With the NHL season wrapping up earlier this week with a Tampa Bay Lightning win, we quickly shift things over to the draft. Outside of the First Overall pick to the Rangers, a lot is up in the air this year. This will be the first part of our NHL Entry Draft mini series that will lead up to a Live Stream during the Draft with Marco D’Amico!
For this Mock Draft I will be ignoring the possibility of Draft Day trades, but I will still mention when I think they are applicable. Be forewarned this is a pretty long read. Now it’s time!
1. New York Rangers – Alexis Lafrenière, LW, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
The unanimous consensus slides into his rightful spot. Lafrenière will fit in perfectly with a team that is loaded with young talent. His arrival will make a few decisions in the top six forwards difficult, but this team has an abundance of talent and a very large Stanley Cup Window ahead of them. Cap management will be their only potential downfall.
2. Los Angeles Kings – Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
The Kings are one of the few teams that can turn this draft on it’s head. They have been in a rebuild for a couple of years and own the best prospect pool in the NHL. They are loaded everywhere but in nets which is why I would love to see them take Askarov. Everyone would lose their minds but the combination of size and skill is why Byfield is too good to pass on. The 6’4 machine also happens to be one of the youngest player in this draft (just under a month away from being 2021 eligible)
A Center is probably the last thing they need, but this would give them: Byfield, Turcotte, Madden, Thomas and Anderson-Dolan. There is no such thing as too much of a good thing.
3. Ottawa Senators (SJS) – Tim Stutzle, C, Manheim (DEL)
Do not overcomplicate this one, it is Tim Stutzle. Stutzle just finished his first season of Professional hockey which is why his point totals may not stand out like the other prospects. Make no mistake, he was much more dominant that his numbers suggest. Having only seen a couple of Stutzle’s games, he controls the pace of play similar to Matthew Barzal, he is a smooth skater that makes everything look easy. Once Stutzle became more comfortable and confident playing with men, it was apparent that his game elevated to another level. This pattern should transfer over to the NHL in a similar fashion.
4. Detroit Red Wings – Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw Spirit (WHL)
Just like last year, the Red Wings are the team that goes a little off the board. The connections between Perfetti and the Red Wings run far too deep, and quite frankly, Perfetti is an Yzerman guy. Not that I really know what that is, but Stevey Y has a knack for getting the right guy at the right time and my gut tells me that, that is Perfetti in the 4th. He is a line driving forward that could help the Red Wings establish an additional scoring line with guys like Veleno, Zadina or Svechnikov. The Red Wings desperately needs one of the latter two to step up and Perfetti is the perfect catalyst for that.
5. Ottawa Senators – Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
I don’t for a second believe that the Senators will take Askarov for two reasons:
1. Pierre Dorion has put in too much effort and too many hours to let the dumbest owner in sports make the pick
2. Eugene Melnyk should know by now that every decision he makes is the wrong one so he should shut up
Not that Askarov would be a terrible pick, but this is simply put, a smoke screen to build trade value for his pick. I think he knows that every GM is targeting the Devils pick.
Back to Rossi, he may be the most complete player in this draft at the present moment. He is one of (it not) the oldest player’s in this draft which is why some GMs believe limit his potential. He was the highest scoring player in the CHL this past season playing for the 67’s. Ottawa is a very proud city, and they will be very happy to see Rossi move from TD Place to the Canadien Tire Centre. The 1-2 punch of Stutzle and Rossi could pay dividends for years to come.
6. Anaheim Ducks – Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie Otters (OHL)
Anaheim could use a little bit of everything except for goaltending. Given the way the top five played out, they go with a foundational Defenseman that they can build their D-core around for the next decade. Drysdale really started to turn heads after his play at the World Juniors as a 17 year old. He has the rare combination of elite offensive skill while still being a responsible defender. He could find himself in the NHL on a full time basis as early as next year. I would be shocked to not see him in Europe this season where he can develop his game playing against men.
