Mock Draft: Projecting top picks for the 2020 NHL Draft after part one of draft lottery
So, uh, we still don’t know which team will (almost certainly) pick Alexis Lafreniere first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. On the bright side, the zany draft lottery did determine picks two through eight of the 2020 NHL Draft. With that in mind, let’s ponder which players will represent the top eight picks by way of PHT’s mock draft.
Actually, perhaps you should consider this a mock draft of mock drafts. Maybe call it a consensus of consensuses?
PHT compiled the top 10 rankings from 11 different mock drafts/prospect rankings/big boards to put together a mock draft medley for the 2020 NHL Draft. If that doesn’t provide enough of a “consensus of consensuses,” consider how some of those mock drafts were compiled.
As a prominent example, TSN’s Bob McKenzie surveyed 10 scouts and presented that consensus. So this is a riddle wrapped in an enigma cooked with bacon, but for mock drafts for the 2020 NHL Draft. Or something like that.
For more insight on the process behind this mock draft for the 2020 NHL Draft, check the bottom of this post. You’ll find links to each of those 11 lists, too. What value!
Note: These rankings were compiled before the draft lottery, so yes, this leans toward “best player available” logic.
Lafreniere the near-unanimous top pick of 2020 NHL Draft
1. MYSTERY PLACEHOLDER TEAM -- Alexis Lafreniere
Give credit to Cam Robinson of Dobber Hockey for being the one brave soul who didn’t rank Lafreniere first. Before you gather torches and pitchforks, realize that Robinson merely ranked the winger second, and praised Lafreniere effusively.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman projects Lafreniere to be a “foundational player.” Others waffle between calling him a franchise player or, more modestly, a first-line winger. Maybe right off the bat.
So, will Lafreniere be special, or just really good? A team in the Qualifying Round will be glad to find out.
(Pauses for inevitable tanking jokes.)
[Click here for more on the NHL Draft Lottery.]
Second pick debates could be interesting
2. Los Angeles Kings - Quinton Byfield
Once you move beyond Lafreniere, Byfield stands tallest among top 2020 NHL Draft prospects -- literally and figuratively. Robinson ranked Byfield ahead of Lafreniere, believing that Byfield has potential to eventually surpass the probable top pick.
Now, not everyone ranks Byfield second among prospects. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler wonders (sub required) if some dipping opinions boil down to overexposure. Wheeler praised many aspects of Byfield’s game:
At times, NHL teams overvalue Huge Hockey Humans.
That said, it’s different when that Huge Hockey Human boasts discernible hockey skill. If Byfield puts it together, who knows what his ceiling can be? He also plays center, so Byfield could conceivably make the Kings really tough down the middle alongside (an admittedly aging but still effective) Anze Kopitar.
(Or someone else will get a potentially fantastic center.)
3. Ottawa Senators - Tim Stuetzle
Let’s move from size to speed.
In the eyes of a healthy number of scouts, Stuetzle is the second most enticing prospect.
“If there’s someone in this draft who could go by Lafreniere in the years to come, it’s this kid,” An anonymous NHL scout told TSN’s Bob McKenzie about Stuetzle. “It’s because of the skating.”
It’s possible that Stuetzle could go as high as second, yet there are some experts who barely squeeze the speedy German into the top seven. We’ll have to see how the Senators view the speedster. For all we know, Ottawa might try something bold with its two high first-rounders.
Room for movement after top three prospects in 2020 NHL Draft mocks
4. Detroit Red Wings - Jamie Drysdale
Largely believed to be the best defenseman in the 2020 NHL Draft, Drysdale should draw plenty of attention. Experts praise Drysdale’s skating -- not just speed, but strong edge work -- as one of his best qualities. Experts diverge, however, on how much of an impact Drysdale can make.
The Red Wings selected Moritz Seider during the 2019 NHL Draft, so maybe they’d prefer a forward. But ... honestly, they need a bit of everything after a profoundly disastrous season. The Red Wings simply need to pick who they believe is the best player available.
