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2020 NHL Draft: Ranking the Top 62 Prospects

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My personal ranking for the 2020 NHL draft.

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The time is nigh... time for draft rankings!

After spending many hours over the past year aggregating lists from the public sphere, I think it’s time I finally give it a shot.

It’s been a weird year of draft coverage — we’re staring down one of the strongest classes in recent memory, and it just so happens to be the one that gets hit by a global pandemic. And from the perspective of a Sens fan whose favourite team is filthy rich with draft picks, October 6th couldn’t come any sooner.

First, some housekeeping. This goal of this ranking isn’t to provide much additional analysis on each player — instead the goal is to dive into draft philosophy, picking out the reasons why one player might be worth picking over another. We’re already nearly 100,000 words deep in player profiles on this site, so if you want to find more in-depth analysis on each player, I’ll be providing you with links along the way.

Second, and maybe most importantly, I am not a scout. My knowledge is based mostly on synthesizing information from wherever I can get access — reading articles, watching videos, private conversations, analyzing data, etc. I’ll usually only watch games when there seems to be some disparity of opinions, which might be very stereotypical as an ‘analytics geek. But that’s also what I think will make this exercise interesting, by focusing on the types of players we value at the draft.

And finally, bear in mind that a lot of these rankings are very close — especially outside the first round it becomes really tricky to confidently place one player over another. I’m certain this well generate at least some level of disagreement, so don’t hold back and leave a comment about what you think at the end!

You’ll notice that each player has a listing for their expected range, which is a consolidated list from over 40 public sources. You can find the full data and methodology here.

Let’s jump right in with #1...

#1: Alexis Lafrenière

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
LW 18.93 QMJHL 1 - 1 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Alexis Lafrenière]

No surprise here. The QMJHL superstar may be on the older end of this draft class, but everything else he brings to the game is sensational. Only Sidney Crosby won as many CHL MVP awards as Lafrenière, who is expected to be a star as soon as takes his first strides on Madison Square Garden ice.

Is he a generational talent? I wouldn’t go that far — generational is a really strong descriptor and he doesn’t exactly have the same level of flash and record-breaking foot speed that someone like Connor McDavid possesses. But that shouldn’t be a knock against him at all, with a super translatable set of skills that gives me zero pause that he’ll be an effective play-driver in the NHL.

The only case for not having Lafrenière at #1 is because of the phenomenal player nipping at his heels in Quinton Byfield. Scouting is a business of predicting which players will be providing more value in the next three, four, five years and beyond, and the allure of having a game-breaking #1 centre could potentially convince some teams to take that alternate route. But ultimately I don’t think it’s controversial to say that with our current information, no player deserves to be selected #1 more than Lafrenière.

Verdict: The consensus says Lafrenière is #1, with only one public source being the exception. I’m in agreement.

#2: Quinton Byfield

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
C 18.08 OHL 2 - 3 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Quinton Byfield]

[Read more: Quinton Byfield Leaves a Lasting Impression on Sudbury]

Widely believed to be the clear #2 prospect heading into the 2019-20 season, Byfield has seemingly started to slip among both NHL circles and the public sphere, being surpassed by Tim Stützle on Bob McKenzie’s poll of NHL scouts. In the public sphere, a lot of the critiques have revolved around his lack of physicality for a player his size, and his quiet performance at the U20 World Juniors.

To be frank, I don’t buy either of those downsides. Byfield brings so much of what I want in a centre — explosive on his feet, fully confident controlling the puck on his stick, a creative mindset to work under pressure, and much more. Occasionally he’ll do something absolutely mind-boggling too, as if he’s reminding us just how high his ceiling is. The size and strength is an added bonus for the way Byfield plays, a tool that allows him to oftentimes completely take over the ice in a way so few players can do.

There is definitely still some refinement that needs to happen with Byfield’s game, but that’s far from enough reason to bump him down given what he’s been able to do in Sudbury. He’s closer to #1 than to #3 for me, he’s just that good.

Verdict: The debate for 2nd overall is firmly between Stützle and Byfield. I’ve picked Byfield first because I believe his unique combination talent is much more rare in today’s NHL, one that has potential to bring him to incredible heights. I also like his decision-making better than that of Stützle, who tends to get caught more trying to do too much on his own instead of utilizing his teammates. Byfield is a true dual-threat player offensively with instincts that will take him really far, and for me that’s pretty hard to pass up at 2nd overall.

#3: Lucas Raymond

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
RW/LW 18.47 SHL 3 - 6 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Lucas Raymond]

[Read more: NHL Mock Draft 2020: Ottawa Senators select Lucas Raymond with No. 3 pick]

I feel like I’ve gushed enough about Lucas Raymond already on this site before, so I’ll give you the tl;dr — he’s an exceptional skater in every sense of the term, with the hands and vision to match. His two-way game is also in contender as one of the best in the draft, with an overall pace of play that fills me with excitement to see just how much damage at the NHL level.

We all know Raymond is good, but third overall good? We were met with some stern criticism for selecting him 3rd overall in the SB Nation mock draft, but a lot of the reasoning from that post still stands. His hands aren’t as silky smooth as Stützle, a player who scored at a higher rate while also playing in a professional league. But while Stützle survives off of utilizing open ice to his advantage, I’m a big believer that Raymond is ahead of the game when it comes to creating that space for himself, and he was able to do in the SHL, a league far more difficult than the DEL.

