September 11, 2020

Building the 2020 NHL Draft’s best prospect

Not every prospect is perfect.

Every hockey player has their strengths and weaknesses. Even the best players in the game have some weaknesses, but their strengths help to lessen their impact.

But if you could build a player taking key areas of strength from one player’s game you’d have a player with absolutely no weakness.

So we did.

Various players bring different tools to their game, leading FCHockey’s scouts to partake in a fun exercise where they create the perfect player based on seven traits: skating, puckhandling, playmaking, shot, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, and compete.

But there’s a catch.

Adding a wrinkle to the equation is the fact that the group is only able to name one player from each major scouting region (Western Canada, Ontario, Eastern Canada, United States, Sweden, Finland, and Russia).

That led to some discussion and some tough decisions.

Here’s what FCHockey’s scouts decided on to build the ‘perfect’ prospect:

Skating – Jake Sanderson, D, USNTDP (United States)

Sanderson, No. 12 in FCHockey’s Final ranking for the 2020 draft, is a smooth skater with a strong stride. He can stop and turn on a dime and work his edges with the best in the draft. His fluid hips and top speed allow him to beat players to the spot or help close the gap on defenders. He’s the type of skater that can keep opponents wondering how they can beat him. Sanderson can transition up the ice offensively with ease, too. (Ray Napientek)

Playmaking – Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

It’s hard to just pick one thing from Byfield, ranked No. 2, but his playmaking is some of the most elite in the draft. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound pivot has plenty of positive traits to draw from, but his vision around the net and ability to execute plays that seem impossible are second to none in the class. (Dylan Galloway)

Puckhandling – Rodion Amirov, LW, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia)

Amirov, No. 14, is extremely hungry for the puck and wants it on his stick all the time. His strong puckhandling skills are definitely one of his big assets and make him a dangerous forward. Often the puck seems to magically follow his stick, and he makes carrying the puck, even under pressure situations, look easy. Amirov also maintains a nice stride with the puck on his stick and is hard to stop once he has taken on speed. His skills with the puck in combination with his speed makes him often successfully enters the zone with speed from the outside taking it into the danger zone. (Dennis Schellenberg)

Shot – Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens IF (Sweden)

Holtz, No. 6, is one of the best pure goal scorers in this draft class. He’s just so good around the net and finding those openings. He has total accuracy and velocity in his shot, and is able to pull the trigger without requiring the time and space most of his peers need to fire off a deadly shot. He has all the tools to develop into a 40-plus goal scorer at the NHL level. (Dennis Schellenberg)

Offensive Awareness – Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

It’s hard to nail him down to just one aspect of his game to include in the exercise, but Lafreniere’s offensive zone awareness is the best in the entire draft. His ability to make highlight reel plays as both the playmaker and shooter is enough, but it’s how smart the top-ranked prospect for the 2020 draft is with every aspect of his positioning, speed, physicality and so much more that makes Lafreniere the easy pick here. (Dylan Galloway)

Defensive Awareness – Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Finland)

As a very complete player Lundell, No. 8, could quite easily been the choice for most of the categories here being a sort of Frankenstein player in his own. But what distinguishes him from the pack compared to pretty much any other forward in the 2020 draft class is his defensive awareness. Lundell is rarely out of position and cuts passes a lot in his games. He is also a very adept backchecker and it hasn’t been only one or two times that Lundell has performed Datsyuk’s signature stick lift from behind and turned defense to offense. (Miika Arponen)

Compete – Seth Jarvis, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

When it comes to having a motor that never quits, Jarvis is arguably at the top of this draft class. He plays at a very high tempo on a consistent shift-by-shift basis, which allows him to catch opponents off guard and generate scoring chances at ease. Jarvis, No. 11, is competitive as hell both with and without the puck, so it no longer comes as a surprise when he wins puck battles against bigger and stronger competition. As an old saying goes, ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.’ That’s Jarvis in a nutshell. (Derek Neumeier)

FCHockey’s ‘Frankenstein’ Player:

Skating: Jake Sanderson
Puckhandling: Rodion Amirov
Playmaking: Quinton Byfield
Shot: Alexander Holtz
Offensive Awareness: Alexis Lafreniere
Defensive Awareness: Anton Lundell
Compete: Seth Jarvis

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