Otters d-man as a replacement of Erik Karlsson.
L.A. Kings #4: C Marco Rossi (Ottawa – OHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 56 — (G) 39 — (A) 81 — (TP) 120 — (PIM) 40
Size: 5’9″ 183 lbs
- Ranking as the No. 6 North American Skater in the final NHL Central Scouting report, Rossi will jump up to No. 4 overall in the draft as the Kings will be looking for a high scoring forward to get the offense back on track. Because of his small frame, however, he will likely be forced to shift to the wing.
Anaheim Ducks #5: C Anton Lundell (HIFK – Finland)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 44 — (G) 10 — (A) 18 — (TP) 28 — (PIM) 18
Size: 6’1″ 185 lbs
- The Ducks are stuck with an aging offensive core and are in need of a successor to center Ryan Getzlaf when he hangs up the skates in the near future. Lundell has the prototypical size of an NHL center and after facing elite competition in the LIGA (Finland’s top professional league), he will be one of the earlier players from this draft class to transition to the NHL level.
New Jersey Devils #6: D Jake Sanderson (USA-18 – NTDP)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 47 — (G) 7 — (A) 22 — (TP) 29 — (PIM) 12
Size: 6’2″ 185 lbs
- The New Jersey Devils need an elite left-handed defenseman to strengthen their lackluster d-core. Sanderson is from the incredibly talented U.S. National Team Development Program (which essentially guarantees that any player chosen from this program is a certified stud). He will likely transition to a stay-at-home role at the NHL level.
Buffalo Sabers #7: LW Tim Stützle (Adler Mannheim – Germany)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 41 — (G) 7 — (A) 27 — (TP) 34 — (PIM) 12
Size: 6’1″ 187 lbs
- The Buffalo Sabers are likely to continue their trend of attempting to find another superstar forward to pair with Jack Eichel, as they have failed time and time again with poor selections on draft day. Should the German winger be available at No. 7 however, they will no longer have to search any longer for an elite forward. Playing in Germany’s top league, the DEL, he has shown the ability to play at a high competition level.
Montréal Canadiens #8: C Cole Perfetti (Saginaw – OHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 61 — (G) 37 — (A) 77 — (TP) 111 — (PIM) 16
Size: 5’11” 177 lbs
- Perfetti is another player who possesses incredible skills despite having a smaller frame compared to other centers in this draft class. The forward would provide the Habs with yet another highly-touted producer acquired via the draft. Adding Perfetti is just another reason as to why Montréal will be disgusting in the future.
Chicago Blackhawks #9: RW Alexander Holtz (Djugårdens IF – Sweden)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 35 — (G) 9 — (A) 7 — (TP) 16 — (PIM) 12
Size: 6’0″ 192 lbs
- The Chicago Blackhawks are looking to break the trend of drafting for need on defense and will focus on picking up the best player available, which happens to be Holtz — the No. 2 ranked International Skater on the final NHL Central Scouting report. Regarded as a tremendous skater, he will need time to adjust to the faster style of play in North America while working on his scoring abilities as well.
New Jersey Devils (Tampa Bay Lightning) #10:
RW Jack Quinn (Ottawa – OHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 62 — (G) 52 — (A) 37 — (TP) 89 — (PIM) 32
Size: 6’0″ 176 lbs
- After addressing the need on defense, and selecting a center No. 1 overall two years in a row (Nico Hischier in 2018, Jack Hughes in 2019), the Devils will be looking to add a talented winger to pair with one of those centermen. His 52 goals in the 2019-20 campaign indicate that Quinn is the goal-scoring winger that the Devils have been lacking since Ilya Kovalchuck.
Minnesota Wild #11: D Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert – WHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 64 — (G) 11 — (A) 29 — (TP) 40 — (PIM) 56
Size: 6’2″ 186 lbs
- The Wild’s defensive core is full of either aging veterans or fringe players who are filling the depth chart. By drafting the Prince Albert defenseman, the Wild will finally be able to upgrade a position that has been underwhelming for years.