Verdict: I’m still in range with the public consensus, albeit on the higher end with Byfield and Stützle generally occupying the tier of 2nd and 3rd.

#4: Marco Rossi

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
C 18.98 OHL 4 - 7 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Marco Rossi]

[Read more: NHL Mock Draft 2020: Ottawa Senators select Marco Rossi with No. 5 Pick]

Ever since hockey came to abrupt pause in March, this has easily been the ranking I’ve flip-flopped on the most, internally debating whether I’d prefer Marco Rossi or Tim Stützle. It’s still very close, but the more I read about and watch Rossi, the more I become convinced of his future as an NHL star.

A solid chunk of it boils down to his ridiculous statistical profile. He led the Ottawa 67’s to one of the OHL’s most dominant records in recent memory, while scoring more than everyone across the entire CHL. If he somehow doesn’t reach his ceiling, the list of draft-year P/GP leaders is going to look weird with an outlier. There’s just so much to love about Rossi — he’s hands down one of the smartest players in the draft, and does so many little things well to manipulate opposition that it’s no wonder he took the scoring title.

Fourth is different than first, obviously, and I could see a case for bumping up Rossi even a little more on this list. Even though he’s tough as nails and has a super sturdy skating stride — especially for someone standing at 5’9” — there are still questions as to whether it will stand up against stronger defenders. I’m less worried for Raymond in this sense given the way his speed and finesse can throw defenders on their heels. But there’s good reason why Rossi is generally heralded as one of the more NHL-ready prospects (on top of also being one of the draft’s oldest players), especially given how he transcended junior hockey last season.

Verdict: Like Raymond, I’m on the highest end of the public range with Rossi, with a handful of players in this general range of the top ten that people tend to like shuffling around. But the way Rossi thinks the game at a high level for someone his age is what I value most, hence why I have him at #4.

#5: Tim Stützle

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
C/LW 18.67 DEL 2 - 6 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Tim Stützle]

I’ve been knocking down Tim Stützle a bit in the last couple player comparisons, but I think it’s worth remembering why he’s such a highly regarded prospect to begin with. He brings an unparalleled level of energy in this draft class, always buzzing with the puck seemingly gravitating towards his stick. His hands are phenomenal, especially in tight spaces, which can make him a dangerous player for a scoring chance at a moment’s notice.

He’s a dream to watch, and the fact he accomplished this against older professional competition is a big feat. At the same time, I tend to be more skeptical of the DEL than most — they’re not exactly a league that attracts international talent like the KHL, SHL and Liiga, with defensive systems that don’t take too much to collapse if a player has even decent speed and skill. Stützle took advantage of it in the fullest which was fantastic, but it facilitated his style of play which at times allowed him to get away with being over-confident with the puck. That extra space where he really thrives won’t exist in the NHL.

I don’t mean to reduce Stützle’s skillset just to his hands, though. His fast-paced motor will be very helpful to surviving at higher levels, and his versatility as either a centre or winger will open up plenty of options for him down the road.

Verdict: Still in range, but on the lower end. It’s been amazing to follow Stützle’s rise over the past year from a barely-known prospect to one who will likely be selected in the top three. I personally think the hype has gone a bit too far, but whoever drafts him will still be getting a heck of a player who I’m still confident will be a really, really good NHLer with some more refinement.

#6: Cole Perfetti

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
C 18.7 OHL 5 - 9 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Cole Perfetti]

The OHL has put forward a very strong group of forwards for this year’s draft class, and Cole Perfetti won’t be the last one you’ll be hearing about in this post. I go into detail on why I love Perfetti’s style of play in the full profile linked above, but what stands out most to me is just how skilled he is — that’s a vague term, but his stickhandling and shot both have ‘high-end NHLer’ written all over it. He’s the last player on this list who I consider to be truly elite in this regard as an all-around offenceman, and given how rare it is for players to develop that level of skill later on, it’s why I have him ahead him of players such as Lundell and Holtz who amp up their value in slightly different ways.

What holds him back from the top five for me is that his pace doesn’t quite match a couple of the players above him (Stützle, Raymond) while also trailing Rossi in production in the same league. But while he may need a bit more time to develop his strength and refine his game to the NHL level, he has the potential to be a massive reward to whoever drafts him, especially if it’s outside the top five.

Verdict: I’m right along with the consensus who have Perfetti pegged as a can’t-miss top-ten prospect. There have been rumours circulating of the Detroit Red Wings being interested in taking Perfetti fourth overall, and while it may not be my personal choice, I can respect the selection for a player who packs such an incredible and versatile amount of skill.

#7: Anton Lundell

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
C 18.95 Liiga 7 - 14 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Anton Lundell]

[Listen: Draft Debaters Part 8, feat. Jokke Nevalainen & Samuel Tirpak]

Anton Lundell is widely considered the player this draft with the highest floor not named Lafrenière, and while that typically goes against what I value in analyzing players, I think we need to remember just how high that floor is, with a pretty darn high ceiling to match.

