So, uh, we still don’t know which team will (almost certainly) pick Alexis Lafreniere first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. On the bright side, the zany draft lottery did determine picks two through eight of the 2020 NHL Draft. With that in mind, let’s ponder which players will represent the top eight picks by way of PHT’s mock draft.
Actually, perhaps you should consider this a mock draft of mock drafts. Maybe call it a consensus of consensuses?
PHT compiled the top 10 rankings from 11 different mock drafts/prospect rankings/big boards to put together a mock draft medley for the 2020 NHL Draft. If that doesn’t provide enough of a “consensus of consensuses,” consider how some of those mock drafts were compiled.
As a prominent example, TSN’s Bob McKenzie surveyed 10 scouts and presented that consensus. So this is a riddle wrapped in an enigma cooked with bacon, but for mock drafts for the 2020 NHL Draft. Or something like that.
For more insight on the process behind this mock draft for the 2020 NHL Draft, check the bottom of this post. You’ll find links to each of those 11 lists, too. What value!
Note: These rankings were compiled before the draft lottery, so yes, this leans toward “best player available” logic.
Give credit to Cam Robinson of Dobber Hockey for being the one brave soul who didn’t rank Lafreniere first. Before you gather torches and pitchforks, realize that Robinson merely ranked the winger second, and praised Lafreniere effusively.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman projects Lafreniere to be a “foundational player.” Others waffle between calling him a franchise player or, more modestly, a first-line winger. Maybe right off the bat.
So, will Lafreniere be special, or just really good? A team in the Qualifying Round will be glad to find out.
(Pauses for inevitable tanking jokes.)
Once you move beyond Lafreniere, Byfield stands tallest among top 2020 NHL Draft prospects — literally and figuratively. Robinson ranked Byfield ahead of Lafreniere, believing that Byfield has potential to eventually surpass the probable top pick.
Now, not everyone ranks Byfield second among prospects. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler wonders (sub required) if some dipping opinions boil down to overexposure. Wheeler praised many aspects of Byfield’s game:
He’s huge, his skating has become enough of a strength that he can really push the pace through the middle of the ice, he’s got excellent puck skill for a player his size and he’s surprisingly creative for his size. He’s also one of the younger players in the draft, so he’s got time to figure out the rest.
At times, NHL teams overvalue Huge Hockey Humans.
That said, it’s different when that Huge Hockey Human boasts discernible hockey skill. If Byfield puts it together, who knows what his ceiling can be? He also plays center, so Byfield could conceivably make the Kings really tough down the middle alongside (an admittedly aging but still effective) Anze Kopitar.
(Or someone else will get a potentially fantastic center.)
Let’s move from size to speed.
In the eyes of a healthy number of scouts, Stutzle is the second most enticing prospect.
“If there’s someone in this draft who could go by Lafreniere in the years to come, it’s this kid,” An anonymous NHL scout told TSN’s Bob McKenzie about Stutzle. “It’s because of the skating.”
It’s possible that Stutzle could go as high as second, yet there are some experts who barely squeeze the speedy German into the top seven. We’ll have to see how the Senators view the speedster. For all we know, Ottawa might try something bold with its two high first-rounders.
Largely believed to be the best defenseman in the 2020 NHL Draft, Drysdale should draw plenty of attention. Experts praise Drysdale’s skating — not just speed, but strong edge work — as one of his best qualities. Experts diverge, however, on how much of an impact Drysdale can make.
The Red Wings selected Moritz Seider during the 2019 NHL Draft, so maybe they’d prefer a forward. But … honestly, they need a bit of everything after a profoundly disastrous season. The Red Wings simply need to pick who they believe is the best player available.
From Cole Caufield to Alex DeBrincat, it feels like each draft sports at least one polarizing, undersized forward prospect. Rossi looks to fit that bill for the 2020 NHL Draft. The 5-foot-9 forward inspires a range of rankings, with some picking Rossi as high as third.
Count Rossi as one of those smaller forwards you might describe as feisty. Even so, Pronman and others are concerned that Rossi might not be speedy relative to his size.
Will we see another smaller, skillful player slip? That hinges on how the Senators and other teams (above/below them?) view Rossi’s potential. Ottawa might end up only being willing to (slightly) gamble on one of Stutzle or Rossi, also. We’ll see.
(Also, the gap between Drysdale and Rossi was small, even though they’re quite different players.)
More than one expert ranked Raymond as high as fourth. Among those, Robinson praises Raymond as “an explosive winger who is equally dangerous with his shot or pass” who boasts rare “escapability.”
The Ducks need all the offensive punch they can get, so Raymond — or another forward — would make total sense.
Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino describes Perfetti as “a magician in the offensive zone with his ability to change pace and find teammates.”
That said, Perfetti inspires a range of rankings, as some are concerned about his skating (at least for a 5-foot-11 player slightly on the smaller side).
Personally, I believe Perfetti should get bumped up a letter grade for having a tremendous name.
McKenzie made an interesting comparison between Holtz and fellow Swedish prospect Lucas Raymond:
Holtz, who plays both the left and right sides, has one of the best shots in the draft and is among the best natural goal-scorers. If Raymond sometimes gets questioned for being on the perimeter, Holtz gets high marks for getting to the inside and playing a harder game.
The Devils have locked down some high-end forward talent, but Holtz might be the sniper who really boosts a playmaker like, say, Jack Hughes. That said, the Devils also really need defense (and lots of other things), so it may come down to whether or not they believe Holtz is a potential 40-goal scorer (as Robinson believes).
(As a side note … there were some close results from this experiment, but Perfetti and Holtz finished in a dead heat.)
To reiterate, PHT collected the top 10 rankings from 11 mock drafts/draft boards. Every list came out in April at the earliest, while several were published this week.
You can see the results in this clunky spreadsheet. Here are the staffs and/or writers who produced such lists (note: some articles may require subscriptions):