5. Ottawa Senators - Marco Rossi
From Cole Caufield to Alex DeBrincat, it feels like each draft sports at least one polarizing, undersized forward prospect. Rossi looks to fit that bill for the 2020 NHL Draft. The 5-foot-9 forward inspires a range of rankings, with some picking Rossi as high as third.
Count Rossi as one of those smaller forwards you might describe as feisty. Even so, Pronman and others are concerned that Rossi might not be speedy relative to his size.
Will we see another smaller, skillful player slip? That hinges on how the Senators and other teams (above/below them?) view Rossi’s potential. Ottawa might end up only being willing to (slightly) gamble on one of Stuetzle or Rossi, also. We’ll see.
(Also, the gap between Drysdale and Rossi was small, even though they’re quite different players.)
6. Anaheim Ducks - Lucas Raymond
More than one expert ranked Raymond as high as fourth. Among those, Robinson praises Raymond as “an explosive winger who is equally dangerous with his shot or pass” who boasts rare “escapability.”
The Ducks need all the offensive punch they can get, so Raymond -- or another forward -- would make total sense.
7. New Jersey Devils - Cole Perfetti
Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino describes Perfetti as “a magician in the offensive zone with his ability to change pace and find teammates.”
That said, Perfetti inspires a range of rankings, as some are concerned about his skating (at least for a 5-foot-11 player slightly on the smaller side).
Personally, I believe Perfetti should get bumped up a letter grade for having a tremendous name.
8. Buffalo Sabres - Alexander Holtz
McKenzie made an interesting comparison between Holtz and fellow Swedish prospect Lucas Raymond:
The Devils have locked down some high-end forward talent, but Holtz might be the sniper who really boosts a playmaker like, say, Jack Hughes. That said, the Devils also really need defense (and lots of other things), so it may come down to whether or not they believe Holtz is a potential 40-goal scorer (as Robinson believes).
(As a side note ... there were some close results from this experiment, but Perfetti and Holtz finished in a dead heat.)
Honorable mock draft mentions for 2020 NHL Draft
- Yaroslav Askarov (sometimes spelled Iaroslav) - Goalies don’t go in the first round very often. Despite that trend, Askarov has a chance to crack the top 10. Hey, if a goalie looks about as can’t-miss as goalie prospects can look, then it could be worth the risk, right?
- Jake Sanderson - A team looking for a defenseman might prefer Sanderson to Drysdale. He’s generally considered the second-best blueliner by mock drafters, but that can vary.
- Anton Lundell - The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy describes this center as “practically plug-and-play.” Lundell accounted well against older hockey players. Still, some wonder about his upside. When he showed well in rankings, Lundell generally peaked in the No. 9 or No. 10 spots.
- Jack Quinn - In ranking Quinn 10th, Cosentino described Quinn as one of the “best-in-class goal-scorers.” Selfishly, I’m pulling for Jack Quinn to join Jack or Quinn Hughes during his career. In an ideal world of chaos (we’re living in a less-than-ideal world of chaos)? Team up all three.
Method for mock draft for 2020 NHL Draft, and further reading
To reiterate, PHT collected the top 10 rankings from 11 mock drafts/draft boards. Every list came out in April at the earliest, while several were published this week.
You can see the results in this clunky spreadsheet. Here are the staffs and/or writers who produced such lists (note: some articles may require subscriptions):
- Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale, and Guillaume Lepage from NHL.com made their picks in April.
- TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently shared his final list.
- The Hockey Writers’ staff took turns making picks in May.
- Sam Cosentino just presented his 2020 NHL Draft rankings at Sportsnet.
- Cam Robinson boldly chose Byfield over Lafreniere at Dobber Hockey.
- Ryan Kennedy provided his list in May at The Hockey News.
- The Athletic staff traded off picks in April. Corey Pronman collected his own rankings in late May, while his colleague Scott Wheeler did the same days later (early June). Note that The Athletic generally requires a subscription for articles.