With the second highest CF% in the Liiga as an 18-year-old, it’s evidently clear that Lundell already has what it takes to be a play driver. He’s very refined away from puck which allows him to cause turnovers and move play the other way, but that refinement also ties in heavily to his offence. He’s just a really smart player who knows how to manipulate defenders and use his teammates to his advantage. He doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor of Stützle or Perfetti, but if I had to pick one to turn into a play-driving NHL centre, I’m choosing Lundell.

Verdict: I’m right in range with the consensus on Lundell, albeit on the higher end as there’s a bit more disparity on him than some other players in this range. He’s a talented player, who despite being one of the oldest skaters in the draft and lacking some flash, does so many small things right to warrant a high pick, with the production to back it up.

#8: Alexander Holtz

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
RW 18.64 SHL 6 - 9 In Range

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Alexander Holtz]

[Listen: Draft Debaters Part 7, feat. Tony Ferrari & Alex Taxman]

And we’ve returned to the flash! Holtz can especially flash his shot, which is indisputably one of the best we’ve seen for a draft prospect in years (or since Arthur Kaliyev, take your pick). I love how fantastic he is at finding space for himself when the puck isn’t on his stick, reading plays to set himself up like the best snipers in the game all do.

Normally I’d be skeptical of a prospect who relies mostly on finishing talent, given that most of the time their skillsets rely on a single trait, and to a degree I still am given that Holtz’ team had a better shot differential when he was off the ice. But Holtz separates himself by way of being such an energetic player in all facets, with the talent and determination to always put himself in the best possible position to score. His offensive acumen translated to the SHL level too despite playing limited minutes, further alleviating any worry of selecting a sniper this early.

Verdict: The consensus range on Holtz is pretty tightly nit in the back half of the top ten, and that’s right where I have him. The ceiling is immense with the potential to be one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL, hence why he’s still a clear top-ten player. But like Lundell, he’s also one of the draft’s oldest prospects, and Lundell’s more widespread set of high-end tools gives him the slight edge for me.

#9: Jamie Drysdale

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
RD 18.44 OHL 5 - 8 Low

[Read more: 2020 NHL Draft Profile: Jamie Drysdale]

Finally, the first defenceman to appear on this list. Given that Drysdale’s a coveted right-shot defenceman in a year void of many high-end defence prospects, I fully expect he’ll be off the board by this spot. And to his credit, he’s an electric player in all the senses I wrote about in the profile linked above, exemplifying nearly everything I look for in a “new-age” or “modern” defenceman. He’s nimble and quick on his feet, and has served as Erie’s spine when it comes to both zone transitions and sparking offensive creativity.

In my mind, though, there’s a clear separation between Drysdale and other recent top defencemen taken high in the draft. For a smaller defenceman he still gets away with a fair amount of small things in the OHL that he won’t be able to do against stronger competition, which will inevitably have to lead to some additional refinement in his decision-making while making alterations to his creative process. In the larger scheme that shouldn’t take away from the fact that he has all the capability in the world to make those changes, but it’s an extra step that adds some uncertainty that wasn’t present until this point in the list.

Verdict: I’m lower on Drysdale than the consensus for mostly that reason, plus just a slight preference to the elite individual traits possessed by players such as Holtz and Lundell. I also tend to have a slight aversion to ranking defencemen much higher in general, with lingering memories of 2015-2017 where players such as Hanifin, Juolevi and Liljegren haven’t progressed in the sort of ways I expected. I like to think that evaluation of defencemen has evolved since to fit today’s game, and Drysdale brings so much of that to the table. But if you give me the choice between the incredible offensive forward prospect and the incredible offensive defence prospect, I’ll tend to lean for the forward.

#10: Seth Jarvis

Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict
RW 18.62 WHL 10 - 17 In Range

[Listen: Draft Debaters Part 1, feat. Josh Tessler & TPEHockey]

The top nine is through, and now we’re into the territory where things become much fuzzier and nearly everything is dictated by personal preference. And as someone who likes players with a gaudy statistical profile, Seth Jarvis is my pick as the last player slotting into my top ten.

Jarvis is a player we haven’t covered in-depth on this site, so let me give you the quick scoop — as a winger he’s one of the most consistently dangerous playmakers in this draft class, but with incredible overall awareness of his teammates, he winds up as more of a dual-threat player with the force to get pucks to dangerous areas. He consistently excellent in nearly every aspect this past WHL season, with his point total exploding in the second half to post the highest draft-year P/GP since Sam Reinhart in 2013-14.

While his sudden explosion on the WHL scene may cause worry for some, I’m personally convinced by the way he was still able to consistently generate high-danger chances throughout the entire season — the points just didn’t start flowing until later on. He can drive his own line, and while he may need to continue upping his pace when starting off at higher levels, he has all the raw tools to be able to accomplish that.

Verdict: Jarvis has been one of the draft’s biggest risers this past season, to the point where a top-ten selection is just in range with the consensus. He doesn’t have the same name recognition as the peers above him — while his skating is far from an issue he’s the least mobile player on this list so far, plus he’ll need to learn to adapt to play against some more physical competition in a similar way to Drysdale. But I firmly believe he’s one of the smartest players in this draft outside of the top few, and wouldn’t even be against seeing him drafted higher.


From this point forward, because the players are so close, I’ll be grouping them into chunks. I wouldn’t classify these as tiers because the scale is pretty incremental, but I’ll touch on any players of note.

