2020 NHL Draft Profiles: First Round Forwards

We continue our coverage of the 2020 NHL Draft with some of our favourite forwards to target later in the first round.

After profiling the top players in this year’s NHL Draft class, we’re turning to our attention to the other eleven players the Sens could potentially draft given their current pick selection.

Unlike the players ranked in the top ten, there’s less and less consensus as you go deeper into the draft class. Area scouts become more important, team preferences make themselves known, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of a class in terms of quality depth at specific positions become apparent.

While we could’ve done this exercise by trying to get into the heads of Trent Mann and co. to elicit who they might be thinking of drafting based on past trends, much like Peter Levi from Eye on the Sens used to do, we decided to carry on with our tradition of using this space to profile some of the players who are a) ranked in this range given where they are on public rankings, and b) some of our favourites. Hence, you’ll be getting a little bit of data, and a little bit of opinion throughout these profiles.

As always, if you have feedback on our format or improvements you’d like to see, please let us know in the comments! Let’s begin with four forwards who are ranked in the first-round for the Senators to consider with their potential third first-round pick from the New York Islanders.

Mavrik Bourque (C)

TeamLeagueHeightWeightExpected RangeNHL Rank
Shawinigan CataractesQMJHL5'10"165 lbs17 - 28#22 (NA)

Yeah, I know. The first player we’re covering in these profiles is a 5’10” forward who oozes skill. Last year I preached about the likes of Jakob Pelletier and Nick Robertson, and this year it’s Mavrik Bourque. While he may even fall out of the first round given the evaluation from NHL Central Scouting, you bet I’ll be hyping up Bourque all the way to draft day. He’s my guy and I’ll gladly preach that.

Bourque has quickly become one of my favourites for the same reason I love many of the forwards we covered in our series of individual profiles — he’s a dual-threat offensive player who plays an extremely smart game. His playmaking is arguably the most deceptive in the entire draft class, as he sees the ice extremely well to the point where he can manipulate defenders like they’re in the palm of his hand. He was the guy driving play on Shawinigan last year, and has the necessary tools to be the driver of his line going forward.

On top of that he’s also a fantastic goal-scorer. He’s smart in the subtle ways he manages his stick, making it tough for goalies to read when he’s about to fire a shot through opposition or make a crisp pass to the other side of the crease. He likes to shoot a lot and has had great success with it, and it’s only half the story with his offensive prowess. From Mitch Brown’s tracking data he ranks in the 99th percentile for expected goals and the 86th percentile for expected primary assists, among CHL/USDP forwards in his database.

Bourque is able to slow the game down and make everyone play the way he wants, which is an incredible feat for a player his age, but also his biggest detractor. He isn’t a quick skater who can blow by defenders, instead he uses his edges to get around the ice efficiently. The slower pace has led to concerns on he’ll manage at higher levels when he won’t have as much space. To date he’s succeeded off the basis of his vision and knowledge, so the question going forward is whether that will be enough, or whether he’ll have to diversify his game even further.

His 71 points in 49 games this past season puts him in line with players such as Timo Meier and Filip Zadina in their draft year — he could’ve scored even more had he not been sidelined with a wrist injury to end the season. He was extremely consistent at getting himself on the scoreboard, all while playing an average of 22 minutes per game. His size and speed may scare some teams away, but if the Sens are looking to take a swing on a really smart centreman with a high ceiling, Bourque could be their guy.


