October 8, 2020

20 Takeaways from Day 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft

After months of delay and anticipation, the 2020 NHL Draft is complete.

The NHL wrapped up the event on Wednesday, holding rounds two through seven virtually. The event brought together management, draft-eligible prospects, and a few special guests from around the globe onto one screen for NHL fans.

While it wasn’t the same as the in-rink annual event, giving the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual NHL Draft was the best available option.

As always, there were some trends, some surprises, and some noteworthy topics tied to the draft.

Here are 20 takeaways from the second and final day of the 2020 NHL Draft:

1. A long day after a long wait

After waiting for the draft for over three months after it was originally scheduled, anticipation was high. Through the virtual aspect of the day, some of the movement of selections, and perhaps the difficulty of choices this year given the hectic scouting calendar, day two was long. The second day of the draft, originally scheduled for three hours on broadcasts, lasted seven hours and 32 minutes. It was a very long day.

2. Coyotes wait longer than anyone

Among those waiting, the Arizona Coyotes and their fans had to wait longer than anyone else, all the way to the fourth round and the No. 111 selection. After trading their first- and third-round selections and losing their second rounder due to violating the NHL’s draft scouting rules, the Coyotes sat back and watched as the first 110 prospects were selected. They then grabbed defender Mitchell Miller with their first pick of the day.

3. Size matters

One of the biggest trends for the day, perhaps what we’ll one day look back on as draft defining, was the tremendous fall of some of the smaller, highly-skilled players in this draft. Many players that the consensus had in the top-two rounds fell hard on day two, including Zion Nybeck (Round 4, 114th overall), Sean Farrell (Round 4, 124th overall), and Alexander Pashin (Round 7, 199th overall).

4. Except for the Hurricanes and Maple Leafs

However, two teams seemed to capitalize on the falling smaller prospects. The Hurricanes landed two of those players mentioned in Nybeck (5’6) and Pashin (5’8), also adding Seth Jarvis (5’10) and Vasiliy Ponomarev (5’10) in the first two rounds. The Maple Leafs, on the other hand, drafted all players 6-foot-1 and under, highlighted by Roni Hirvonen (5’9), Veeti Miettinen (5’9), and Joe Miller (5’8). The Hurricanes and Maple Leafs look to be leading the charge to an NHL where size plays less of a factor

5. Lack of blockbuster trades

With the salary cap remaining as it is for next season, many expected the 2020 NHL Draft to be busy in terms of trades with numerous big names in the rumour mill. That wasn’t the case, despite 27 trades taking place – mostly all draft pick swaps. The Ottawa Senators landing Matt Murray for a second-round pick and Jonathan Gruden was the largest transaction of the day, which died off quickly. With a very busy offseason ahead, more big moves were expected.

6. Kings add to system through trade

One trade that may be interesting to follow came from the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings, with Lias Andersson heading to the Kings in exchange for the No. 60 pick. Andersson was the No. 7 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, with 66 games under his belt. He was loaned to HV71 of the SHL and had requested a trade at one point. This could be a home-run acquisition for the Kings if Andersson can get back to the game that saw him selected so high in 2017.

7. Cuylle teaches us Star Wars trivia

In what some described as a slow day as the seven-hour day went on, fans were offered some levity in the interview with the Rangers second-round selection (acquired from the Andersson trade), William Cuylle. The winger is a Star Wars buff and took some time to give Sportsnet’s host some answer some Star Wars-relate questions. The Force is strong with this one.

8. Goalie run comes late

With questions surrounding who the second goalie taken off the board would be entering the day, one of the more surprising aspects of the draft was that there was no real ‘goalie run’ to get the netminders started as we’ve seen in recent years. Two went off the board in the second, three in the third, but then the run arguably came in the fourth, with five goalies taken between picks 96 and 112.

9. Commesso the second goalie taken

Speaking of the goalies, the answer to “who will the second goalie take be?” was answered in the middle of the second round, with the Chicago Blackhawks selecting USNTDP’s Drew Commesso with pick No. 46. He was followed at No. 52 with the selection of Finnish netminder Joel Blomqvist by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both goalies were in the conversation of the second-best in this class and were the only two taken in the second.

10. Drafted while on ice

With the draft going on while leagues in Europe and Russia are underway, there was an interesting occurrence at least twice on the second day of the draft, with two players on-ice for their selections. Hirvonen, taken No. 59 by the Maple Leafs, was actually playing in a game for Assat in the Liiga. They announced his selection in the game. Third-round selection of the Calgary Flames, Jake Boltmann, was on the ice for practice while his name was called. He was told mid-practice and was immediately swarmed by his teammates.

