NHL Draft 2020: Predicting Where Elite Talent Will Land in 1st-Round Mock Draft

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2020

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

The Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators have the best odds to land the top talent in the 2020 NHL draft.

While the Red Wings possess the worst regular-season point total, the Senators have two chances to land the No. 1 overall pick. Ottawa owns its natural pick and is in possession of the San Jose Sharks' first-rounder, which gives it the second- and third-best odds to earn the top selection.

The prize for the lottery winner is Canadian left winger Alexis Lafreniere, who has separated himself from the rest of the draft class with standout performances with Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Canada on the international stage.


NHL 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Detroit Red Wings: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

2. Ottawa Senators: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL) 

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose): Tim Stutzle, C/LW, Adler Mannheim (Germany)

4. Los Angeles Kings: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (Sweden)

5. Anaheim Ducks: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL) 

6. New Jersey Devils: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)

7. Buffalo Sabres: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (Sweden)

8. Montreal Canadiens: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Finland) 

9. Chicago Blackhawks: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL) 

10. New Jersey Devils: Yaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St. Petersburg (Russia) 

11. Minnesota Wild: Jake Sanderson, D, United States U-18

12. Winnipeg Jets: Dawson Mercer, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)

13. New York Rangers: Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (Sweden) 

14. Florida Panthers: Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL) 

15. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin

16. Calgary Flames: Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL) 

17. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver): Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL)

18. Nashville Predators: Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (Russia)

19. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto): Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL) 

20. Edmonton Oilers: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL) 

21. Ottawa Senators (from New York Islanders): William Wallander, D, Modo Jr. (Sweden)

22. Dallas Stars: Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL) 

23. New York Rangers (from Carolina): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

24. Minnesota Wild (from Pittsburgh): Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL)

25. Philadelphia Flyers: Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 

26. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay): Ryan O'Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 

27. Colorado Avalanche: Jan Mysak, LW, Hamilton (OHL) 

28. Vegas Golden Knights: Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Ufa (Russia)

29. Washington Capitals: Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL) 

30. St. Louis Blues: Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL) 

31. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston): Roni Hirvonen, C, Assat (Finland) 


Top Prospects

Alexis Lafreniere

Lafreniere has made a name for himself over the past two years with Rimouski and Canada's U20 squad. 

His most notable achievement to date is winning the Most Valuable Player award at the IIHF World Junior Championship. That performance solidified his position atop draft boards in the eyes of NHL.com's Adam Kimelman: "Lafreniere's MVP performance for Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship showed why the 18-year-old forward (6'1", 196 pounds) is the most talented player available and the no-doubt No. 1 choice."

Detroit has secured the odds for the No. 1 pick since it has 39 points from 71 games, which is 23 fewer points than Ottawa possesses. However, that does not guarantee the Red Wings will top the draft order when the event takes place.

A year ago, the New Jersey Devils won the draft lottery despite finishing with the third-worst record, while Ottawa dropped to No. 4 with the worst regular-season mark.

Lafreniere will bring an excellent scoring prowess to whichever team he ends up with, as he produced 112 points with Rimouski this season. 

Detroit and Ottawa could use the winger as a building block as part of a strong offseason since they have the most salary-cap space available, per Spotrac. Lafreniere will not single-handedly return either franchise to prominence next season, but he could help them to take a step in the right direction.


Quinton Byfield

Missing out on Lafreniere could be tough to swallow for the Red Wings if they drop to No. 2, but they could still land Quinton Byfield.

If the lottery goes to chalk and Ottawa has the second overall pick, it would almost certainly add the Canadian center before selecting another top prospect.

Byfield did not produce at a high clip like Lafreniere this past season, but he still earned 82 points for the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League, which was an upgrade of 21 points from the previous year.

NHL.com's Guillaume Lepage broke down Byfield's game more in January as part of a mock draft, which had two experts predict him to go No. 2: "He may be one of the youngest players in the 2020 draft class—he turned 17 on Aug. 19—but Byfield also is one of the most imposing and complete. He offers an excellent blend of speed, skill and strength."

Byfield's top competition for the No. 2 pick is German Tim Stutzle, who can play each of the three forward positions.

If Ottawa earns the No. 2 and No. 3 selections, it will not have to make a tough decision given it can choose both.

The difficult choice may lie with the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks or New Jersey Devils if the lottery goes in their favor.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Elite Prospects.