#11-15

# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
11 Rodion Amirov LW 18.95 KHL 11 - 20 In Range
12 Mavrik Bourque C 18.69 QMJHL 15 - 27 High Profile
13 Noel Gunler RW/LW 18.94 SHL 12 - 25 In Range Draft Debaters
14 Jacob Perreault C 18.42 OHL 15 - 29 High Profile
15 Dawson Mercer RW 18.89 QMJHL 13 - 20 In Range Draft Debaters

We’re sticking with the forwards. All of these players have extremely high upside with the potential to be top scorers in the NHL, and we haven’t provided in-depth coverage for some of them on this site just on the basis that it’s extremely unlikely the Sens will take them. But there’s lots to discuss in regards to this group.

First, I placed Rodion Amirov as the next highest after Jarvis, and he even was a contender to slide into the top ten. He’s been a star producer against older Russian competition for a long time now, including spending the entire 2019-20 season in the KHL. He has an incredible motor and slick offensive tools that have held up well playing pro hockey. He also has five points in his first eight KHL games of the 2020-21 season, which although is a tiny sample, should ease some doubts about his dual-threat abilities not translating in a larger role.

Noel Gunler has been one of the most divisive players all season — he’s been right there alongside Raymond and Holtz in production through the Swedish junior ranks, even besting them both by scoring nearly a goal-per-game in his D-1 year in the SuperElit. His goal-scoring abilities are impeccable, yet he continued to be snubbed for international tournament rosters. He’s ranked 9th on NHL Central Scouting’s board of European skaters, which prompted me to place him at #1 on my list of the draft’s most underrated players back in March. While he may not hold that spot anymore as other players have grown on me (plus I’m actually in range with the public consensus), he has massive potential to dominate in the NHL.

The first two players with the ‘High’ verdict fall in this group in Mavrik Bourque and Jacob Perreault. Like everyone else in this field, they have very high-end skillsets with the potential to burst into elite NHLers, albeit for very different reasons. They were the two players I wrote about in my piece for players I’d like the Sens to target at 28th overall (if they’re available), so it’s probably not a surprise that I fall higher on them than the consensus. But for Bourque, one of the draft’s most smart tactical players with high-end production, and Perreault, a natural goal-scorer who despite consistency issues has shown the ability take over an entire game — they both exemplify traits I’m looking for at the top of the draft. They come with their risks, but in both cases I think that risk is completely worth it.

Rounding out the group is Dawson Mercer, another high-end producer who actually reminds me of Stützle in many ways. He’s a phenomenal stickhandler who works extremely well with the space he’s given, and the ability to make some spectacular creative plays when the moment calls for it. His stride may not compare to the higher players in this group like Amirov & Perreault, but I’m not particularly concerned of it holding him back in the long run.


#16-22

# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
16 Jake Sanderson LD 18.19 USDP 7 - 16 In Range Profile
17 Jack Quinn RW 18.99 OHL 11 - 21 In Range Draft Debaters
18 Jeremie Poirier LD 18.29 QMJHL 27 - 72 High Profile
19 Connor Zary C 18.97 WHL 15 - 24 In Range Draft Debaters
20 Dylan Holloway LW 18.98 NCAA 14 - 21 In Range Draft Debaters

We’re rounding out the top 20, still with plenty of fantastic prospects who all have the potential to be fantastic NHLers. The big difference: we’re finally starting to see some defencemen!

While still in range with the public consensus by a hair, there’s a much higher chance Jake Sanderson is drafted way higher than 16th on draft day. I dive into this in my longform profile, and the places where he excels — zone transitions and defending — are fantastic tools to have. Especially when it comes to zone transitions, he’s clearly the best at it in this draft class and by a healthy margin. But even at this stage in the first round, there will be players available who have the potential to be elite NHLers, even if they occupy some more risk, whereas Sanderson is more capped in his two-way abilities by a drop-off in offensive abilities compared to the rest. He’s a clear first round talent, and the second best defenceman in the draft, in my opinion. But higher than this to me feels rich given the talent available.

Completely opposite to Sanderson is Jérémie Poirier, who I’ve been openly high on all season, to much criticism. His defence sucks. There’s no other way to really put it, he can make some awful decisions which led to a negative on-ice goal differential. But his acumen when his team is going the other way is so high that it’s hard to ignore the potential for a legitimate #1 defenceman.

Jack Quinn has seen his name tied to the Senators recently, and I can definitely see the case for having him even higher. His production last season was phenomenal, and he accomplished it mostly apart from Rossi except for on the power play. He has tremendous goal-scoring abilities, but when comparing players at their best, I just like what some others bring to the table more. Bourque is more manipulative of his opponents, Perreault is a more confident and skilled puck carrier, and Mercer’s level of finesse can occasionally make him look like a superhuman talent beamed over from another planet. Quinn is still a phenomenal player in his own right, but when projecting where he’ll be going forward, I see his chances of winding up as a more complimentary piece being a bit higher than the others.

Wrapping up the group, take your pick between Connor Zary and Dylan Holloway. I haven’t dove extremely deep on either player enough to make a clear side-by-side comparison, but they’re some of the more highly lauded two-way players of this draft class who have seen fit to decimating their respective leagues. They’re both older prospects too, with Holloway even playing up in the NCAA this past season. But in the few viewings I’ve had of each, Zary has impressed me more as a puck handler who can be explosive off the rush, even though he wasn’t tasked with it often on Kamloops. Maybe he ends up better suited as a winger, although these are two players who have a pretty clear trajectory to the NHL.