New Jersey Devils (Tampa Bay Lightning) #12:
LW Lucas Raymond (Frolunda HC – Sweden)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 33 — (G) 4 — (A) 6 — (TP) 10 — (PIM) 4
Size: 5’11” 170 lbs
- The downside to Lucas Raymond is that we likely won’t see him play in the NHL for a few years as he needs to develop a bit more before he’s ready to play in the league. He has a very high ceiling and should he be developed properly in a good feeder program in North America, he will be one of the best players to emerge from this class.
Nashville Predators #13: RW John-Jason Peterka (München – Germany)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 42 — (G) 7 — (A) 4 — (TP) 11 — (PIM) 14
Size: 5’11” 192 lbs
- Peterka is a highly skilled German native who has experience playing at a high level in the DEL. He has the tangibles to be a Top 6 forward in the NHL, but will require some time to develop before making his way to Nashville.
Florida Panthers #14: D Braden Schneider (Brandon – WHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 60 — (G) 7 — (A) 35 — (TP) 42 — (PIM) 42
Size: 6’2″ 202 lbs
- Coming out of the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Schneider would provide the Panthers with the Top 4 defenseman that has been needed to pair with Aaron Ekblad. Offering good size and a great skill set, his only baggage is his discipline.
Calgary Flames #15: G Iaroslav Askarov (SKA – Russia-2)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 18 — (GAA) 2.45 — (SV%) .920
Size: 6’3″ 176 lbs
- Askarov is by far the top goaltender in this year’s draft class, and the competition isn’t even close. After previously being selected No. 3 overall in the previous mock draft, the right-handed Russian net-minder took a fall in draft stock due to lack of competition in the Russia-2 VHL league.
New York Rangers #16: LW Rodion Amirov (UFA – Russia)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 22 — (G) 0 — (A) 2 — (TP) 2 — (PIM) 4
Size: 6’0″ 167 lbs
- The Rangers will be questioned for drafting the Russian winger after putting up a mere 2 points in 22 games, but he possesses incredible scoring abilities and has immense potential to grow into a Top 6 forward in New York. Amirov has the best exposure to elite competition compared to the rest of this class as he is playing in Russia’s top league, the KHL, as an 18-year old.
Winnipeg Jets #17: D Helge Grans (Malmö – Sweden)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 21 — (G) 1 — (A) 2 — (TP) 3 — (PIM) 4
Size: 6’3″ 206 lbs
- After totaling a point per game in 27 games with the Malmö Redhawks junior club, he was promoted to the their SHL roster where he filled a more stay-at-home role with the club, as opposed to his preferred 2-way style. With Winnipeg buying out Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, they will need a replacement on defense, and Grans is an ideal suitor for the Jets.
New York Islanders #18: C Seth Jarvis (Portland – WHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 58 — (G) 42 — (A) 56 — (TP) 98 — (PIM) 24
Size: 5’10” 175 lbs
- The Isles are in need of a goal scorer who can complement rising star Matt Barzal, which is where Jarvis comes in. Scoring 42 goals for the Portland Winterhawks is just one of the many reasons as to why he is the guy to fill the stat sheet for the Islanders.
Columbus Blue Jackets #19:
C Dawson Mercer (Drummondville/Chicoutimi – QMJHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 42 — (G) 24 — (A) 36 — (TP) 60 — (PIM) 25
Size: 6’0″ 180 lbs
- Mercer’s point production dipped slightly after being traded from Drummondville to Chicoutimi in 2019-20, as his points per game percentage decreased by half a point. The forward plays with a chip on his shoulder following the trade in his draft year, and will be a solid investment for the Blue Jackets looking for a retooling of the offense.
Carolina Hurricanes (Toronto Maple Leafs) #20: C Dylan Holloway (Wisconsin – NCAA)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 35 — (G) 8 — (A) 9 — (TP) 17 — (PIM) 49
Size: 6’1″ 203 lbs
- The Canadian power forward fits the prototypical mold of a Carolina Hurricane and will bring even more grit to an already physical team. While discipline remains a concern, his skill set provides a valuable counter to his penalty minutes.
New York Rangers (Carolina Hurricanes) #21:
D Topi Niemelä (Karpat – Finland)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 43 — (G) 1 — (A) 6 — (TP) 7 — (PIM) 8
Size: 6’0″ 163 lbs
- When the Rangers traded away defenseman Brady Skjei to the Hurricanes for this 1st Round selection, it will be wise to address their less-than-strong defenseman pool.
