Ah, it's that time of year! At long last, here are Brad Krysko's top 31 ranked 2020 NHL Draft prospects:
1. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
At this point I should not need to explain why Lafreniere is #1; simply dominant at almost every aspect of the game. He sees things other players simply do not and uses his ridiculous skillset to make plays happen.
2. Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
Byfield is so intriguing because of the rare toolkit he possesses. He is a gifted skater, puck handler, passer, and shooter, all in a 6’4” 214 pound body. I do have some concerns about his pace of play and very ordinary international performances but given that he is one of the youngest players in the draft, I am not super concerned.
3. Tim Stutzle, LW, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
The DEL may not be as strong as the KHL, SHL, or Liiga, but it is still impressive how dominant Stutzle was as a 17 year old playing against men. He has high end skill, terrific vision, plays with incredible pace, and may be the best skater in this draft. Putting all that together means he is extremely dangerous off the cycle and the rush.
4. Lucas Raymond, RW/LW, Frolunda (SHL)
Raymond has simply dominated nearly every international level tournament he has played in, sometimes even as a double-underager. He is a very gifted playmaker and finisher who plays with a high level of creativity. He put up respectable numbers playing in a limited role for a strong Frolunda team, but his underlying analytics were very impressive.
5. Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
Rossi may only stand 5’9” but you would not know it from watching him. He plays a solid two-way game with unreal offensive upside. He thinks the game at a special level and has a great toolkit. His skating leaves a little to be desired and I would like him to play with a touch more pace but overall there is not much to dislike about his game.
6. Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
This draft is unique in the sense that when you rank all of the defensemen available, there is Jamie Drysdale, a chasm, and then everyone else. A perfect modern day NHL defenseman, Drysdale skates extremely well, is a fantastic passer, thinks the game well at both ends of the ice, and is remarkably consistent. I do not believe he has the offensive upside of a Makar or Hughes, or the defense acumen of a Heiskenen or Seider, but he is not far off on either end which makes him very intriguing.
7. Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (SHL)
Holtz is an extremely gifted shooter (likely the best in this draft) with a very well-rounded offensive game to compliment that shot. Much like Raymond, he put up respectable but unspectacular numbers in the SHL but dominated most international tournaments he was in.
8. Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA St. Petersberg (VHL)
Let the debate begin! You can’t draft goalies too high because they are made of voodoo and pixie dust and to an extent I would agree with that, however Askarov is such a special talent that I would argue he transcends the normal mindset with goalies. He has had numerous absolutely out-of-his mind performances in international competitions, sometimes as a double under-ager. Couple that with his remarkable consistency in the Russian junior leagues and you have a possible franchise goalie in the making.
9. Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)
Lundell is going to be a fascinating case study one day. A player who produces at a remarkable rate for his age in Finland’s top league and has a consistent international track record, yet in all my viewings never ‘wows’ me with skill. That is not to say he is not gifted (he is), but to the eye test he would not hold up as a top 10 pick. He is a player who simply just gets it, he thinks the game at a high level and has enough skill to make the plays he wants to make.
10. Cole Perfetti, C/LW, Saginaw (OHL)
As a 16 year old rookie in the OHL he put 37 goals and 37 assists, cementing him as a sure-fire sniper who may emerge as the top goal scorer of the 2002 crop. Then, for an encore in his 17 year old season, he once again scored 37 goals but this time he doubled his assist output (74 if you are counting). At this point I think we can safely say Perfetti is a legitimate threat in all areas of offense. I do have concerns about his pace coupled with his size but not to the point I would bet against him.
11. Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL)
Jack will be another fascinating case study in a few years: he did not play AAA hockey until his minor midget season (his OHL draft year), he did not make the OHL in a his first season after being drafted, he put up unspectacular numbers in his first full OHL season, and then he exploded to the tune of 52 goals and 37 assists in his actual NHL draft year. If he were not a late 2001 birthday someone would have had an absolute steal last draft, if he were drafted at all. Quinn possesses an absolutely lethal shot that he can unleash from anywhere in the offensive zone. He is not very quick but does know how to get around the offensive zone well enough.
12. Connor Zary, C, Kamploops (WHL)
Connor is the type of player I love. He is extremely talented but also extremely aggressive, he does not sit back and wait for plays to develop - he just makes it happen. I have small concerns about his skating, but the rest of his game more than makes up for it.
13. Seth Jarvis, RW, Portland (WHL)
Jarvis put up cartoonish numbers in the WHL this year. He is undersized but extremely skilled, thinks the game well, and plays at a very high pace. I love his upside but do have some concerns about whether or not his skill is ‘high end’ enough to translate to the NHL.
14. Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin (NCAA)
Dylan has the benefit of playing in the NCAA as a first time draft eligible prospect due to his late 2001 birthday, however this has created many debates amongst scouts who were underwhelmed with his good but not great stats with Wisconsin. I am still a believer though, as he is a tremendous skater and very aggressive player, although I do wish he was more effective off the cycle.
