FC’s 2020 NHL Draft Mock
It’s here. It’s finally here.
After an extended wait, the 2020 NHL Draft is within sight, and it proves to be one of the most interesting, most unpredictable affairs we’ve seen in recent memory.
So trying to mock it out would be a fool’s errand, no?
Maybe, but that won’t stop the scouts and staff of FCHockey from giving it a go, trying to peg all 31 picks in the first round of the 2020 draft, to set a benchmark for how we see the activities on Tuesday unfolding. We’ve gathered our scouts together to punch out the picks, from Alexis Lafreniere and the obvious No. 1 pick of the New York Rangers, right down to the San Jose Sharks selecting Lukas Reichel to close out the opening round.
So who are the 29 in between?
Glad you asked.
Lafreniere has been the unanimous consensus top pick from pillar to post, end to end, whatever to whatever. The expectation was that he’d be the top pick long before entering his draft year. He capped his season with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) to earn his second of back-to-back Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year honors – the first player to earn that distinction since Sidney Crosby in 2004 and 2005. It’s a no-brainer for the Rangers.
Byfield’s combination of size, skill and skating made this pick an easy one. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, his size is only going to get bigger and stronger with his maturity and work ethic. He brings the power forward element that can dominate in the corners and the front of the net. Add in his skill and speed and he is the all-around player that the Kings can add to the top of their forward depth chart. With his quick hands and reach he can play in tight spaces and use his frame to protect the puck. A good shot makes him a complete offensive force.
Rossi is an extremely skilled, but well-rounded center who could play for the club more immediately than some other prospects at this range. It’s the maturity in combination with work ethic and skill that is so intriguing about him. While he’s by no means a perfect player, his ability to make the right decision in almost every situation he’s placed in, both offensively and defensively, makes him highly effective. His slight stature may scare off some teams from projecting his ability to bring the same effectiveness to the NHL level, but his hand-eye coordination, brain, and low center of gravity all make him far more projectable to reach his ceiling than other vertically challenged prospects.
Stutzle will provide the Red Wings with some much-needed young star power and the potential to make an impact in the NHL sooner rather than later. For a team in desperate need of an upgrade down the middle, Stutzle will fill that void. There’s a good chance he starts as a winger but many scouts feel as though the center position is in his future. Although Detroit still has a lot of work to do, having Stutzle and Dylan Larkin centering their top six will go a long way towards powering up their retool.
Ottawa has had a lot of success with previous selections from Sweden and continues to tap into its deep connection to the country by taking Raymond. Stocking up on high-end forward talent in this draft is a no-brainer for Ottawa, who is sorely lacking in top-line level talent on its roster. Raymond is a smooth-skating, skilled puck handler who is capable of utilizing his mobility to open up the ice for himself and teammates to make high-skill plays. His edgework stands out among his skills and makes him a menace to pin down. His skill is just too tantalizing to pass up.
After assembling a strong, young forward core and choosing forwards with most of their top picks in recent drafts, Anaheim could decide to shore up the future of their blue line with Drysdale, who could be a true No. 1 defender in the NHL. While he’s a little on the smaller side, he is capable of logging big minutes in all situations, similar to how Miro Heiskanen is utilized by the Dallas Stars.
Some may not be as bullish on the idea of Perfetti to the Devils as they are on some of the other top prospects but in reality, having an offensive, do-it-all forward may be just the perfect fit. Equally a dynamic scorer and puck mover, it’s the raw speed and awkwardness to his skating stride that takes some time to get used to, although his mobility and ability to be involved in the middle of play isn’t hindered. Perfetti is a top-tier thinker who is elite at finding room and executing on-seam plays by always being in a spot where the puck is going to be and giving off false information that breaks down defensive systems so he can be afforded time and space to make a play when he gets that puck.
The very polished Lundell is arguably one of the most NHL-ready prospects in this class. He also just so happens to fill a dire need at center and, while transitioning to second-line center duties is no easy task in the NHL, Lundell possesses the defensive instincts to make the jump. Lundell also boasts some offensive potential with a pro-level shot that is an underrated part of his game, to go along with his good skating ability. He may not be as flashy as some names in the top-10 but he is poised to be one of the most consistent players from this class with very low risk.