Dallas Stars #22: C Connor Zary (Kamploops – WHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 57 — (G) 38 — (A) 48 — (TP) 86 — (PIM) 51
Size: 6’0″ 178 lbs
- Despite having a roster with a lot of potential, the Stars are looking for another piece or two that can give them the production they need to get over the hump in the Central Division. Adding a gritty forward with scoring abilities will be a perfect move for them headed into the new league year.
Edmonton Oilers #23: RW Noel Gunler (Lulea – Sweden)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 45 — (G) 4 — (A) 9 — (TP) 13 — (PIM) 16
Size: 6’2″ 176 lbs
- Gunler had a solid season this year in the elite SHL league in Sweden as he played in 45 games as an 18-year old. Despite slightly surpassing double-digits in points, playing in that many games for Lulea proves that he has the skill set to play against elite competition.
Las Vegas Golden Knights #24:
D William Wallinder (Modo Jr. – Sweden Jr.)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 37 — (G) 5 — (A) 19 — (TP) 24 — (PIM) 16
Size: 6’4″ 192 lbs
- The Golden Knights could use some more puck moving big-men in their defense. With an already solid d-core, adding Wallinder will give them an extra boost against their adversaries in the Pacific Division.
Minnesota Wild (Pittsburgh Penguins) #25: LW Lukas Reichel (Eisbaren Berlin – Germany)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 42 — (G) 12 — (A) 12 — (TP) 24 — (PIM) 0
Size: 6’0″ 170 lbs
- Reichel is an incredibly skilled forward who played will in the DEL this past season. The Wild will be receiving a future stud in their top-9 after taking an extra two years to develop his game.
Philadelphia Flyers #26: C Roni Hirvonen (Assat – Finland)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 52 — (G) 5 — (A) 11 — (TP) 16 — (PIM) 14
Size: 5’9″ 163 lbs
- Though the Finnish center has a high ceiling for development, his small frame raises some understandable concerns. His size will most definitely result in the transition from center to the wing in the NHL.
Washington Capitals #27: D Emil Andrae (HV71 Jr. – Sweden Jr.)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 40 — (G) 11 — (A) 27 — (TP) 38 — (PIM) 82
Size: 5’9″ 183 lbs
- The penalty minutes are a major concern, but it’s Andrae’s grittiness that makes him a target for the Capitals. Each year in the postseason, the Caps struggle against physical teams and by adding the Swedish aggressor, they will be able to match the intensity.
San José Sharks (Tampa Bay Lightning) #28:
C Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi – QMJHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 19 — (G) 2 — (A) 15 — (TP) 17 — (PIM) 10
Size: 6’0″ 180 lbs
- Lapierre was unable to showcase his talent in the 2019-20 campaign due to yet another concussion. The young forward has an injury-plagued career, and he will be the draft’s top wildcard as to who will be willing to take a risk on the center.
Colorado Avalanche #29: RW Jacob Perrault (Sarnia – OHL)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 57 — (G) 39 — (A) 31 — (TP) 70 — (PIM) 40
Size: 5’11” 200 lbs
- Perrault carries his size well and averaged 0.7 goals per game in a break out season for him. His production and intensity will be the cause for his daft stock to rise and provide him the opportunity to be drafted by the Avalanche in the 1st Round.
St. Louis Blues #30: C Marat Khusnutdinov (SKA-2 – Russia Jr.)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 44 — (G) 13 — (A) 25 — (TP) 38 — (PIM) 16
Size: 5’11” 176 lbs
- The Blues have arguably the best roster depth in the NHL, but their offensive core could use some insurance in the future once salaries begin to expire left and right. Adding the Russian forward will be that security in the event players walk in the future.
Anaheim Ducks (Boston Bruins) #31: D Eemil Viro (TPS – Finland)
2019-20 Stats: (GP) 29 — (G) 0 — (A) 3 — (TP) 3 — (PIM) 8
Size: 6’0″ 170 lbs
- Anaheim has an aging defense and will need to invest in it significantly in order to have future success. Viro may not be a high-scoring defenseman, but he will be a valuable puck-mover who can shut down the rush.