Let’s round out the top 31 in style, now getting into the range of players who I just think are really worth taking a swing on if they happen to be available. I won’t touch on everybody, as we have profiles on this site of almost every player. But there’s some really fun players of interest who I’ll make note of below.

#21-31

# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
21 Marat Khusnutdinov C 18.17 MHL 19 - 53 In Range Profile
22 Helge Grans RD 18.35 SuperElit 19 - 42 In Range Profile
23 Daniil Gushchin RW 18.61 USHL 34 - 73 High Profile
24 Veeti Miettinen RW 18.99 U20 SM-sarja 35 - 87 High Profile
25 Jan Mysak LW 18.23 Czech 15 - 32 In Range Profile
26 Emil Andrae LD 18.56 SuperElit 22 - 46 In Range Profile
27 Roni Hirvonen C 18.68 Liiga 27 - 53 In Range Profile
28 Tyson Foerster C 18.66 OHL 24 - 42 In Range Profile
29 Zion Nybeck LW/RW 18.35 SuperElit 21 - 76 In Range Profile
30 Justin Sourdif C 18.48 WHL 35 - 82 High Profile
31 Lukas Cormier LD 18.47 QMJHL 29 - 70 In Range Profile

Marat Khusnutinov is a player I would’ve been super skeptical of in any other year, and maybe I’m joining the 200 Hockey Men by saying this, but I urge you to watch him. Not only for your viewing pleasure because he’s extremely fun to watch, but his sheer versatility as a high-flying offensive creator has blown me away at levels comparable to a some of the players even higher on this list. I still have that skepticism in the back of my head — why didn’t it translate as much to the scoresheet? Was he just able to take advantage of all the holes of the MHL? There’s definitely still a chance that’s the case, but I’ll firmly stand in the higher range of the Marat camp.

Another player I’m higher on for similar reasons is Daniil Gushchin, my favourite USHL player from this draft class. He has all the raw tools to have a massive breakout season with the Niagara IceDogs. If he can put together his combination of gifted footwork and vision into a more consistent package then I’m convinced he could be a top-six forward. He certainly doesn’t play like he’s 5’8”, sort of like the guy right after him on this list...

I’m still shocked with some of the places I see Veeti Miettinen landing on draft rankings, with 24th being tied for the highest in my database of 45 sources. He put up record-breaking numbers in the the Jr. A SM-liiga over the last two seasons, with one of the more versatile shots in the draft. He’s a volume shooter, which although has concerned some with the fact that he took a lot of low-danger chances, it has me less worried because he got a lot of chances from everywhere. He pushed play positively on a team that was otherwise really awful, making me wonder how the perception of Miettinen would’ve changed if he’d been allowed to play in the Liiga.

The last player in this group I’m outside of the consensus on is Justin Sourdif, who has concerned some with his relative lack of progression from the 2018-19 season. To me, I still see a player who thinks the game at a really high level, and like Bourque wins me over with how deceptive he can be. He also possesses an explosive gear, which although I’d like to see utilized more often, can make him a really dangerous player out of seemingly nowhere. His level of smarts can’t be taught, making me curious to see how he’ll do with a bit more talent around him.

I’d also like to discuss a couple of the defenceman in this range, starting with Helge Grans as my favourite of the Swedish bunch, followed by Emil Andrae. They both possess electrifying, albeit very raw offensive toolkits in very different ways, which we go over in depth in each of their profiles. While I prefer Andrae’s decision-making slightly more than Grans — even for me Grans’ risky plays can sometimes be too much when there’s a better option available — some concerns with Andrae also knock him down a bit for me. He needs to improve his straight line speed, and his lack of size limits his potential to apply defensive zone pressure. But you may have noticed by now that I like taking swings on high-end offensive players, hence why I have them both (plus Lukas Cormier) still inside my first round.


Let’s take a breather... rankings aren’t easy when there’s dozens of factors balancing out to a very close scale for so many players. And now we move on to the second round, where it’s even more prevalent than before and personal preferences are even more emphasized. Like the first round it’ll be broken down into arbitrary chunks, starting with 32-43.

#32-43

# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
32 Roby Jarventie LW 18.11 Mestis 41 - 80 High Profile
33 Ozzy Wiesblatt RW 18.52 WHL 31 - 61 In Range Profile
34 Lukas Reichel LW 18.33 DEL 18 - 36 In Range Profile
35 Yaroslav Askarov G 18.25 VHL 9 - 14 Low Profile
36 William Wallinder LD 18.14 SuperElit 23 - 45 In Range Profile
37 Kasper Simontaival RW 18.68 U20 SM-sarja 32 - 74 In Range Profile
38 John-Jason Peterka LW 18.67 DEL 21 - 32 Low Draft Debaters
39 Thomas Bordeleau C 18.7 USDP 29 - 45 In Range Profile
40 Tristen Robins C 18.83 WHL 29 - 93 In Range Profile
41 William Villeneuve RD 18.49 QMJHL 35 - 90 In Range Profile
42 Emil Heineman LW 18.83 SuperElit 35 - 88 In Range Profile
43 Brendan Brisson C 18.9 USHL 19 - 37 Low HM

Alright, let’s address the elephant in the room: Yaroslav Askarov at 35th. I stand by what I said in my full-length profile: goalies are random specimens, and finding anyone who can consistently be above-average, let alone elite, is super rare and verging on impossible in today’s NHL. It puts a big cap on his ceiling compared to the forwards and defencemen above him on this list, who all have the potential to put up consistently excellent results in the NHL. Maybe Askarov is the one who bucks the trend, and the fact that many in the field are projecting him as that has made me fluctuate on this stance before. But I’m sticking to my gut and ensuring that I won’t be taking a goalie in the first round.