11. A run of NTDP

We’ve seen the USNTDP become a development leader in the hockey world, which was on full focus in the 2019 NHL Draft with 17 players drafted from the program, including eight in the first round. Jake Sanderson, fifth overall to the Ottawa Senators, was the lone first rounder, but the second round saw five more taken, including a run of four straight from picks No. 44 to 47. Tyler Kleven, Brock Faber, Commesso, and Luke Tuch all came off the board in a row, giving the USNTDP six top-50 picks. They eventually had 13 total selections.

12. Sweden sets record

Sweden set a record in the 2020 NHL Draft, coming away with the most Swedes taken in a single draft with 32. This was headlined by Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz as the two first rounders, both coming in the top-seven picks. The previous mark was 30 back in 2018, showing that Swedish Hockey is still very much on the rise.

13. Red Wings like their Swedes

Helping Sweden hit their all-time draft record was the Detroit Red Wings, who started off their draft by taking three Swedish players. After taking Raymond fourth overall, the took two more Swedes in the second round in defender William Wallinder and center Theodor Niederbach. It’s safe to say that the Red Wings have faith in the development of Swedish hockey players.

14. Switzerland has no players taken

One country that took a step back in 2020 was Switzerland, having no players taken in the draft at all. That’s the first time that’s happened since back in 2009. Frankly, it was a little surprising that there were no Swiss players taken, with Noah Delemont, Simon Knak, and dual-citizen Theo Rochette all looking like draft picks heading into the draft. With some promising Swiss players eligible for 2021, we could see a bounce-back for Switzerland.

15. Ian Moore first high schooler

Drafting players out of American high schools is always a bit of a risk, due to the fact that for the majority, you haven’t seen them against the level of competition that other draft-eligibles have. This year, defender Ian Moore was the first high schooler taken, selected by the Anaheim Ducks No. 67 in the third round. While Moore is a promising player, seeing him off the board first was surprising with Blake Biondi and Wyatt Kaiser receiving high praise throughout the year. But you never truly know how NHL team’s draft boards look.

16. Mid-season trip overseas wasn’t enough

Two of the biggest fallers in the 2020 NHL Draft were Jan Mysak and Martin Chromiak. The two prospects both started the 2019-20 season playing professionally overseas, with Mysak in the Czech Republic and Chromiak in Slovakia. Mid-season, they both transferred to the OHL looking to boost their draft stock and immediately impressed in their new league. Despite Mysak being ranked as a first rounder and Chromiak in the first or second in the public sphere, Mysak fell to No. 48 in the second round and Chromiak even further, to No. 128 in the fifth round. Chromiak especially is surprising with his lengthy tumble, but it appears NHL teams didn’t see enough from them in their brief OHL stints.

17. Family matters

As we always see in the NHL Draft, there were numerous family ties in the selections. 29 players taken in the draft have had fathers, uncles, brothers, and cousins in play the NHL or be closely tied to the league, such as Brendan Brisson’s father, NHL agent Pat Brisson. Two later picks in the draft are especially close to home. First, the Boston Bruins selection Mason Langenbrunner, whose father Jamie was an NHLer and more importantly, is the director of player development for the Bruins. Second, the Detroit Red Wings picking Kienan Draper, whose father Kris is a Red Wings legend, winning four Stanley Cups with Detroit and currently serving as the director of amateur scouting for the Red Wings.

18. Predators bet on Luke

Well, three of them actually. The Nashville Predators drafted Luke Evangelista, Luke Prokop, and Luke Reid on Wednesday, making for a potential need for nicknames in the future. Broadcasters and journalists will be happy to refer to these players by their last names moving forward to keep the confusion to a minimum.

19. Lots of talent undrafted

As we see with every NHL Draft, there are numerous players that went undrafted in 2020 that have great talent and will likely be names to watch for the 2021 NHL Draft. Of these players, Rochette, James Hardie, Brady Burns, Jacob Dion, Samuel Hlavaj, Juuso Maenpaa, Hayden Fowler, Oliver Suni, Ruben Rafkin, and Victor Mancini will all be overagers to watch for the next draft.

20. When will these prospects join the NHL camps

Typically when the NHL Draft is over, we look forward to seeing these players in action in NHL rookie camps and potentially selection camps. In 2020, we don’t know when we’ll see these players on the ice with their new teams let alone when the 2020-21 NHL season will begin. These players enter the NHL system in a strange time and, just like the fans, will have to wait and see when they can get their first skate with their new teams.

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