Jack Hughes turned 18 on May 14, 2019. A month later, he was selected by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft. And by October, he was getting substantial ice time for the team.
That's how quickly top prospects can be factors in the NHL. This year, there are several players who could be like Hughes and be making their presences felt in the league soon enough.
There is some uncertainty with the 2020 NHL draft, though, as the league is suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The NHL announced Wednesday that the draft lottery and the draft (which was scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal) have also been postponed.
But it's fairly clear how the beginning of the opening round of the draft should unfold when the event does take place. Here's a mock predicting how it will happen.
NHL Mock Draft, 1st Round
1. Detroit: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
2. Ottawa: Tim Stutzle, C/LW, Adler Mannheim (DNL U20)
3. Ottawa (via San Jose): Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
4. Los Angeles: Cole Perfetti, C/LW, Saginaw (OHL)
5. Anaheim: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
6. New Jersey: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (SHL)
7. Buffalo: Jamie Drysdale, RHD, Erie (OHL)
8. Montreal: Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (SHL)
9. Chicago: Anton Lundell, C, Hifk (LIIGA)
10. New Jersey (via Arizona): Yaroslav Askarov, G, Ska-Varyagi (MHL)
11. Minnesota: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL)
12. Winnipeg: Jake Sanderson, LHD, USA U18 (NTDP)
13. N.Y. Rangers: Dylan Holloway, C, University of Wisconsin
14. Florida: Noel Gunler, LW, Lulea (SHL)
15. Columbus: Lukas Cormier, LHD, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
16. Calgary: Dawson Mercer, RW, Drummondville (QMJHL)
17. New Jersey (via Vancouver): Jeremie Poirier, LHD, Saint John (QMJHL)
18. Nashville: Jack Quinn, RW/LW, Ottawa (OHL)
19. Carolina (via Toronto): Rodion Amirov, Toplar Ufa (MHL)
20. Edmonton: Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)
21. Ottawa (via N.Y. Islanders): Braden Schneider, RHD, Brandon (WHL)
22. Dallas: Jan Mysak, C, Hamilton (OHL)
23. N.Y. Rangers (via Carolina): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
24. Minnesota (via Pittsburgh): Emil Andrae, LHD, HV71 J20 (SHL)
25. Philadelphia: Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
26. San Jose (via Tampa Bay): Roni Hirvonen, C, Assat (SM-Liiga)
27. Colorado: Zion Nybeck, RW, HV71 J20 (SHL)
28. Vegas: Antonio Stranges, C/LW, London (OHL)
29. Washington: Vasili Ponomaryov, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
30. St. Louis: Thomas Bordeleau, C, USA U18 (NTDP)
31. Anaheim (via Boston): Kaiden Guhle, LHD, Prince Albert (WHL)
It's not a certainty that the Red Wings will own the No. 1 pick in the draft. But it appears to be a sure thing that the player selected with that pick will be 18-year-old left winger Alexis Lafreniere.
Lafreniere had a great showing at the World Junior Championship earlier this year, as he won the MVP Award at the event by tallying four goals and six assists while leading Canada to the gold medal. He also had 112 points (35 goals and 77 assists) in 52 games for Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
At the time the NHL was suspended, the Red Wings had the worst record in the league, which would give them the best odds of securing the No. 1 pick (which they'd likely use on Lafreniere). Detroit could use the boost as it was 17-49-5 through 71 games. Plus, the Red Wings missed the playoffs the previous three seasons, so they could use an elite young player to get the franchise back on track.
"I know it's a great organization," Lafreniere said, according to Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News. "A lot of good players have played there."
Or maybe Lafreniere could stay closer to home and get drafted by the Senators. He is from Saint-Eustache, which isn't far from Ottawa.
Not only do the Senators have the second-worst record in the NHL, but they also own the first-round pick of the San Jose Sharks, who have the third-worst record. That could give them an advantage in the lottery, as they will have two selections with decent odds of being the No. 1 pick.
"It would be fun, it would be special for sure," Lafreniere said, per Kulfan. "It's a great place to play, a lot of good players, it would be an honor for sure. We'll see what happens."
Tim Stutzle (Adler Mannheim) and Quinton Byfield (Sudbury) are both great players who will also be drafted within the first few picks. However, it should be clear that Lafreniere is the standout player of his class and should be taken with the No. 1 selection.
Because the Senators have a pair of high picks, there's a strong chance that they could come away with two of the top three players. Ottawa hasn't reached the playoffs since the 2016-17 season, but this draft could be a key turning point for its future because of its two early selections.