15. Jake Sanderson, D, USNTDP (USHL)
We finally have our second defenseman on the board and arguably our most divisive first round prospect. Sanderson is your prototypical “jack of all trades, master of none” type defenseman. I would argue he is well above-average defensively but only slightly above-average offensively, although he did show great strides as the season progressed. It is a shame this pandemic hit when it did because I feel he would have climbed even higher had he been given more runway to continue his progression.
16. Rodion Amirov, LW, UFA (KHL)
A dominant player in the Russian junior leagues but was a step behind in the KHL - overall still posted an impressive season. A very strong player off the rush with a terrific shot, a good playmaker, and okay off the cycle.
17. Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
Arguably the most dynamic offensive defenseman in this draft, it is no fluke that he scored 20 goals this season in the Q. Needs to work on his defensive game to make it in the NHL.
18. Dawson Mercer, C/RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Mercer is one of the most well-rounded forwards in this draft who plays with great attention to detail. I like his aggressiveness and pace but have some questions as to how high his skill level actually is. Dawson is a fairly safe pick as he can play just about any role asked of him.
19. John-Jason Peterka, LW, Munchen (DEL)
J.J. possesses great hockey sense and plays at a very high pace. His north-south skating is excellent although his lateral movement could use some work. There are some consistency issues and he tends to force plays from time to time but overall has a great grasp on the game.
20. Lukas Reichel, LW, Berlin (DEL)
The third of the “big three” Germans in this draft, Reichel often gets overlooked because of the better showings at the WJC from Peterka and Stutzle. In addition to being a tremendous skater, Lukas has a very high offensive IQ and high amount of skill. There are concerns about his defensive game and nearly complete lack of physicality in his play, but with the way the NHL is trending that is not a super high concern for me.
21. Emil Andrae, D, HV71 (SuperElit)
Stop me if you have heard this before: small defenseman with high offensive upside and questions about his size. Well, here we are again. Emil is a very gifted passer, his neutral zone transitions are excellent, and unlike most 5’9 defenders he actually plays a physical style.
22. Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Bourque is a small forward who uses a very creative offensive mind and high-end skillset to dominate the offensive zone. He led his QMJHL team in points by a wide margin despite being only 17 years old for most of the season. He isn’t the fastest player in the world, but his IQ makes up for that in spades.
23. Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL)
A strong two-way defenseman with NHL size and skating. He has limited abilities offensively, but I would not call it a weakness. His defensive IQ is well above-average and his tools compliment his game nicely.
24. Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
If it were not for concussion issues that ended his season in November, he would likely a consensus top 15 pick. However, concussions are no joke, so here we are. He is a remarkable playmaker with high end skill. I still have some questions about his pace translating to the next level as he does like to slow the game down to his speed, but he is such a smart player I am betting he will adapt well enough.
25. Jan Mysak, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
A shoot-first winger with a terrific release, quick hands, and a better than expected two-way game. I don’t love his playmaking ability, but I wouldn’t classify it as poor either. I would like him to be a touch quicker, but he moves quickly enough to get his dangerous shot off.
26. Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (SHL)
There are no questions about Gunler’s talent but there are a lot of questions about his consistency and character. I hate talking about character issues since I have no idea what is hearsay and what isn’t, but the consistency issues are very real and a big concern. If he played every game at his top level, we are likely looking at a top 10-15 pick - but he doesn’t so Gunler slots in at 26 for me.
27. Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)
Perreault has an incredible shot, terrific hands, but is just an okay skater and makes some questionable decisions.
28. Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
A well-rounded defender who was named captain of the Soo Greyhounds at just 17 years old. He has a terrific mind for all aspects of the game but does not possess the high-end toolkit like the other defenders already listed.
29. Zion Nybeck, RW/LW, HV71 (SuperElit)
Nybeck absolutely dominated the Swedish Junior leagues this season with his incredible skillset and high-end offensive creativity. He plays with tenacity and pace but there is no way around the fact he is only 5’8”. I honestly feel guilty ranking him this low for how skilled he is.
30. William Wallinder, D, Modo (SuperElit)
A 6’4 defenseman who skates well, plays with pace, and has a good offensive IQ. He is still raw and a lot of his tools need some refining, but if all works out, he could be a good top 4 defenseman in the NHL.
31. Tyson Foerster, C/RW, Barrie (OHL)
Foerster’s biggest strength is his absolutely lethal shot - he can score from almost anywhere in the offensive zone. He is a better playmaker than he gets credit for as well. I don’t love the pace at which he plays, and his skating could definitely use some work which makes me wonder how effective he could be at 5v5. However, I do believe he could be a powerplay specialist who plays limited 5v5 minutes at worst.
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