7. New Jersey Devils – Lucas Raymond, LW/RW, Frolunda (SHL)
The Devils need to acquire as much talent as they can in the First Round of the draft which is why they go best player available. The difference in skill between Raymond and Holtz is very small. He is a well rounded playmaker that is defensively responsible. That is a broad statement that encompasses a lot, but in just his second full season in the SHL he is already playing top six minutes in Frolunda and on their second Power Play (PP) unit (even assisting on Norlinder’s first SHL goal). He is a player that coaches can depend on, and a player that can be thrown on the ice in any situation with confidence.
8. Buffalo Sabres – Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SHL)
This may be one of the best fits in terms of Landing Spots vs Team Needs. The top need for the Sabres this off-season is to do everything and anything to make Jack Eichel happy. Step 1, acquire the best pure shooter in the draft. Holtz plays a much more North/South game, and is a threat with the puck on his stick from anywhere in the OZ. His game still needs to be refined, but he could follow in the footsteps of Olofsson, making his mark with this team on the PP as well as scoring in bunches along side Mr. Eichel.
9. Minnesota Wild – Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)
If you have been bouncing around the internet you know that this is the point where Mock Drafts take on their own personalities. Lundell is probably one of the most underrated guys in this draft, simply because he does not play the same offensive style as the players ahead of him. Lundell is your stereotypical full 200 foot Finnish prospect. What better way to move on from Koivu than drafting a player in the same mold with a higher offensive ceiling. From simply a statistical point of view, Lundell finished the season with 10-18-28 in 44 games compared to Kotkaniemi who finished with 10-19-29 in 57 games played.
The Wild are desperate for talent down the middle to compliment their young wingers that include 2020-21 Calder winner Kaprizov, Boldy, Kunin and Fiala. I know that a lot of mocks have the Wild taking Askarov but the Wild have Kaapo Kahkonen waiting in the wings who is coming off a 2.07 GAA and a .927 SV% season in the AHL.
10. Winnipeg Jets – Seth Jarvis, C/RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
You will be hard pressed to find a Mock that does not have the Jets taking Sanderson but I do not believe he is their immediate answer. The Jets need defenseman now, and Sanderson is not ready to make that jump into the role they would need from him. This would put him in a pipeline that includes Heinola, Samberg, Niku and Stanley. I believe that Sanderson will be better than all of them (except maybe Heinola) in time but not next season.
I expect them to move Laine for a package that includes a 2C (or 2W) and D, which would leave a hole in their top six that could be perfectly filled by Jarvis. Jarvis is also capable of playing down the middle which will give the team a bit more roster flexibility as they continue to push for a cup now and not the future. Jarvis had a meteoric rise in the second half of the season which worries some scouts but his offensive upside can’t be ignored.
11. Nashville Predators – Dawson Mercer, C/LW, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
Nashville needs elite goal scoring, they can no longer rely on this scoring by committee. It worked once and they have continued to milk it for everything they could get but enough is enough now. The Preds take a Center with elite level vision and creativity, hoping to get the most out of their wingers. Mercer is still a bit more on the raw side, and isn’t the biggest player, but he is defensively responsible and is more than capable of handling his own as he continues to grow into his frame.
Taking Mercer this early could be a bit of a reach, but the entire middle tier of this draft is a crap shot so get your guy. For Nashville I think that Mercer fits their target mold of a well rounded player but he brings a little more offensive upside than they have right now. I also think they pass on Sanderson because they have a proven track record of developing and maximizing defenseman with later round picks.
12. Florida Panthers – Jake Sanderson, D, USNDTP (USHL)
I wouldn’t put it past the Panthers to take Askarov. Jokes aside the Panthers get exactly what they need, defensive help. Sanderson is a gift that falls into their laps. It was clear last season that the Panthers have no problem scoring goals, they just can’t seem to stop them from going in. Sanderson comes into a system with very little competition and a D-core that boasts a lot of veteran leadership, including former high picks to help him acclimate to the NHL. With the team they have, he will not be asked to do a lot offensively to start his career which should allow him to properly develop into a top four NHL defenseman.
