Happy mock draft season! Over the next week leading up to the draft, SB Nation sites will be making their picks for the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft. The Ottawa Senators have been blessed with draft capital this year with picks number 3, 5 and 28. We kick things off with our choice for the third overall pick.
From Frölunda HC, the Ottawa Senators are proud to select...
With Alexis Lafrenière and Quinton Byfield off the board, it was a tight vote from the staff deciding between Raymond and German forward Tim Stützle (the final tally was 6-3). The selection does go against the current consensus, but leaves us ecstatic with who we believe is the best player available.
The Gothenburg forward has captured our attention for well over a year now, dominating the SuperElit league with 48 points in 37 games. He was a key player for Sweden at various international events, including five goals in as many games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
That success carried into a full season of SHL action... sort of. Often serving as the 13th forward for Frölunda with no guarantee of playing time or consistent linemates, his ten points in 33 games may seem paltry on the surface compared to his peers in Alexander Holtz, Noel Gunler, or even Anton Lundell playing in the Liiga. Unfortunately that wasn’t something he could control, and this has caused Raymond to fall on some draft boards as a result.
But if there were any questions as to whether this stunted his elite skills, it hasn’t shown with the return of 2020-21 SHL season. He already has a goal and assist in the first two games as of writing, and as thedaigle1 pointed out in his recent Five Thoughts column, his showings leading up to the regular season have also been spectacular.
When push comes to shove, we’ve always been convinced by Raymond’s skillset, hence why we’re picking him third overall. Here’s what we had to say about his game in our in-depth profile from May:
The first thing you need to know about Raymond: he’s fast. Really freaking fast. Like, probably the best skater in the draft class fast. This doesn’t only apply to his straight line speed either, as he’s extremely agile on his feet. He packs an explosiveness that gives him extra steps on defenders, making zone entires one of his biggest strengths.
On top of this, his vision and playmaking abilities are both very high-end. Similar to Lafrenière, he’s fantastic at evading opposition and creatively figuring out ways to make plays out of seemingly nothing in the offensive zone. He’s far from being a run-and-gun player — his smooth mobility around the ice makes him a threat at all times.
I suggest heading over to that profile for the full breakdown, as not only is he advanced in what he can do offensively, but he projects as a fantastic two-way winger who can get the puck from one end of the ice to the other in a pinch. He’s a complete player, but with some extra special attributes in his skating and forward-thinking playmaking.
But now comes the big question...
Raymond Over Stützle?
You didn’t read that wrong, we passed on Tim Stützle — Bob McKenzie’s 2nd ranked prospect in the draft class — for a winger. While everyone on the staff had our fingers crossed that Jewels of the Crown would pass on Byfield, we didn’t have such luck which forced us to make a tough decision.
First, if we look at the public consensus, the race is pretty darn close, and nowhere near as cut-and-dry as the rumours seem to suggest. Draft value in the chart below is marked as the average rank of both players after each pick is converted into draft value, used from Michael Schuckers’ research.
Raymond was well ahead at the beginning of the year, and part of that may be due to how few scouts had seen Stützle play back in the summer of 2019. But one meteoric rise later, and Stützle is worthily a top prospect, although we feel there might’ve been a bit of overcorrection.
When discussing semantics at the top of the draft class, Raymond gets the edge for me primarily for how he utilizes space. Stützle is magnificent by way of being able to get himself out of any situation by using his silky smooth hands, possibly the best in the draft class. He’s flashy and constantly making highlight reels, which is fine and all, but concerns arise when he starts to do that too much.
To adapt a quote from B_T about shot blocking, deking out of tight spaces is like using a fire extinguisher in a kitchen. It’s better than not doing anything, but you’re only doing it because something went wrong. The fact that Stützle often ends up in tight spaces is a bit worrisome, especially when trying to project that to the NHL where there just won’t be as much space. Having such amazing stickhandling abilities is incredible, and if he can adapt to use it effectively against better competition then the rest of hockey should watch out. But if we compare it to Raymond, who doesn’t need to be flashy as frequently just by knowing the right spots to attack, that makes a difference for me when looking for elite forwards at the top of the draft.
Additionally, I’m personally not as convinced of DEL competition as others in the public sphere may be. Just on the basis of NHL Equivalency (NHLe), a stat that adjusts a player’s scoring level based on the league’s difficulty, the DEL’s translation factor of 0.29 is far off from other European pro leagues such as the SHL (0.64) and Liiga (0.47), and closer to some U20 leagues such as the OHL (0.16) and the U20 SM-sarja (0.12). It falls somewhere in the middle, and it’s even tougher to get a good statistical reading when his path is so rare for top prospects. But saying that he dominated against pro competition at 17/18, while completely true, isn’t as giant a factor in this circumstance.
As a final point, even though Stützle could potentially project as a #1 centre while Raymond will stay on the wing, I’m completely fine choosing the winger given that Byfield is off the board. There will be lots of fantastic centres to choose from at #5... just a little hint for our next pick later today ;)
That was a lot of negative paragraphs about a prospect I still really love, and I’d still be ecstatic if the Sens pick Stützle on draft day. We have a full in-depth profile on him too which I suggest checking out. This probably isn’t the most realistic scenario given that Dorion has all but confirmed the Sens will be selecting whoever LA doesn’t pick between Byfield and Stützle. But we’ve also seen reports of the Senators being interested in Raymond at 5th overall, and even yesterday Raymond said he has talked to the Senators more than any other organization. My hopes are cautiously high that we’ll see him in a beautiful 2D jersey next week.
Did we make the right call? Who would you have chosen at pick #3?