The Stanley Cup Playoffs have officially concluded after the Tampa Bay Lightning bested the Dallas Stars in Game 6 with a 2-0 shutout win in the Cup Finals. With captain Steven Stamkos finally hoisting Lord Stanley’s trophy and defenseman Victor Hedman receiving the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, the Lightning have finally exercised the demons surrounding the franchise. Now, with the playoffs over, the 2020 NHL Draft is among us, as the first round is set to begin (virtually) on October 6th, at 7:00 PM EST. With that being said, let’s take a look at the final predictions for the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft.
*Key: GP (games played), G (goals), A (assists), TP (total points), PIM (penalty minutes); GAA (goals-against average), SV% (save percentage)
New York Rangers #1:
LW Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski – QMJHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 52 — (G) 35 — (A) 77 — (TP) 112 — (PIM) 40
- Size: 6’1″ – 195 lbs
- Alexis Lafreniere is the clear-cut No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, as he checks off every box to project him as a future superstar. With such an incredible and diverse skill set, Lafreniere is expected to make an impact in the NHL right away Given the Rangers irrefutable need for a No. 1 center, it would not be a surprise to see New York trade back to a desperate team like the Edmonton Oilers.
Los Angeles Kings #2:
C Quinton Byfield (Sudbury – OHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 45 — (G) 32 — (A) 50 — (TP) 82 — (PIM) 44
- Size: 6’4″ – 215 lbs
- Quinton Byfield is the elite center the Kings have needed for years. He possesses immense raw talent, playmaking, offensive awareness, and has a large frame and physical game style that L.A. has trademarked for their players. Byfield could use another year of minor/junior league play before being submersed into the NHL. With that extra year of development, the power forward will be an absolute force to reckon with.
Ottawa Senators (San Jose 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
- As this draft class is littered with elite forwards, the Senators will look to find a complimentary right-handed defenseman for Thomas Chabot in Ottawa as they take the No. 1 defenseman on the draft board with Jamie Drysdale. What he lacks in size, Drysdale makes up for with elite skating abilities, playmaking, and offensive awareness as the offensive defenseman will look to be the new Erik Karlsson for the Senators. He could use some tuning and polishing in juniors for another year though before he makes his official rookie debut.
Detroit Red Wings #4:
LW Tim Stützle (Adler Mannheim – Germany)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 41 — (G) 7 — (A) 27 — (TP) 34 — (PIM) 12
- Size: 6’1″ – 187 lbs
- While they were robbed of the No. 1 pick, Detroit will make this work by selecting Tim Stützle, who dominated in the German professional league, the DEL, as a 17-year old, displaying sensational hockey IQ along with an elite skill set. Stützle has a tremendously high ceiling and is a sure-fire superstar. Given the forward was able to find significant production in the DEL, the Red Wings will give him a trial to see whether he’s ready for the NHL right away, or if he’ll need to develop for another year or so.
Ottawa Senators #5:
RW Alexander Holtz (Djugårdens IF – Sweden)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 35 — (G) 9 — (A) 7 — (TP) 16 — (PIM) 12
- Size: 6’0″ – 192 lbs
- After selecting their offensive defenseman with the No. 3 pick, the Sens look to reinforce their prospect pool on offense with Alexander Holtz. The Swedish forward is ranked as the No. 2 European Skater for the 2020 NHL Draft as a result of his superb skating and hockey smarts. He will need some time to develop in North America, but he will become an elite forward for the Senators as they look to expedite their rebuild process with two draft selections in the top 5.
Anaheim Ducks #6:
C Anton Lundell (HIFK – Finland)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 44 — (G) 10 — (A) 18 — (TP) 28 — (PIM) 18
- Size: 6’1″ – 185 lbs
- Anton Lundell will provide the Ducks with a jack of all trades. He has the size and IQ to lineup at the faceoff dot, as well as the skills and playmaking to be on the wing if need be. The Finland native has a tremendous amount of skill, with emphasis on a two-way style of play. The team will look to test the forward right away and see if he can make an impact in the NHL on Day 1.