13. Carolina Hurricanes – Iaroslav Askarov, G, SKA (KHL/VHL)
If there are no trades and Askarov falls to the Hurricanes, those Jerks will be unbearable because this is easily the best fit of any draft pick in the First Round. They have two goalies under contract for next season but it is clear that the Canes do not see them as the future. Askarov would probably play one more season in the KHL unless Carolina really wants to take a chance which is within the realm of possibilities. Regardless he will be in the NHL sooner rather than later and if the Hurricanes manage to draft him, they are in a position to make noise for a long time.
Should Askarov get drafted by another team, look for the Hurricanes to draft a Winger as they desperately need depth at the position. Their prospect pool at Wing currently includes Domenik Bokk as they have graduated a lot of their talent into roster players over the past couple of seasons.
14. Edmonton Oilers – Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (KHL/VHL/MHL)
The first real ‘reach’ of the draft. After a recent push to address their back end, the Oilers go out and get this most offensively skilled player left. Just missing out on Askarov will hurt, but complimenting McDavid and Draisaitl with another skilled player is the perfect remedy. Amirov is all over the map in Mocks, mainly because it is hard to fully judge his body of work from last season. He bounced around in three seperate leagues in Russia, dominating when playing against players his own age, but struggling in the Pro league. Amirov has an elite skill level with some of the softest hands that are matched by very few players in this draft, but Scouts are concerned about his perceived lack of strength. With McDavid or Draisaitl, Amirov’s skill level should shine through as he physical matures.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs – Connor Zary, C, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
I don’t think there is any team in more of a need for an immediate impact forward than the Leafs. Their fan base has gone through years of losing for a rebuilt that has yet to make it past the First Round. Losing is no longer an option. I expect them to make a trade to make room to sign Pietrangelo. I think it will Tavares because he was a curveball they did not expect, but it is one you swing for the fences on every single time.
Zary was a skating highlight in the WHL. He has the ability to make plays out of nothing, he can beat defenders in any numbers of ways, and he finds passing lanes that you did not know existed. He is a very well rounded players that makes everything look easy and one of the most NHL ready players in this draft. His skating is the only knock against his game, and like Rossi, Scouts worry that his age limits his ceiling. The Leafs desperately need Entry Level Contracts on the books, drafting Zary will help them do that.
As a side note, there have been rumours that the Leafs want to move on from Freddy Andersen (the scapegoat). Keep an eye on the New Jersey Devils, they have been rumoured to be trying to move back in the draft for some time now. Shanahan and Dubas are aggressive on the trade front so if they want Askarov they will pay the price to get him. Not to mention this would drastically help the Leafs with their Cap crunch.
WITH THE 16TH PICK IN THE 2020 NHL ENTRY DRAFT THE MONTREAL CANADIENS SELECT…..
You will have to tune in Tuesday morning for this one! I will drop the article nice and early to preview the rest of the First Round that is set for 4:00 pm ET on Tuesday. With that being said, if you have been following, here are the ‘Top Prospect’ left for the Habs to chose between.
1. Dylan Holloway, University of Wisconsin (BIG 10 / NCAA)
2. Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
3. Mavrik Bourque, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
4. Ridley Greig, Brandon What Kings (WHL)
5. Branden Brisson, Chicago Steel (USHL)
1. Jack Quinn, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
2. Jacob Perreault, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
3. Lukas Reichel, Berlin (DEL)
4. Noel Gunler, Lulea (SHL)
5. Tyson Foerster, Barrie Colts (OHL)
1. Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
2. Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
3. William Wallinder, MODO (Allsvenskan)
4. Justin Barron, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
5. Jérémie Poirier, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Sorry, told you it would be long but thank you for reading this. Have a great weekend!