2020 NHL Entry Draft April Ranking
My first installment in ranking prospects for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
With so much in our world on pause, I’ve had time to catch up on my viewings of a number of prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. If you recall, I released one final ranking for 2019 last June that included 93 players total alongside other draft content. This year, I will be releasing monthly rankings to give you better insight into my scouting process.
This list, for April, will start with my top 31 players and will gradually expand round-by-round over the coming months. In that case, you may seem some players below shift spots in May or fall out of the first round altogether, and I will provide updated notes each month as appropriate.
Before we get to the ranking, I’m obligated to provide two important disclaimers. First, this is not a mock draft. This is a ranking of players in order of how successful I think they can become as NHL players given all things are equal. Second, I’ve been able to catch at least two viewings of each player list below and, in many cases, several more. That said, I’ll continue to watch film as we approach the draft to better mold my understanding of each prospect’s talents.
2020 NHL Entry Draft Ranking - Top 31
|1||Alexis Lafreniere||Rimouski Oceanic||QMJHL||2001||LW||Can create a play from nothing with little support and will capitalize on every error or misstep... Has the speed to outskate most opponents and the awareness to out-think them when needed... Is a great shooter and even better playmaker; the definitive top prospect in this class|
|2||Quinton Byfield||Sudbury Wolves||OHL||2002||C||Impressive puck control in tight situations; can drag and stickhandle out of crowded areas with ease... His zone exit and entry success at top speed is an elite-level talent... Combines his puck skills with an often immovable frame and a good accelerating step|
|3||Tim Stutzle||Adler Mannheim||DEL||2002||F||One of the best skaters in this class, Stutzle was dominant as a 17-year old scoring nearly a point per game... Everything he does is at top speed: crossovers, zone entries, turns, passes, set moves on the power play, etc... Remarkably creative and uses a full arsenal of skating talent to maneuver and find space for his effective shot|
|4||Marco Rossi||Ottawa 67's||OHL||2001||C||A great skater with a good accelerating gear and stickhandling skills at top speed... Rossi is a cerebral passer who can connect from nearly any spot on the ice with minimal hiccups... An excellent scorer off the rush who uses lateral quickness and excellent edge control to beat defenders|
|5||Lucas Raymond||Frolunda HC||SHL||2002||F||Raymond is masterful with the puck on his stick, cradling it at absurd speeds to freeze pinching defenders... He's got one of the best, most accurate wrist shots in this class and can launch it even under strong duress... Doesn't limit himself in how he uses his stick to creatively set up plays and capitalize on rush chances|
|6||Alexander Holtz||Djurgardens IF||SHL||2002||RW||If Holtz has one thing on Raymond, it's shooting talent; he can pick corners that you've never even noticed... Has an innate ability to shift his positioning or open up to even the most inaccurate of passes or set-ups... Can be very effective at creating turnovers but doesn't utilize his crossover step or speed enough off the puck|
|7||Jamie Drysdale||Erie Otters||OHL||2002||D||Drysdale is the best defender in his class by a mile and has puck control skills that rival some of the top forwards above... His skating stride comes with a choppy crossover step that I don't love, but his edge control is a work of art... He is a transition machine using good protection habits, decent passing & often mohawk steps or backwards crossovers|
|8||Cole Perfetti||Saginaw Spirit||OHL||2002||C||Perfetti's showing at the Hlinka-Gretzky in August opened my eyes a lot more to a skillset equivalent to Byfield in some regards... Has a great shot but is also adept at finishing tight around the net with a beautiful set of hands... Is intentional with his moves and zone entries but keeps his head down too much but still pulls off impressive set-up passes|
|9||Anton Lundell||HIFK||Liiga||2001||F||Extremely effective and positionally sound at both ends of the ice with a knack for great puck spport and finding open space... Lundell is a good passer who maps the ice very well and can be key to maintaining possession and a thorough cycle... He isn't an explosive skater or a flashy scorer and his ability to attack open ice could get confused for floating too much|