New Jersey Devils #7:
D Jake Sanderson (NTDP – USA)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 47 — (G) 7 — (A) 22 — (TP) 29 — (PIM) 12
- Size: 6’2″ – 185 lbs
- There are not enough words to describe how perfect this pick would be for the Devils. New Jersey’s ideal model for a defenseman is a guy who is a reliable blue-line defender who can make a perfect breakout pass with very limited turnovers and that’s exactly what Jake Sanderson is. He is the franchise two-way, left-handed defenseman they’ve been longing for. This selection is the only one that matters for New Jersey. It’s Sanderson or nothing.
Buffalo Sabres #8:
LW Lucas Raymond (Frolunda – Sweden)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 33 — (G) 4 — (A) 6 — (TP) 10 — (PIM) 4
- Size: 5’11” – 170 lbs
- The Sabres are in dire need of finding a big piece for the future if they want to keep superstar Jack Eichel in town and drafting Lucas Raymond will be a good step in this direction. The Swedish forward has enough versatility to play anywhere on offense, and if he develops over the next 2-3 years into the player he’s projected to be, he’ll be an all-star in the NHL.
Minnesota Wild #9:
C Cole Perfetti (Saginaw – OHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 61 — (G) 37 — (A) 77 — (TP) 111 — (PIM) 16
- Size: 5’11” – 180 lbs
- In the 2020 NHL Draft, Minnesota needs to look no further in finding a pure goal-scorer than Cole “The Ontario Buzzsaw” Perfetti. While the forward may have to shift outside of the circle, as he is smaller than your standard center, it does not change the fact that Perfetti is automatic when it comes to threading the needle. The Whitby, ON native, will provide Minnesota with the elite playmaker they’ve been asking Mom and Dad for.
Winnipeg Jets #10:
C Marco Rossi (Ottawa – OHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 56 — (G) 39 — (A) 81 — (TP) 120 — (PIM) 40
- Size: 5’9″ – 183 lbs
- The only factor inhibiting Marco Rossi from being a top 5 selection is his less than appealing size. However, he can do everything remarkably well and competes with a chip on his shoulder. He will provide the Jets with a potential superstar in their increasingly deep prospect pool at No. 10.
Nashville Predators #11:
C Seth Jarvis (Portland – WHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 58 — (G) 42 — (A) 56 — (TP) 98 — (PIM) 24
- Size: 5’10” – 175 lbs
- The Predators struggled to find offensive consistency throughout the year, and it starts with the lack of goal-scorers on the team, as their scoring leader, Filip Forsberg, had just 21 goals on the year. If his development in juniors is any indicator, Jarvis will provide the Preds with a natural goal-scorer with top-six forward potential.
Florida Panthers #12:
RW Jack Quinn (Ottawa – OHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 62 — (G) 52 — (A) 37 — (TP) 89 — (PIM) 32
- Size: 6’0″ – 176 lbs
- You can never have too many players in the NHL who can score goals, which is exactly why the Panthers will draft Jack Quinn. With top-six potential, Jack Quinn has the opportunity to give Florida another big-time playmaker if he can build off of his career year from last season.
Carolina Hurricanes #13:
C Connor Zary (Kamloops – WHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 57 — (G) 38 — (A) 48 — (TP) 86 — (PIM) 51
- Size: 6’0″ – 180 lbs
- The Hurricanes have great depth scoring from all four lines on offense, but they are in need of a center who could fill in as a second/third-line guy who could still provide some firepower, and they’ll find that in Connor Zary who has top-nine potential, but will most likely need between 1-3 years of grooming before he’s ready for the NHL.