Further Reading

Sam Happi: Mavrik Bourque shift-by-shift video and scouting notes — February 1, 2020 (DraftLook Hockey)
Alexander Taxman: Prospect Report: Mavrik Bourque (Future Scope Hockey)
Mitch Brown: How Mavrik Bourque’s Gravitational Pull Makes him one of the 2020 NHL Draft’s Best Playmakers (EP Rinkside) ($)

Jan Mysak (LW)

TeamLeagueHeightWeightExpected RangeNHL Rank
Hamilton BulldogsOHL6'0"181 lbs13 - 30#28 (NA)

The top Czech player in this year’s draft, the June-born Myšàk oozes an offensive toolkit that’s been refined over years of being labeled as one of the top players of his age group. Myšàk owns the best points-per-game mark in the history of the Czech U16 league, played 31 games against men in the Czech Extraliga last season as a 16-year-old, and after scoring nine points in 26 games this year, he jumped over to the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs and put up 25 points in 22 games. Despite this scoring ability, Myšàk is one of the players that’s hardest to get a read on among this year’s first-round class. Colin’s consolidated rankings has him as high as 13th, and as low as 30th.

Here’s what we like about Myšàk’s game. With the puck, he’s poised, shows great anticipation, and is a dual-threat with his shooting and passing ability. He attacks the slot, has hands on the rush that allows him to make plays like this, and has a top gear that allows for separation. The fact that he was trusted to play pro minutes among men for the last two seasons hints to me that he’s a player who can win over the trust of his coaching staff, while his OHL performance being above a point-per-game on a weak Bulldogs team gives a glimpse into some potential upside in a top-six role. I’m also a fan of Myšàk’s aggressiveness on the penalty-kill, where he tenaciously forechecks and meddles with opposing attackers — often leading to shorthanded chances for his team.

What makes others sour on him? While he has good wheels, the skating aficionados point out his awkward stride, and wonder if it’d be able to bring him the same success when his time and space is limited. Others want to see some lateral movement from him on the offensive zone instead of his reliable straight-line game. Finally, despite what I said about his play against men meaning that he’s got a more pro-ready defensive game, some want him to be more engaged defensively on retrievals — applying his smarts in all three zones. The Czech Extraliga is a league arguably worse than Stützle’s DEL, and is hard to scout. I wonder how much of him playing there was an issue with him being ranked so low, and hence, why he decided to jump to Hamilton mid-way through his draft year.

If the Sens are opting to utilize their draft capital for players with the highest ceiling, as opposed to bonafide NHLers, Myšàk is an intriguing target. His top-six skill-set might still be available even if the team’s third first-round pick is in the 20s, and as a European import player, Myšàk could have many options for where he plays next season — allowing some flexibility in his development.


Further Reading

Scott Wheeler: Why Jan Mysak is one of the 2020 NHL Draft’s top forward prospects (The Athletic) ($)
Patrick Tallon: Player Profile: Jan Mysak (Recruit Scouting)

Jacob Perreault (C)

TeamLeagueHeightWeightExpected RangeNHL Rank
Sarnia StingOHL5'11"198 lbs18 - 31#17 (NA)

Purely in terms of his offensive ceiling, Jacob Perreault is closer to the draft’s elites than his rankings may portray. The son of former NHLer Yanic Perreault, Jacob scored 39 goals and 70 points in 57 games on a weak Sarnia Sting roster, with his goal-scoring instincts earning comparisons to Alexander Holtz and Jack Quinn, both of whom will almost certainly be off the board before the Sens’ third first round pick.

Plain and simple, Perreault’s shot is incredible, and is already at a high-end level for the NHL. He can seemingly score from anywhere in any position, whether it be a one-timer from the slot, a slap shot from the top of the circle or backhander in tight, he packs the lethal trio of power, accuracy and deception that strikes fear in opposing goaltenders. His ability to take over a power play can’t be understated.

He also has tremendous confidence with the puck on his stick, with his soft hands making for one of the CHL’s best highlight reels. He was Sarnia’s go-to player for all things zone transitions this season, especially being effective at end-to-end plays for which he ranked in the 97th percentile from Mitch Brown’s tracking data (called ‘dot line transitions’).

When it comes to Perreault’s skating, there isn’t much of a consensus from the scouting community, because he hasn’t shown a high degree of consistency. At times he’ll be buzzing all over the ice making chaos for opposing defenders, and other times he’ll seem a step or two behind everyone else. In testing done at the CHL Top Prospects Game he placed extremely high in the speed tests, so the firepower is definitely there, which we occasionally see in-game. But even though there were improvements as the season went along, his consistency is a concern that’s pegged him as a potential bust by some pundits.