|10||Dawson Mercer||Drummondville Voltigeurs||QMJHL||2001||RW||An elite-level player with the puck on the stick who can out-maneuver nearly any defender with a unique set of hands... May get caught being pushed off the puck more than others in this ranking but has above-average intelligence in all three zones... There are legitimate concerns about his skating but he can power through defenders when intentional with his entries|
|11||Yaroslav Askarov||SKA-Neva St. Petersburg||VHL||2002||G||The runaway top prospect in net in this class, Askarov plays with very solid on-ice coverage from post to post... Tracks the puck well through traffic and in high-danger situations and is properly reactive with his glove and blocker... He has an effective cross-crease shuffle but sometimes it seems like he's not getting enough out of each push|
|12||Noel Gunler||Lulea HF||SHL||2001||W||Has an excellent wrist shot and, more importantly, gives no favors for goalies by being intentionally deceptive with his stick... His skating stride is defined by an elongated crossover step that he derives good power from but not excessive speed... Is good at finding passing lanes but can hold onto the puck too long and isn't the best pcuk handler in tight spots|
|13||Seth Jarvis||Portland Winterhawks||WHL||2002||RW||One of the highest risers of the year as he wasn't near my top-31 in October; Jarvis did it all for Portland this season... He skates with a well-defined and technically sound stride that's fast but not overly explosive... Determined anytime he has the puck on this stick to move north and toward the net either through or around defenders|
|14||Jacob Perreault||Sarnia Sting||OHL||2002||C||I'm likely higher on Perreault than most, but he's such an effective player at each level of the offsensive zone... Perreault is a good shooter with an elusive launch and creative with his passes to navigate the most minimal of openings or lanes... He'll need to get better at his transition from zone entry to high-danger areas to score as much at the next level|
|15||Jeremie Poirier||Saint John Sea Dogs||QMJHL||2002||D||I'm almost certain I'll shift these defenders late in the first before the draft but Poirier is #2 off the board for me right now... He may be just as good a puck handler as Drysdale is and has a beautiful crossover that gives him great lateral quickness... Isn't the fastest to return to good defensive position but has a nice touch with the puck when he can create a turnover|
|16||Jake Sanderson||U.S. NTDP||USHL||2002||D||A different style defender than Poirier, Sanderson is effective a pinning plays to the outside and blocking passing or skating lanes... Sanderson is a good, not great skater, who can cover large areas well while maintaining good gap and stick placement... His transition skating and pivots can be burned sometimes and he won't lead the rush as often as Drysdale or Poirier|
|17||Mavrik Bourque||Shawinigan Cataractes||QMJHL||2002||C||Is an effective shooter both in tight and from higher in the slot or zone; packs a good one-timer too... He may not wow many with his speed but his smooth crossover steps and how he transfers leg weight leads to a good stride... I'm most impressed by his puck recovery skills and ability to bouce off defenders who gap up or play the body|
|19||Rodion Amirov||Salavat Yulaev Ufa||KHL||2001||LW||Isn't always an overly explosive skater but has a well-developed skating stride that doesn't waste movement or energy... His forechecking ability is very good as he strikes a meaningful balance between his stick positioning and angle of attack... Is a good scorer and playmaker but finds open time and space better than most to capitalize on chances|
|18||Jack Quinn||Ottawa 67's||OHL||2001||RW||Some may criticize being so low on a 50-goal scorer as a Kaliyev-like mistake but Quinn is old for this class playing on a stacked team... Quinn capitilizes on his finishing ability both when crossing into the slot and on rebounds or in open ice for tips or tap-ins... I think he's a fine skater but relies on quick steps and doesn't skate to shoot but glides into his releases|
|20||Dylan Holloway||University of Wisconsin||NCAA||2001||F||Has the speed and north-south game to often be the first forward back disrupting an opponent's attempted zone entry... Controls the puck well at top speeds and has a good touch pass or stretch pass he can connect on in most scenarios... Utilizies an interesting half step to pump his skating stride and can transition well from takeaways without elite speed|
|21||Helge Grans||Malmo Redhawks J20||SuperElit||2002||D||A managers dream: big, good puck handler and a right-shot blueliner; Grans is a unique talent in this class... One of the best controlled transition players but can be prone to turnovers or silly pass attempts in the middle of the ice... Has a good shot but is very effective joining the rush as forward #3 or even crashing the net before pivoting back to the point|