At the top of the group we have Roby Järventie, who often finds himself at the tail end of the ‘second-tier’ Finns (Hirvonen, Simontaival, Miettinen and Järventie). But his flashes of goal-scoring abilities are tremendous, and the exact type of plays I want to bet on for a potentially fantastic player. The fact we only see it every so often can be a bit frustrating, but I’ll take those frustrations in the present with the ability to still mould his game as a young prospect.

Two more Germans appear in this tier as well in Lukas Reichel and John-Jason Peterka, who have both risen to be top-31 players based on the consensus. In the end I settled on Reichel over Peterka given his consistent ability to get high-danger chances, whereas Peterka, while valuable with his velocity alone, has a longer ways to go by way of filling out the rest of his skillset. Ultimately I’m lower on the two in general based on my skepticism with the DEL — as mentioned with Stützle, I find them more comparable to some of the European junior leagues to the pro ones, even though it falls somewhere in the middle. I’d happily like them to prove me wrong, though, and potentially make this the best draft class for Germans in a long time.

The last player in this group I’m outside of the consensus on is Brendan Brisson, who you’d think is someone I’d have higher given that he occasionally shows flashes of brilliance with his decision-making as both a shooter and distributor. But his surroundings in Chicago were extremely strong, and even in his best moments it appears he was more of a recipient than a line driver. I still have him ahead of his teammates on my draft board because he still has the raw tools to potentially be a huge factor when he goes to the University of Michigan, and his shot can be abnormally good. But in the meantime I’m a bit more skeptical than most.

With one more group to go, let’s look at the rest of the second round, which is where I’m cutting off the rankings.

#44-62

# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
44 Anton Johannesson LD 18.48 SuperElit 36 - 88 In Range Profile
45 Hendrix Lapierre C 18.6 QMJHL 19 - 33 Low Profile
46 Martin Chromiak LW 18.07 Slovakia 32 - 81 In Range Profile
47 Brett Berard LW 18.02 USDP 41 - 87 In Range Profile
48 Jean-Luc Foudy C 18.34 OHL 36 - 74 In Range HM
49 Sam Colangelo RW 18.72 USHL 33 - 77 In Range Profile
50 Kaiden Guhle LD 18.66 WHL 17 - 37 Low Profile
51 Theodor Niederbach C 18.55 SuperElit 34 - 80 In Range Profile
52 Brandon Coe RW 18.79 OHL 55 - 100 High HM
53 Ryan O'Rourke LD 18.34 OHL 30 - 53 In Range HM
54 Alexander Pashin LW 18.14 MHL 30 - 92 In Range Profile
55 Joni Jurmo LD 18.41 U20 SM-sarja 36 - 83 In Range Profile
56 Ridly Greig LW 18.11 WHL 27 - 85 In Range HM
57 Ryan Francis RW 18.79 QMJHL 69 - 100 High Profile
58 Topi Niemela RD 18.48 Liiga 31 - 55 Low HM
59 Vasily Ponomaryov C 18.51 QMJHL 33 - 71 In Range Profile
60 Carter Savoie LW 18.64 AJHL 40 - 86 In Range
61 Tyler Tullio C 18.45 OHL 43 - 78 In Range Profile
62 Brock Faber RD 18.07 USDP 36 - 96 In Range Profile

Alright, lots to break down. Starting with the top two, I have Anton Johannesson and Hendrix Lapierre close to each other as two players who have suffered lots from injuries, but also have real game-breaking potential. Lapierre was especially tough to rank because a lot of it depends on his health heading into the new season, which although seems to be fine, the same was said when he returned to play last season. Whereas Johannesson looked fantastic in his small 2019-20 sample with 24 points in 20 SuperElit games, Lapierre really struggled. It’s an odd risk to balance, and one that I’m personally not taking much of a chance on when there are other players I really like.

Someone else I’m low on, which I’m sure astute readers saw coming from a mile away, is Kaiden Guhle. His value is built on two things: his physicality and defensive acumen. Those are skills that young prospects tend to pick up more through development, whereas I’m more worried that he won’t be able to pick up the baseline offensive vision and skills to turn himself into an effective player at higher levels. Still, not all picks can be swings for high-octane talent — there’s still value if he ends up being just an okay NHLer. I also think his agility on his feet lends him some more promise of getting to the big league, compared to his fellow WHL companion Braden Schneider (more on him later). He’ll almost certainly be off the board before 50th, and the same goes for Topi Niemelä who I’m also lower on for similar reasons. In a class full of talented skaters, the style they play is just not what I’m looking for in the top two rounds of the draft.

