Top prospects eligible for 2020 NHL Draft
Lafreniere heads list, Perfetti moving up according to NHL.com’s Mike Morreale
Mike Morreale has covered the NHL Draft and NHL prospects for the past 10 years. Here is his second installment of the season on the top 31 prospects for the 2020 NHL Draft, which will take place at Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26-27.
Alexis Lafreniere remains No. 1 in the NHL.com ranking for December of the top 31 prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.
The left wing, who plays for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, leads the league with 42 assists and 59 points in 28 games. He is one of five QMJHL players to be given an A rating on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary Players to Watch List for November.
The 18-year-old is expected to play a big role for Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. He had one goal in five games for his country at the 2019 WJC.
“The thing that most impresses me is his command of the puck; he wants the puck and wants to have an impact in the game more so than any player I’ve seen this year,” Hockey Canada head scout Brad McEwen told the NHL Draft Class podcast. “He can be a go-to guy and that’s exciting for us. We expect him to be a key offensive guy for us when [the WJC] gets going on December 26.”
Lafreniere could be the third player from the QMJHL chosen No. 1 in the NHL Draft in the past eight years. Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (2013; Halifax) and New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier (2017; Halifax) are the others. Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby was the last Rimouski player to be selected No. 1 (2005).
NHL.com’s look at the top 31 prospects (Number in parenthesis is ranking on Oct. 6):
1. (1) Alexis Lafreniere (6-foot-1, 196 pounds), F, Rimouski (QMJHL) — An incredible playmaker with great vision, accurate shot and appetite for wins. He leads the QMJHL with 25 power-play points (one goal, 24 assists).
2. (2) Quinton Byfield (6-4, 215), F, Sudbury (OHL) — The left-handed center is a powerful skater with breakaway speed and has an exceptional skill set. He ranks fourth in the Ontario Hockey League with 50 points (20 goals, 30 assists) in 28 games.
3. (3) Alexander Holtz (5-11, 192), F, Djurgarden (SWE) — A goal-scorer with a great selection of shots, the right wing plays a tough, intelligent game. He has seven points (five goals, two assists), three game-winning goals and 34 shots on goal while averaging 13:35 in ice time in 19 games in the Swedish Hockey League.
4. (5) Cole Perfetti (5-10, 177), F, Saginaw (OHL) — A skilled forward with high hockey IQ and competitiveness, Perfetti ranks ninth in the OHL with 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 26 games.
5. (4) Lucas Raymond (5-11, 170), F, Frolunda (SWE) — An explosive skater with soft hands and fantastic hockey IQ, the right wing has five points (three goals, two assists) and a plus-7 rating in 16 games in the Swedish Hockey League.
6. (6) Yaroslav Askarov (6-3, 176), G, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (RUS) — An intimidating presence in net with great athleticism and a quick glove. Askarov is 10-1-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 14 games in the Supreme Hockey League.
7. (9) Marco Rossi (5-9, 183), F, Ottawa (OHL) — The Austria-born left-handed shot is tough in his own end and possesses a high hockey IQ and good hands. He ranks fifth in the OHL with 49 points (16 goals, 33 assists) and is 59.1 percent on face-offs (257-for-435).
8. (7) Jamie Drysdale (5-11, 175), D, Erie (OHL) — Drysdale might just be the best defenseman available in the 2020 NHL Draft, capable of driving play with his skating and elite hockey sense. He ranks third among OHL defensemen with 30 points (five goals, 25 assists) in 27 games.
9. (15) Tim Stutzle (6-1, 185), F, Mannheim (DEL) — A hard-working center with exceptional skating, puck skills and vision. He has 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 23 games playing in Germany.
10. (10) Hendrix Lapierre (5-11, 179), F, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) — The center, who has 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in 19 games, offers great hockey sense, competitiveness and playmaking qualities. Lapierre, currently out indefinitely because of an upper-body injury, may have the highest ceiling of any player projected to go in the first round.