|22||Roni Hirvonen||Assat||Liiga||2002||C||I'm a huge fan of Hirvonen's game that's built on creativity with the puck and astute decision-making in the offensive zone... He plays with a relentless drive but isn't rash to attack a clogged passing/shooting lane & has the skill to regroup before committing to a play... Can be an excellent asset in attacking the net off set plays or below the hashmarks but can shoot from a distance, too|
|23||Jan Mysak||Hamilton Bulldogs||OHL||2002||LW||It seems like a common theme as kids are developing their shooting talent better than ever, but Mysak is dynamite with his wrist shot off the rush... He's a quick skater but has a really extraneous skating motion at times that has to slow him down to an extent... His on-ice awareness is certainly more raw than some but it's just a matter of executing his play off the puck better|
|24||Emil Andrae||HV71 J20||SuperElit||2002||D||Andrae is a small defender with a quick stride, good lateral movements and the ability to out-maneuver wingers from the point... His passing seems inaccurate or rushed at times but that shouldn't be a permanent issue... Andrae has a good wrist shot that makes rebounds manageable but can really uncork a good one-timer from the circles, too|
|25||Connor Zary||Kamloops Blazers||WHL||2001||C||Zary has the puck skills to rival some other forwards higher in this list, but I'm concerned at how he steps out of moves with less quickness... I have little doubt Zary will be a solid pro hockey player but nothing blows me away in his skillset like others in this class... I do like how he processes the game on and off the puck; he's got a good sense of where his teammates/opponents are headed|
|26||Thomas Bordeleau||U.S. NTDP||USHL||2002||C||Bordeleau is a good shooter and has a great ability to adjust his shot intentions off the rush or out of turns to fool goalies... Is an elite-level cross-ice passer who can weave through various obstacles and pull defenders out of position before getting with a teammate... He can be a great pace player when entering the zone but sometime eases up into a glide and loses control of the play to disciplined defenders|
|27||Zion Nybeck||HV71 J20||SuperElit||2002||W||Nybeck possesses a great wrist shot that's accurate at beating goalies in lower weak spots and not always up high... I like how he turns into transition when exiting the zone but wish he would use other tools more (the wall, touch passes, etc.)... He's an excellent stop and start skater than can accelerate well out of dekes or being pushed out to the boards by defenders|
|28||Martin Chromiak||Kingston Frontenacs||OHL||2002||LW||Chromiak may be my reach pick as of now, but he's one of the youngest players in the class with skill and creativity in the offensive zone to burn... His hands and shot are well-developed and he isn't overly reliant on perimeter shooting; in fact, he can be a great low-slot player too... Sometimes can be caught thinking the game ahead of his feet which lack an elite-level gear|
|29||Hendrix Lapierre||Chicoutimi Sagueneens||QMJHL||2002||C||I wish I could rank Lapierre higher but a shortened season and concussion concerns are serious factors to consider ahead of the 2020 Entry Draft... Is one of the most effortless passers I've seen in some time; he hits every seam in transition, any moving target and can needle it through defenders... He's a powerful skater too who relies on strong edges to out-position defenders rather than always blow past them|
|30||John-Jason Peterka||EHC Munchen||DEL||2002||F||Peterka's puck protection skills stand out to me; he excels at using his stick and frame to provide two layers of protection from defenders... He's a good perimeter skater who can shift well around the zone to find shooting or passing lanes but can get held up attacking the slot at times... Does drive to the net well and finds good time and space for rebounds as he's often been without the necessary room to shoot at even-strength|
|31||William Wallinder||MODO Hockey J20||SuperElit||2002||D||Wallinder is a more raw talent who snuck into my top-31 with an impressive SuperElit season... Utilizes a good mix of an accurate wrist shot and hard slap shot to create offense from the point but can dart into the slot at times and attack the net... Much like Grans, he's a naturally good transition player but won't always joine the rush as quickly or exit the zone with possession himself|
In the coming weeks, I’ll be producing more individual draft profiles of these prospects and many others. If you’re curious for further notes on any of these players or want to know why a player fell outside of the top 31, I’m always happy to explain my process.