That leaves me with two players I’m higher on than the consensus: Brandon Coe and Ryan Francis. Coe is someone I’ve been especially surprised to see hasn’t crawled up on even mainstream draft boards, as he’s a big and sturdy player who plays a well-rounded offensive game. There are some questions surrounding his efficiency of movement around the ice, although he was a clear play-driver on a weak North Bay roster, projecting as a solid two-way centre.

Francis, meanwhile, was a leading getter of primary points in the QMJHL last season on the basis of his slick hands and confidence with the puck. He was also notably effective as a transition player, especially on the breakout. I see and understand the issues of his size and footspeed, plus the advantage he got of being a smaller forward with lots of space in the QMJHL. But as has been the theme in this article, I’ll take that chance on the potentially higher ceiling, especially when it’s backed up by strong scoring.


That’s all for the list, but there’s a bit more analysis needed to be done. Throughout the year I’ve been tracking a few things for each list included in the consensus rankings:

  • The players they’re highest on
  • The players they’re lowest on
  • The most notable omissions
  • Any players ranked by only that source (not applicable to my list)
  • Any league preferences (higher/lower percentage of players ranked, higher/lower percentage of assigned draft value)
  • The ‘Hot Take Score’ — on a scale of 1 to 10, how far is their average player placement from the consensus?

For the sake of this article I’ve plugged my list into the database to see where it lands on those stats, even though it won’t be staying. Let’s see the results...

Highest Highs

Daniil Gushchin (23), Veeti Miettinen (24), Jérémie Poirier (18)

No real surprises here, Gushchin and Poirier are two of the most high-octane players in this draft class which has led to a lot of divisiveness, while Miettinen’s track record and goal-scoring abilities are just too much for me to ignore.

Lowest Lows

Yaroslav Askarov (35), John-Jason Peterka (38), Hendrix Lapierre (45)

Again, no surprise with Askarov being the player I’m lowest on compared to everyone else, as well as Lapierre given my still-present concerns with his injury history. Peterka was more of a surprise to me given that I’m still a fan of his and could even understand why a team would take a swing on him in the late first round. But these players are chosen by being the most standard deviations from the average, and it appears the standard deviation on Peterka is pretty low from the consensus, with everyone seemingly on board for first-round Peterka.

Omissions

Braden Schneider, Justin Barron, Jake Neighbours

I’ll be honest, I still don’t understand the fascination with Braden Schneider. He hits, has fantastic gap control and is fine defensively, and while he led Brandon is the lowest GA/60, he was second lowest in GF/60 which balanced out to below average. Over a quarter of his points last season were secondary assists on the power play, and given his overall questionable decision-making on offence I don’t see how he projects to keep playing with the man-advantage. Even compared to Guhle, I haven’t been impressed with how he moves through the neutral zone. He’s fantastic at tracking down opponents and bringing plays to a halt in his own zone, but he’s one of the oldest players in the draft class, and there’s too many holes for me to feel comfortable ranking him.

Justin Barron is a similar case, although I have to give him some benefit of the doubt given that he missed a lot of playing time last season with a blood clot. But like Lapierre, even when he was healthy he wasn’t very effective for Halifax, where he’ll be wearing the ‘C’ next season. But there’s no doubt that his 2018-19 season was fantastic, and despite the downward trajectory, the hope is that he’ll be able to rekindle some of that stellar two-way play that made him a top-20 prospect a year ago.

The third player, Jake Neighbours, is a player I’ve gone back-and-forth on a bunch this year, ultimately leaving him unranked. He’s not the smallest player ever at 5’11”, but the way he navigates the ice and tends to find himself in small spaces would make you think he’s the size of Gushchin. He put up a lot of points, but his estimated P1/60 ranked 14th among draft-eligible WHLers last year, behind some players who just missed my list in Pavel Novak and Connor McClennon. When his team has control in the offensive zone I think he can do well for himself as a creative playmaker, but there are some red flags that have him bumped off my board.

League Preferences

+Mestis

I’m higher on the Mestis than most, which is no surprise given that the only draft-eligible player from the Mestis this year is Roby Järventie. It’d be more notable if a league like the OHL or USDP showed up, but overall my league balance is enough in line with the consensus to not raise any other flags.

‘Hot Take’ Score

7.3/10

In the end, it turns out my takes are hotter than average, which honestly might’ve been the biggest surprise to me from all of this. Ranking Askarov in the second round buoys a lot of that — nobody else has him lower than 18th. Although a bunch of little off-the-board picks here and there, plus some adjustments near the top, and my list winds up with a 7.3/10 on the hot-take-o-meter.


If you’ve made it this far, well shucks, I’m flattered that you’ve given your time to hear my perspective on a bunch of puck-slugging teenagers. This is only my opinion, and I highly suggest seeking out other sources to get a more comprehensive perspective on the draft class. I know I have my biases, and even leaned into some of them with these rankings given the types of skillsets I prefer. But I hope this sheds some light on some of the players I’m personally hoping for, as I’m getting more excited with each passing day for October 6th.

There were still a bunch of rankings I didn’t touch on, so if you have any questions, leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!