11. (8) Anton Lundell (6-1, 185), F, HIFK (FIN) — A two-way center, who has an upper-body injury and will miss the next 3-5 weeks, has 12 points (six goals, six assists) and 74 shots on goal in 20 games in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league.
12. (12) Dylan Holloway (6-0, 203), F, Wisconsin (NCAA) — A complete center who has a great skill set, hands, competitiveness and drive to create offense has seven points (three goals, four assists) and 36 shots on goal in 15 games as a freshman.
13. (11) Justin Barron (6-1, 195), D, Halifax (QMJHL) — The 18-year-old right-hand shot sustained a blood clot and is out indefinitely, but when healthy is an excellent skater capable of making the good first pass. He has 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 27 games.
14. (16) Braden Schneider (6-2, 202), D, Brandon (WHL) — A hard-skating, two-way right-handed shot with great competitiveness and hockey IQ, who has 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) in 28 games.
15. (NR) Dawson Mercer (6-0, 181), F, Drummondville (QMJHL) — Plays a smart, honest and heads-up game, finishes his checks and is effective on the power play and penalty kill. He has 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 23 games.
16. (13) Kaiden Guhle (6-2, 188), D, Prince Albert (WHL) — A two-way defenseman with good skating skills, a hard shot and imposing size.
17. (17) Jeremie Poirier (6-0, 199), D, Saint John (QMJHL) — An offensive defenseman with good puck skills and hockey sense.
18. (20) Justin Sourdif (5-11, 173), F, Vancouver (WHL) — A two-way forward with good vision and competitiveness.
19. (18) Jake Sanderson (6-1, 186), D, USA U-18 (NTDP) — A mobile, puck-moving left-handed shot with sound skating and work ethic has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 23 games. Committed to the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.
20. (24) Jacob Perreault (5-11, 200), F, Sarnia (OHL) — The versatile right wing, who is the son of former NHL forward Yanic Perreault, possesses one of the best shots of this draft class.
21. (19) Jean-Luc Foudy (5-11, 174), F, Windsor (OHL) — A center who has the speed, puck control and playmaking ability to excel at the next level.
22. (23) Antonio Stranges (5-10, 172), F, London (OHL) — A left wing with fantastic edgework, unique skills and good offensive upside.
23. (21) Rodion Amirov (6-0, 167), F, Ufa 2 (RUS) — Skilled left wing with good speed and hockey IQ who can play in all situations.
24. (NR) Jack Quinn (6-0, 179), F, Ottawa (OHL) — The right wing has risen the ranks because of his versatility in playing all three forward positions and knack for producing offense.
25. (NR) Connor Zary (6-0, 177), F, Kamloops (WHL) — A two-way player capable of contributing at both ends of the ice, Zary ranks fourth in the WHL with 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) and first with eight power-play goals and 130 shots on goal in 26 games.
26. (NR) William Wallinder (6-4, 191), D, MoDo Jr. (SWE) — The left-handed shot is at his best in the defensive zone but his offensive game is improving since he likes to join the rush and can get the puck to the net. Wallinder has 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 24 games in the SuperElit, Sweden’s junior league.
27. (14) William Cuylle (6-2, 204), F, Windsor (OHL) — A power left wing who is relentless in getting to the tough areas of the ice with high hockey IQ and a strong shot.
28. (25) Ty Smilanic (6-1, 177), F, USA U-18 (NTDP) — The left-handed center offers elite speed and has a solid work ethic. He will attend Quinnipiac University in 2020-21.
29. (27) Daemon Hunt (6-0, 198), D, Moose Jaw (WHL) — A two-way defenseman who plays a good team game, is smart, physical and works hard.
30. (NR) Luke Tuch (6-1, 203), F, USA U-18 (NTDP) — The younger brother of Vegas Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch plays a physical, power-forward game with smarts, skills and competitiveness.
31. (31) Mavrik Bourque (5-10, 168), F, Shawinigan (QMJHL) — The right-handed center is a good passer, possesses a good shot and excels defensively.