NHL Draft 2020: Quinton Byfield and Prospects Ready to Thrive as Rookies

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIMarch 31, 2020

OSHAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 7: Quinton Byfield #55 of the Sudbury Wolves skates during an OHL game against the Oshawa Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre on February 7, 2020 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

When will this year's NHL draft take place? That's unknown after the league postponed the event, which was scheduled for late June, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Whenever it does take place, there are plenty of talented players who could play in the league next season.

While the draft lottery hasn't yet taken place to determine the order in which the teams will pick, it's clear which prospects have a good chance to be among the first players to come off the board this year.

Here's a look at several top draft prospects who could quickly make an impact in the NHL upon entering the league.

     

Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

HAMILTON, ON - JANUARY 16:  Alexis Lafreniere #11 of Team White skates during the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team Red at FirstOntario Centre on January 16, 2020 in Hamilton, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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Although it's unknown which team will have the No. 1 pick in the draft, with the standings not finalized since the 2019-20 season is suspended and not yet canceled, it's likely that Alexis Lafreniere will be the first player selected at this year's event.

The 18-year-old left winger has excelled in both QMJHL and international play, as he led Canada to the gold medal at the world junior championships earlier this year. For Rimouski, he used his incredible skill set to tally 112 points (35 goals and 77 assists) in 52 games.

As ESPN's Chris Peters points out, Lafreniere "does all of the little things well, has tremendous skill and plays with edge." So in addition to the impressive stats Lafreniere puts up, he's also an intelligent hockey player who can make those on the ice with him better.

It shouldn't take long for Lafreniere, who is 6'1" and 192 pounds, to get into game action for an NHL team in 2020-21. And based on what he's shown throughout his career to this point, he could make a quick impact as a rookie.

     

Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)

After tallying 143 points (61 goals and 82 assists) over the last two seasons for Sudbury, Quinton Byfield has put himself in position to potentially be the first center taken in the 2020 draft.

The Athletic's Scott Wheeler noted a few concerns in Byfield's game, such as his defensive play, but for the most part, the 17-year-old center has game-changing abilities.

"He can play with pace, he's dangerous in tight, he can score from mid-distance with his release, he's extremely hard to take the puck off and he's an excellent playmaker for his size, routinely making plays through defenders that some high-skill smaller players even tend to struggle with," Wheeler wrote.

Not only does Byfield possess those skills, but he has great size at 6'4" and 214 pounds. His natural talent and physical ability give him a chance to likely get on the ice soon for an NHL team.

     

Tim Stutzle, C/W, Adler Mannheim (DEL)

Tim Stutzle is less of a traditional center and could fill a flexible role for an NHL team. And he likely won't be waiting long to come off the board once this year's draft begins.

One of the top European players in the draft class, Stutzle had a solid showing in the German top division this season. Over 41 games, he had seven goals and 27 assists in his first season for Adler Mannheim.

Steve Kournianos of Sporting News praises Stutzle's "lethality and versatility as a goal-scoring winger with a deadly shot," while noting that the 18-year-old "has the capability to put on a show every time he hits the ice."

Another one of Stutzle's most valuable assets is his speed. Because of that, he could immediately be a valuable asset for an NHL team while continuing to improve and develop as he gains experience in the league.