The Top 62

# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
# Player Pos Age League Expected Range Verdict S7 Coverage
1 Alexis Lafreniere LW 18.93 QMJHL 1 - 1 In Range Profile
2 Quinton Byfield C 18.08 OHL 2 - 3 In Range Profile
3 Lucas Raymond RW/LW 18.47 SHL 3 - 6 In Range Profile
4 Marco Rossi C 18.98 OHL 4 - 7 In Range Profile
5 Tim Stutzle C/LW 18.67 DEL 2 - 6 In Range Profile
6 Cole Perfetti C 18.7 OHL 5 - 9 In Range Profile
7 Anton Lundell C 18.95 Liiga 7 - 14 In Range Profile
8 Alexander Holtz RW 18.64 SHL 6 - 9 In Range Profile
9 Jamie Drysdale RD 18.44 OHL 5 - 8 Low Profile
10 Seth Jarvis RW 18.62 WHL 10 - 17 In Range Draft Debaters
11 Rodion Amirov LW 18.95 KHL 11 - 20 In Range
12 Mavrik Bourque C 18.69 QMJHL 15 - 27 High Profile
13 Noel Gunler RW/LW 18.94 SHL 12 - 25 In Range Draft Debaters
14 Jacob Perreault C 18.42 OHL 15 - 29 High Profile
15 Dawson Mercer RW 18.89 QMJHL 13 - 20 In Range Draft Debaters
16 Jake Sanderson LD 18.19 USDP 7 - 16 In Range Profile
17 Jack Quinn RW 18.99 OHL 11 - 21 In Range Draft Debaters
18 Jeremie Poirier LD 18.29 QMJHL 27 - 72 High Profile
19 Connor Zary C 18.97 WHL 15 - 24 In Range Draft Debaters
20 Dylan Holloway LW 18.98 NCAA 14 - 21 In Range Draft Debaters
21 Marat Khusnutdinov C 18.17 MHL 19 - 53 In Range Profile
22 Helge Grans RD 18.35 SuperElit 19 - 42 In Range Profile
23 Daniil Gushchin RW 18.61 USHL 34 - 73 High Profile
24 Veeti Miettinen RW 18.99 U20 SM-sarja 35 - 87 High Profile
25 Jan Mysak LW 18.23 Czech 15 - 32 In Range Profile
26 Emil Andrae LD 18.56 SuperElit 22 - 46 In Range Profile
27 Roni Hirvonen C 18.68 Liiga 27 - 53 In Range Profile
28 Tyson Foerster C 18.66 OHL 24 - 42 In Range Profile
29 Zion Nybeck LW/RW 18.35 SuperElit 21 - 76 In Range Profile
30 Justin Sourdif C 18.48 WHL 35 - 82 High Profile
31 Lukas Cormier LD 18.47 QMJHL 29 - 70 In Range Profile
32 Roby Jarventie LW 18.11 Mestis 41 - 80 High Profile
33 Ozzy Wiesblatt RW 18.52 WHL 31 - 61 In Range Profile
34 Lukas Reichel LW 18.33 DEL 18 - 36 In Range Profile
35 Yaroslav Askarov G 18.25 VHL 9 - 14 Low Profile
36 William Wallinder LD 18.14 SuperElit 23 - 45 In Range Profile
37 Kasper Simontaival RW 18.68 U20 SM-sarja 32 - 74 In Range Profile
38 John-Jason Peterka LW 18.67 DEL 21 - 32 Low Draft Debaters
39 Thomas Bordeleau C 18.7 USDP 29 - 45 In Range Profile
40 Tristen Robins C 18.83 WHL 29 - 93 In Range Profile
41 William Villeneuve RD 18.49 QMJHL 35 - 90 In Range Profile
42 Emil Heineman LW 18.83 SuperElit 35 - 88 In Range Profile
43 Brendan Brisson C 18.9 USHL 19 - 37 Low HM
44 Anton Johannesson LD 18.48 SuperElit 36 - 88 In Range Profile
45 Hendrix Lapierre C 18.6 QMJHL 19 - 33 Low Profile
46 Martin Chromiak LW 18.07 Slovakia 32 - 81 In Range Profile
47 Brett Berard LW 18.02 USDP 41 - 87 In Range Profile
48 Jean-Luc Foudy C 18.34 OHL 36 - 74 In Range HM
49 Sam Colangelo RW 18.72 USHL 33 - 77 In Range Profile
50 Kaiden Guhle LD 18.66 WHL 17 - 37 Low Profile
51 Theodor Niederbach C 18.55 SuperElit 34 - 80 In Range Profile
52 Brandon Coe RW 18.79 OHL 55 - 100 High HM
53 Ryan O'Rourke LD 18.34 OHL 30 - 53 In Range HM
54 Alexander Pashin LW 18.14 MHL 30 - 92 In Range Profile
55 Joni Jurmo LD 18.41 U20 SM-sarja 36 - 83 In Range Profile
56 Ridly Greig LW 18.11 WHL 27 - 85 In Range HM
57 Ryan Francis RW 18.79 QMJHL 69 - 100 High Profile
58 Topi Niemela RD 18.48 Liiga 31 - 55 Low HM
59 Vasily Ponomaryov C 18.51 QMJHL 33 - 71 In Range Profile
60 Carter Savoie LW 18.64 AJHL 40 - 86 In Range
61 Tyler Tullio C 18.45 OHL 43 - 78 In Range Profile
62 Brock Faber RD 18.07 USDP 36 - 96 In Range Profile