This also applies to his defensive play. Sarnia was a complete mess in this regard all season, but Perreault was also part of the problem to the point where it outweighed all the positive results he was creating in the offensive zone. He has the smarts and even the physical ability to be effective in this manner, but at this point it likely projects him more as a winger going forward. It’s a far cry from the two-way game of his father, who fun fact, led the NHL in faceoff percentage for eight consecutive seasons.

Putting it all together, Perreault is one of the draft’s higher risk players, but the reward is a potential 30- or even 40-goal scoring forward in the NHL. He dominates the ice when he’s on his game, and in the mid-first round with numerous picks in this draft, it could be a swing worth taking for the Senators.


Further Reading

Mitchell Adamson: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Jacob Perreault (The Prospect Network)
Eric Dunay: 2020 NHL Entry Draft Profile: Jacob Perreault (On The Forecheck)
Will Scouch: 2020 Scouching Report #21 - Jacob Perreault (Video)

Lukas Reichel (LW)

TeamLeagueHeightWeightExpected RangeNHL Rank
Eisbären BerlinDEL6'0"172 lbs21 - 42#11 (Euro)

Of the three German-born forward prospects that could go in the first round, I felt like Lukas Reichel was getting the least buzz, so I decided to profile him here. While he doesn’t have the pizazz of Stützle or the raw shot volume of John-Jason Peterka, Reichel has a knack for putting the puck in high-danger areas of the ice in a meaningful, consistent way. That talent is based on his solid foundational tools and strong hockey sense, and I think those attributes will allow him to develop into a consistent middle-six NHLer.

The nephew of 830-game NHL veteran Robert Reichel, and cousin of Jets prospect Kristian Reichel, Lukas was coached by his father — German-born Martin Reichel — in the Rosenheim youth system before catching the attention of one of the DEL’s premier programs in Eisbären Berlin. Berlin had good reason to be interested. Reichel had finished top-10 in league scoring at the U14 level (10th), U15 level (3rd) and U16 level (3rd).

This past season, he had 24 points in 42 games, playing in a top-nine role on a team that featured past NHLers like Maxim Lapierre, James Sheppard, Landon Ferraro, and Pierre-Cédric Labrie. Overall, his 24 points were 8th in team scoring, 2nd among DEL U18s, behind Stützle’s 34 points and ahead of Peterka’s 11 points. At the U20 World Juniors, Reichel shone on the international stage, putting up three goals and two assists in seven games — numbers similar to compatriots Stützle and Peterka — while playing in all-situations.

What does he do well? Starting with the data, Will Scouch’s sample of Reichel features a top mark in his ability to generate individual opportunities at high-danger (a la Brady Tkachuk) at an astonishing rate of 37.93%. That’s much higher than Stützle’s 15% in the same league and names like Marco Rossi (32.35%) and Cole Perfetti (23.08%). He’s able to do this because of his anticipation in the offensive zone, a strong first couple of steps that allow him to explode into space, and a tenacity — despite being an average-sized player — to drive to the front of the net. He’s consistently engaged while he’s on the ice in all three zones, and while he wasn’t used much on the penalty kill, he has the qualities of a player who could thrive in that role. His lateral mobility is strong, and allows him to be deceptive when taking the puck up the ice in transition, or changing angles on opponents in the offensive zone.

There aren’t many things that he doesn’t do well; what makes Reichel appear lower on some lists is a combination of playing in a relatively unknown league like the DEL, and the lack of one extremely high-end physical tool. I’d argue that seeing a May-born 17-year-old generate attempts at high-danger like he has among men is a high-end skill, and it’s what Reichel fans are banking on to come through if a team does take him in the first round.


Further Reading Watching


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