#1 - New York Rangers - Alexis Lafrenière
This pick was a no-brainer, and the Rangers walk away with a franchise star on the wing. Lafrenière wasn’t a two-time CHL Player of the Year by mistake.
#2 - Los Angeles Kings - Quinton Byfield
It seems it was just smoke that the Kings could go elsewhere with their pick, and they likely made the right choice. Byfield isn’t quite NHL-ready, but he’ll grow into a dominant power forward who can replace Anze Kopitar down the middle.
#3 - Ottawa Senators (via SJS) - Tim Stützle
Wherever the Kings went, it would be hard for Ottawa to mess this pick up. Stützle should have just as excellent a career as Byfield, whether it’s at center or wing.
#4 - Detroit Red Wings - Lucas Raymond
Raymond may not be as elite a shooter as Alexander Holtz, but he’s just as dynamic a playmaker and may be better at carving into the high-danger areas. Detroit did well here.
#5 - Ottawa Senators - Jake Sanderson
Sanderson is undoubtedly a top-15 player—maybe a top-10 player—but this felt like a reach. I don’t think he was the best defender on the board (and would’ve gone forward here), but Ottawa seems set he’ll pan out into a top-four defender.
#6 - Anaheim Ducks - Jamie Drysdale
I’m high on Drysdale and thought he should’ve gone ahead of Sanderson, but with Rossi and Holtz still on the board, I’m surprised Anaheim stuck to their guns. Regardless, Drysdale should be a No. 1 defender in the NHL.
#7 - New Jersey Devils - Alexander Holtz
With both defenders off the board, New Jersey had the opportunity to find wingers to play with Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Luckily, they came away with the best shooter in the draft class.
#8 - Buffalo Sabres - Jack Quinn
I can’t knock on Quinn too much, because he might make me eat my words not too long from now. Despite scoring 50+ goals last year, I had him at 16 in my final ranking. He’s an excellent goal-scorer but picking him over Rossi seems like a mistake.
#9 - Minnesota Wild - Marco Rossi
I couldn’t have guessed Rossi would drop this far, but the Wild lucked out. Rossi should excel with his cerebral playing nature and work ethic.
#10 - Winnipeg Jets - Cole Perfetti
I’m not as high on Perfetti as others, but this is a good value pick at No. 10. I don’t think he projects into the top-line play-driver some think, though.
#11 - Nashville Predators - Yaroslav Askarov
It’s not the pick I wanted, but you can’t be upset with a potential franchise goalie. There’s an inherent risk to this pick, and it stings that Lundell was available, but Nashville could have a home run here.
#12 - Florida Panthers - Anton Lundell
I anticipated Lundell might slip from the top-10, and Florida collected an almost sure bet for a top-six NHL center. One the most intelligent players in this class, Lundell is already commanding play against men in Finland.
#13 - Carolina Hurricanes (via TOR) - Seth Jarvis
Jarvis will fit well into Carolina’s forward core and was likely the best player available, but this is where the first round drops into a separate tier.
#14 - Edmonton Oilers - Dylan Holloway
I’ve long though Holloway was well overhyped. He was good as a freshman at Wisconsin, but his strengths still didn’t wow me. I think this is a big reach for Edmonton.
#15 - Toronto Maple Leafs (via PIT) - Rodion Amirov
I love Amirov’s game, and he projects well into a middle-six role. He has the benefit of playing professional minutes in the KHL during uncertain times too.
#16 - Montreal Canadiens - Kaiden Guhle
I had Guhle as a second-round prospect in my final ranking (35). I can see what teams may like in him: strong skater, good in transition, physical but not a fault; but I think Montreal went for a “safe” pick here.
#17 - Chicago Blackhawks - Lukas Reichel
I love Reichel and think he may be the first-rounder who proves everyone wrong this year. In a vacuum this is an excellent pick, but he likely could’ve been available later on.
#18 - New Jersey Devils (via ARI) - Dawson Mercer
What a draft the Devils are having. Mercer was a top-ten pick for me, so snagging him at 18 (and having Alexander Holtz) should make any Devils fan happy.
#19 - New York Rangers (via CGY) - Braden Schneider
There’s one every year and this time it was Schneider—a textbook “safe” pick. Schneider likely makes the NHL, but trading up for him with better defenders on the board seems like a poor decision.
#20 - New Jersey Devils (via VAN) - Shakir Mukhamadullin
This is where things got wild. Mukhamadullin was ranked 77 in my final list, but I’m so tantalized by the audacity of this selection. He’s as raw as they come, but imagine if this works out for the Devils.
#21 - Columbus Blue Jackets - Yegor Chinakhov
This is where things got even wilder. Overager Chinakhov this high seems absurd, but he’s been excellent in the KHL this season. He almost certainly would’ve been available much later on, though.
#22 - Washington Capitals (via CAR, NYR & CGY) - Hendrix Lapierre
Injuries forced him to slip more than he would have in any other year, but Lapierre could be an excellent steal for Washington.
#23 - Philadelphia Flyers - Tyson Foerster
Foerster can score goals and that can’t be denied, but I’ve got serious concerns about his skating mechanics. I anticipated he would slip into round one, and maybe Philadelphia looks smart if those pitfalls can be fixed.
#24 - Calgary Flames (via WSH) - Connor Zary
I’m not as high on Zary as most, but Calgary trading back twice and still landing him is impressive. He does so many things on both sides of the puck well.
#25 - Colorado Avalanche - Justin Barron
I like Barron and heard Colorado was high on him. But he was so hard to evaluate with his time away from the lineup. I think he plays a more NHL-ready game than Guhle or Schneider, though.
#26 - St. Louis Blues - Jake Neighbours
With every viewing, I tried so hard to find something I consistently liked about Neighbours’s game and consistently struggled. I ranked him 74 but anticipated hearing his name in round one. I can’t make sense of this pick, but am unsure other teams would’ve been smarter and passed up on him too.
#27 - Anaheim Ducks (via BOS) - Jacob Perreault
I’m a bit surprised that Perreault fell this far, but round one has been the Wild West. There are legitimate flags in Perreault’s games (especially in his own end), but at 27, I think the Ducks picked up great value.
#28 - Ottawa Senators (via NYI) - Ridly Greig
With three picks in round one, it’s hard to be upset at Ottawa for this pick. I had Greig at 44 in my final ranking and love his intelligent game off the puck. He’s an underrated shooter, too, but there was better talent available.
#29 - Vegas Golden Knights - Brendan Brisson
Although I had Brisson ranked 34, I’m glad someone snagged him in round one. He was one of the biggest risers in my eyes this year and has the potential to be a solid middle-six NHL player with a long career.
#30 - Dallas Stars - Mavrik Bourque
Were it not for some wild reaches in the middle of round one, Bourque should’ve been taken much higher. Great puck recovery skills, which isn’t something you see for a ton of players at this age. Great pick for Dallas.
#31 - San Jose Sharks (via TBL) - Ozzy Weisblatt
I’m a big fan of Weisblatt’s game, but I think he was solidly a second-round prospect. He excels in transition and has a creative touch to his puck skills.