Edmonton Oilers #14:
G Yaroslav Askarov (SKA-St. Petersburg – Russia)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 18 — (GAA) 2.45 — (SV%) .920
- Size: 6’3″ – 176 lbs
- It’s highly improbable that the Oilers remain at No. 14 given the pressure that the best player in the world (Connor McDavid) has become increasingly frustrated each passing year as a result of poor team performances. Should they elect not to trade up though, they will look for their franchise netminder in Russian-born Yaroslav Askarov, who has elite starter potential in the NHL.
Toronto Maple Leafs (Pittsburgh Penguins) #15:
D Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert – WHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 64 — (G) 11 — (A) 29 — (TP) 40 — (PIM) 56
- Size: 6’2″ – 186 lbs
- As seen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Maple Leafs are desperate for a competent defenseman, therefore it’s likely the pressure from the media will force them to reach for Guhle, given his stay-at-home style of play with offensive upside as well. He’s a guy who could fit in the top-four on defense in 2-3 years.
Montréal Canadiens #16:
C Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi – QMJHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 19 — (G) 2 — (A) 15 — (TP) 17 — (PIM) 10
- Size: 6’0″ – 180 lbs
- As a result of an injury-plagued season, Lapierre has fallen from a top-10 bubble selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, to outside of the top-15. However, the Canadiens will look to strengthen an already elite young core with their selection of the high-risk/high-reward Quebéc native with top-six forward potential.
Chicago Blackhawks #17:
C Dylan Holloway (Wisconsin – NCAA)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 35 — (G) 8 — (A) 9 — (TP) 17 — (PIM) 49
- Size: 6’1″ – 203 lbs
- Holloway’s tenacity and physical dominance over his opponents are exactly what Chicago needs as they look to adopt a more aggressive style of play, and Holloway is a great addition with the potential to be a top-six forward.
New Jersey Devils (Vancouver Canucks via Tampa Bay Lightning) #18:
D Braden Schneider (Brandon – WHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 60 — (G) 7 — (A) 35 — (TP) 42 — (PIM) 42
- Size: 6’2″ – 202 lbs
- Braden Schneider may not be as highly touted of a lockdown defender as Sanderson, but he is still a great puck-moving defenseman who balances joining the rush and holding the line very well. He will have to spend between 2-4 years to mold into the prototypical defense-first player the Devils want.
Calgary Flames #19:
C Dawson Mercer (Chicoutimi – QMJHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 42 — (G) 24 — (A) 36 — (TP) 60 — (PIM) 25
- Size: 6’0″ – 180 lbs
- The Calgary Flames are in a rocky boat here, as they could either trade up or back in the first round to pick up a much-needed defenseman, or they’ll just stand pat and take versatile forward Dawson Mercer. With some development in his skating, Mercer will mold into a top-six player for Calgary.
New Jersey Devils (Arizona Coyotes) #20:
RW Jacob Perreault (Sarina – OHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 57 — (G) 39 — (A) 31 — (TP) 70 — (PIM) 40
- Size: 5’11” – 200 lbs
- The Devils will use their final pick in the first round to select Jacob Perreault — a guy who will do anything and everything for his team in order to win. Selecting Perreault will give the Devils one of the most prolific pure goal-scorers in the class.
Columbus Blue Jackets #21:
C Mavrik Bourque (Cataractes – QMJHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 49 — (G) 29 — (A) 42 — (TP) 71 — (PIM) 30
- Size: 5’11” – 185 lbs
- The Blue Jackets want their forwards to have the highest IQ’s who can make low-risk/high-reward plays all over the ice, thus they will be calling Mavrik Bourque on draft day due. His upside in the NHL could potentially be a top-six forward.
New York Rangers (Carolina Hurricanes) #22:
RW Noel Gunler (Lulea – Sweden)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 45 — (G) 4 — (A) 9 — (TP) 13 — (PIM) 16
- Size: 6’2″ – 176 lbs
- Noel Gunler is a highly-skilled forward who is widely regarded as the best overall skater in this draft class. With a couple of years of development, Gunler can become a solid top-nine forward for the Rangers.