Holtz is a tenacious Swedish forward who is widely considered to be the best pure goal scorer available in this year’s draft. The calling card of Holtz’s offensive game is his world-class shot, which is nearly unrivaled among this class of draft-eligible skaters. Holtz generates power behind the puck with his quick release and can pick corners with the best of them, which in turn should translate to a high-end offensive package at the NHL level when paired with a capable playmaker. Holtz also brings high-end quickness and intensity while on the ice, allowing him close space on pucks quickly and find his way into scoring areas.
Sanderson is incredible in his own end, bringing some of the highest defensive awareness that this draft has to offer. But he’s also an excellent skater and shows that in his transition game, shifting through and around opponents to make a play. He knows how to make space for himself in every area of the ice and could very well be a top-pairing defender at the NHL level. The Jets have a strong forward group right now and adding Sanderson could help solidify the back end, already loaded with quality prospects, for the foreseeable future.
From the outside, this pick may seem like a reach. But Foerster creates offense through smart passing, positioning, and he sees the ice fairly well. He’s adept at both finishing and setting up the play, and is aggressive when hunting the puck. With some improvements in his stride, Foerster could really become a consistent offensive threat at the next level.
Jarvis is a smart, agile, adaptable winger who at this point in the draft has the highest upside due to his ability to produce in traffic areas. His hands are soft. While he might not blast a one-timer or send off high-velocity wrist shots, he will wait out goaltenders, find holes through his accuracy, and elevate picks in tight. Swing big and trust your development program.
Askarov is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects available early in this draft. He doesn’t have much professional experience, but Askarov has the frame and athleticism to dream on, consistently performs against his own peers, and boasts one of the strongest international resumes for a draft-eligible goaltender in quite some time. The organizational depth and supporting cast to give Askarov enough time to reach his sky-high potential.
Quinn, who scored 52 goals this season, is an older prospect for this draft class and could be NHL-ready sooner than most, which also makes him attractive to a team seeking forward depth. There are some questions in his game, but the prospect of him playing on a loaded forward core in Edmonton could effectively alleviate any concerns, as he’d fit perfectly into a high-octane offense.
A highly-skilled two-way forward, Amirov plays a simple, but effective game. He is excellent at moving the puck into the offensive zone and generating a scoring chance as soon as possible. The Russian winger is very quick on his edges and always stays moving, with or without the puck, to find the best route to the net. He has some of the best hands in the draft and a quick release that can fool goaltenders. Amirov is also a workhouse in his own zone, consistently trying to cut off passing lanes and pry the puck away from the opposition so he can start a rush.
Mercer is a well-rounded offensive forward who possesses outstanding puckhandling abilities and the creativity to get to high-danger areas and drive play. Good tenacity on the puck and has a strong nose for the net. He improved his patience and vision in the offensive end this year, showing more willingness to play a versatile role and proving he has defensive chops at either the wing or down the middle. Solid strength for his size and he can be a disruptor on the defensive end when he’s engaged. Mercer has the potential to fill a top-six, complementary finishing role in the very near future.
Holloway brings a skill set that projects him as a potential power forward. His size and skating potential will make him a handful as he continues to develop. As a playmaker, he sees the game at a high level. His shot is sneaky quick. Holloway could slide in as a potential all-situation player. His ceiling may not be as high as some picked around him but his skill set will help Chicago in their rebuild to win games.
Zary may be an older player in the class but his trajectory into an impact, all-situations forward is an enticing grab. While working on becoming a stronger, competent skater, Zary’s thought process and methodical game allow him to play chess while others are playing checkers. He may not always jump off the page with flashy maneuvers but his game lies in the details. Zary is so effective inside dangerous areas thanks to his spacing and offensive timing. His skillset naturally seems like a fit.
Gunler is a high-potential goalscorer, and he’s able to get shots off from multiple body positions and consistently redirect pucks on net from high-danger scoring areas. It’s this ability to get off quality shots in a small amount of time that makes his game as a natural sniper of particular interest. He can find open ice quickly in the offensive end and his release is both heavy and fast. Gunler would fit in as, potentially, a high-end RW prospect.
