The 2020 NHL Entry Draft, originally scheduled for June 26–27, 2020, has been postponed due to COVID-19 but below we discuss the top five prospects on every team’s radar.
Lafreniere…And Then the Rest
1. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
The NHL Draft is completely up in the air and rumors persist that the league is pushing the idea of moving the date up, not back, which would mean that there would have to be a whole new set of rules for how the draft order is set which will see those adversely effected complaining the loudest.
But regardless of which team gets the No. 1 selection, there is little doubt that we will hear Alexis Lafreniere’s name called first. The 18-year-old superstar is the captain of Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was awarded Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 with 42 goals and a total of 80 points in 60 regular-season games.
The following two seasons Lafreniere racked up 105 points in 2018-2019 and then 112 points last season in only 52 games. He is the Joe Burrow of the NHL draft only he might be considered even more of a can’t-miss prospect than the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. He’s been compared to Sidney Crosby but at 6’1, 192 pounds, he is lankier than the 5’11”, 200 pound, Sid the Kid, yet boasts many of the same attributes. He’s a surefire lock to be included in your NHL picks as the first player selected overall.
2. Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
Byfield is a year younger and not nearly as polished as the sublime Alexis Lafreniere but at 6’4” and over 215 pounds he is much bigger and stronger in the corners. But Byfield has deceptively soft hands for a big man and has been compared to the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin.
Byfield is flattered by the comparisons and stated, “I’ll definitely watch as (many) Pittsburgh games as possible just to see what he does on the ice and how he plays,” he said. “He’s a big 200-foot center, and just (the) amazing offensive ability he has and just how he plays is unbelievable. I’ll definitely watch him quite a bit and try and mold my game a little bit after him.” Many of the best online sportsbooks are dealing NHL odds on the draft and Byfield is one of the favorites to be the second player chosen.
3. Tim Stutzle, LW, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
The 18-year-old product of Viersen, Germany was set to go the NCAA route where he was going to suit up for the University of New Hampshire. However, a last-minute change of heart had him opting for a three-year contract with Adler Mannheim in June of 2019. In his rookie campaign in Germany’s top league he was awarded the DEL Rookie of the Year Award as a 17-year-old playing against men several years older and more physically mature.
Stutzle is among the best skaters in this year’s draft and can absolutely fly but he needs to add muscle and be a bit more selfish with the puck as he often looks to pass before he shoots. A work in progress but Stutzle has the chops to become a bigtime scorer in years to come.
4. Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
The 18-year-old Toronto native is far more equipped for an up-tempo style of hockey than a big, bruising, blueliner who knocks forwards senseless and clears the crease. At 5’11” and 170 pounds Drysdale resembles much more of a slick winger than a defenseman but his transition game is exceptional and he would be a huge asset to any power-play unit once he fills out and becomes more complete defensively. As of this moment, Drysdale is the top defenseman in the draft and should be NHL ready within two years.
5. Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)
Another lanky forward with room to grow is the Saginaw Spirits Cole Perfetti. The 5’11” native of Whitby, Ontario racked up 37 goals and 74 assists for 111 points in 61 games and finished second in OHL scoring this season. Perfetti is a sharpshooter but needs to improve his overall speed, although his agility with the puck is outstanding. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of Perfetti’s game is his willingness to battle in the corners with bigger men and his workmanlike approach to getting back on defense. He should be a fully mature center or winger at the next level within three years.