Philadelphia Flyers #23:
D Justin Barron (Halifax – QMJHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 34 — (G) 4 — (A) 15 — (TP) 19 — (PIM) 6
- Size: 6’2″ – 198 lbs
- The Flyers could look to bolster their defensive group by adding a blue-liner to the mix in the first round. While Barron can contribute on offense, he will need time to work on his two-way game to contribute on defense in the NHL.
Washington Capitals #24:
LW Lukas Reichel (Eisbaren Berlin – Germany)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 42 — (G) 12 — (A) 12 — (TP) 24 — (PIM) 0
- Size: 6’0″ – 172 lbs
- The Capitals are in need of aggressive forecheckers on offense, and German forward Lukas Reichel fills that exact need. With development, he can transition to a top-nine role for Washington.
Colorado Avalanche #25:
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 arguably the biggest high-risk/high-reward prospect in the 2020 NHL Draft. He has the elite skill set to be a top-line forward in the NHL, but his decision making and his proneness to errors may limit him to a bottom-six role if he can’t correct them. The Avalanche are able to take this risk due to an already electric core of skaters.
St. Louis Blues #26:
D Helge Grans (Malmö – Sweden)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 21 — (G) 1 — (A) 2 — (TP) 3 — (PIM) 4
- Size: 6’3″ – 192 lbs
- An all-around solid two-way defenseman, Helge Grans will provide the Blues with a safe pick to bolster their back-end with a player who uses his large frame to his advantage and can move the puck well. Ljungby, Sweden native has a top-four ceiling and a top-six defenseman floor.
Anaheim Ducks (Boston Bruins) #27:
C Brendan Brisson (Steel – USHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 45 — (G) 24 — (A) 35 — (TP) 59 — (PIM) 50
- Size: 6’0″ – 185 lbs
- Brisson is an amazing pick with top-six upside for the Ducks here as they look to improve their depth at center. The freshman at the University of Michigan will likely remain there to develop for a minimum of two years.
Ottawa Senators (New York Islanders) #28:
C Tyson Foerster (Barrie – OHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 62 — (G) 36 — (A) 44 — (TP) 80 — (PIM) 53
- Size: 6’1″ – 194 lbs
- A sure-fire natural goal-scorer, Foerster has asserted himself with having one of the highest shooting-grades in the draft class along with a knack for playing big in the dirty areas. He has a ceiling of being a top-six/top-nine forward for the Senators.
Las Vegas Golden Knights #29:
LW Daniel Torgersson (Frölunda HC J20 – Sweden)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 39 — (G) 26 — (A) 18 — (TP) 44 — (PIM) 24
- Size: 6’3″ – 205 lbs
- The Golden Knights are partial to large forwards who can physically dominate their opponents while also having the IQ and skills to make big plays. As a top-nine forward, Torgersson provides Las Vegas with yet another large-frame forward capable of imposing his will on others.
Dallas Stars #30:
RW Ozzy Weisblatt (Prince Albert – WHL)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 64 — (G) 25 — (A) 45 — (TP) 70 — (PIM) 36
- Size: 5’10” – 183 lbs
- Recognized as an absolute buzzsaw from his relentless pressure in both ends of the ice, Weisblatt is a top-six/top-nine forward who further solidifies the Stars’ scheme comprised of skilled two-way forwards who can play a 200-foot game and aren’t afraid to throw a bodycheck here and there.
San Jose Sharks (Tampa Bay Lightning) #31:
C Thomas Bordeleau (NTDP – USA)
- 2019-20 Stats: (GP) 47 — (G) 16 — (A) 30 — (TP) 46 — (PIM) 16
- Size: 5’9″ – 179 lbs
- Despite a small frame, Bordeleau is a steal being an elite playmaker with sensational speed, breath-taking passing, and great puck control. The potential top-six forward will develop at the University of Michigan as a freshman with fellow draftee Brendan Brisson.