Andrae is a player that is of a new-age mould with his strongest asset being his brain. Andrae shows high IQ and transition abilities, presenting an ability to play with speed and use deceptive elements with his body and skating to be a fourth man up in the attack. He’s so smooth and precise with the puck bit also has some punch on his shot and consistently is roaming in the offensive zone when he finds an opening. For a smaller, offensive-minded, rover-type D, his ability to angle opponents and gap up on the rush was well done. His check attachment and details will need to be learned but he has the upside to be elite and a core piece.
Bourque’s creativity with the puck and excellent shooting ability make him a tantalizing addition to any prospect pool. While he lacks a bit of separation speed, the overall smoothness of his movement and his ability to create movement on the fly makes him an excellent offensive threat. His creativity with the puck makes him very hard to track in the offensive zone and allows him to create open shooting and passing lanes for himself.
Past injury concerns have Lapierre as one of the biggest wildcards in the opening round of the draft, but his talent and ability will outweigh wherever he happens to be selected. Lapierre is a great skater whose playmaking ability is among the best available. He is skilled with the puck, displaying good patience and puck protection skills to help him take advantage of his high-end hockey IQ. The only question that remains is in regards to his durability.
Perreault’s primary asset is putting the puck in the back of the net. He’s a true sniper with one of the best shots in this draft class. Additionally, he’s far from a one-trick pony with the ability to score from almost anywhere on the ice. As expected, there are some flaws in his game defensively. Still, he is a valuable asset that has the potential to make a significant impact at the NHL level down the road.
Mysak is an energetic striker who can impress with his speed, agility and agility. His shot is high-class with a lightning release and he can change angle through his unique puck work. His hands are fast and controlled, both in tight spaces and in space, allowing him to open up passes and throws. While not the biggest attacker, he is good at finding paths to the network through traffic. He can change direction quickly and will make opposing teams pay if given space thanks to his quick hands and dexterous puck skills. He brings a ton of energy and an intense level of competition to the game.
Peterka is solid on his feet and has great hands, making him one of the toughest players to face in the draft. While he’s not of the ilk of Holtz or Quinn, he has a quick release and is able to get a lot of power behind his shot. He always finds himself in good positions to make plays, on the cycle, and in transition.
Schneider, a two-way defender, is one of the most mature, dependable players in the draft. He’s that safe selection that teams can sometimes reach for, so a fall into the later stages of the first round makes him an attractive option. He’s excellent in his own end, showing excellent positioning, gap control, and awareness. He then excels in the transition game and in his playmaking.
Guhle is a blueliner with size, mobility, intensity and a nasty physical side who focuses on the defensive coverage for his pairing. While his offensive upside doesn’t necessarily match with some of the draft’s other top defensemen, his other tools make him an extremely valued option on the blue line in the first round of the draft.
At 6-foot-3, Grans has the size many teams are looking for from their defenders, but he brings with that size excellent mobility and a great offensive mindset. His smarts allow Grans to be an effective playmaker from the point and also allow him to quickly shut down plays in his own end.
Khustnudinov is bound to be a fan favourite for years to come thanks to one of the best motors in the draft. He’s a highly competitive kid who plays all 200 feet of the rink, poised and skilled with the puck on his stick showing an ability to manipulate space by driving the net or widening the ice. He’s got an active stick in the defensive zone and applies tremendous back pressure, angling opponents out of danger areas and cutting off hands and remaining above the puck to support his teammates. While he doesn’t have a great finishing ability at this point, he gets to tough areas and can play under pressure. He’s a piece who can fit in anywhere up or down the roster with the upside to contribute.
Wallinder, while not at all what the Stars need in their prospect pool right now, is such a tantalizing player. He is an enormous defender who is also a great skater and has a pair of hands that can keep up with his feet most of the time. He’s a real roamer and loves to activate himself, for better and for worse. Wallinder is a risky, long-term project because his hockey sense and decision-making are currently big issues, but if those are fixed through development he can become an impactful player on their hands.
Reichel possesses as he has the makings of a top-six forward provided he continues to develop. He played against men in DEL this past season and while his lack of physical strength put him at a disadvantage at times, he still engaged in board battles. What will help Reichel grow his game is his ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone and make smart decisions with the puck. The Sharks will need to be a bit patient with him but based on their current status, should not feel the need to rush his development.