NHL Mock Draft 2020: Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Full Round 1 Picks

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2020

HAMILTON, ON - JANUARY 16:  Alexis Lafreniere #11 of Team White skates during warm up for 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

Alexis Lafreniere has been the expected No. 1 selection in the 2020 NHL draft since the moment last year's draft ended, and there's still no reason to believe he'll relinquish the top spot.

The rest of the first round is far more up for debate as teams, players and fans await the remainder of the 2019-20 season. The campaign is delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the draft has also been postponed until the NHL can rework the schedule.

With that in mind, let's check out predictions for all 31 picks in the opening round. The order is based on the Tankathon's projected order. The projections are followed by a closer look at the top choices.

         

First-Round NHL Mock Draft

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

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

3. Ottawa Senators (via SJ): Lucas Raymond, F, Frolunda (SHL)

4. Los Angeles Kings: Tim Stutzle, F, Adler Mannheim (DEL)

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

6. New Jersey Devils: Alexander Holtz, F, Djurgardens (SHL)

7. Buffalo Sabres: Marco Rossi, F, Ottawa (OHL)

8. Montreal Canadiens: Anton Lundell, F, HIFK (FEL)

9. Chicago Blackhawks: Jake Sanderson, D, USNTDP (USHL)

10. New Jersey Devils (via ARZ): Cole Perfetti, F, Saginaw (OHL)

11. Minnesota Wild: Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-1946 (MHL)

12. Winnipeg Jets: Dylan Holloway, F, Wisconsin (NCAA)

13. New York Rangers: Dawson Mercer, F, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

14. Florida Panthers: Jack Quinn, F, Ottawa (OHL)

15. Columbus Blue Jackets: Connor Zary, F, Kamloops (WHL)

16. Calgary Flames: Hendrix Lapierre, F, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

17. New Jersey Devils (via VAN): Noel Gunler, F, Lulea (SHL)

18. Nashville Predators: Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL)

19. Carolina Hurricanes (via TOR): Mavrik Bourque, F, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

20. Edmonton Oilers: Jan Mysak, F, Hamilton (OHL)

21. Ottawa Senators (via NYI): Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL)

22. Dallas Stars: Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL)

23. New York Rangers (via CAR): Rodion Amirov, F, Salavat (KHL)

24. Minnesota Wild (via PIT): Tyson Foerster, F, Barrie (OHL)

25. Philadelphia Flyers: Emil Andrae, D, HV71 (SHL)

26. San Jose Sharks (via TB): Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)

27. Colorado Avalanche: Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)

28. Vegas Golden Knights: Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)

29. Washington Capitals: Ryan O'Rourke, D, Soo (OHL)

30. St. Louis Blues: Roni Hirvonen, F, Assat (FEL)

31. Anaheim Ducks (via BOS): Ridly Greig, F, Brandon (WHL)

               

Breaking Down Top Selections

1. Detroit Red Wings: Alexis Lafreniere

The Wings are 23 points behind the NHL's second-worst team (Ottawa), and they're on pace for one of the worst seasons in league history. In turn, there's no doubt about which franchise needs Lafreniere most in order to turn the corner as part of its a complete teardown and rebuild.

He's a dynamic winger with all the tools to immediately become a top-20 scorer at the sport's highest level. He posted 105 points (37 goals and 68 assists) in 61 games for Rimouski in 2018-19 and was on an even more torrid pace, 112 points (35 goals and 77 assists) in 52 contests, this season.

Lafreniere, 18, was disappointed the QMJHL season was cut short by the coronavirus because he felt the Oceanic were legitimate title contenders in the Memorial Cup chase.

"For sure it was tough news for me and all the team," he told John Wawrow of the Associated Press. "I think we had a great team this year and we believed that we could do something special for sure. It's a little bit sad. But we have to make sure that everyone is doing their best staying healthy."

Lafreniere would slot in perfectly alongside Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha on Detroit's top line. The rest of the lineup still needs ample upgrades before the Wings would make a postseason return, but that trio could instantly become one of the league's most exciting lines.

Now the Red Wings just need some lottery luck to make it reality.

                

2. Ottawa Senators: Quinton Byfield

Byfield endured a lackluster showing in the 2020 World Junior Championships with no goals and one assist in seven appearances for Canada. While the performance probably ended his hopes of chasing down Lafreniere for the top spot, his overall track record is still tremendous.

The 17-year-old center recorded 82 points (32 goals and 50 assists) in 45 appearances for Sudbury this season. Those numbers paired with his already-prototypical frame (6'4", 215 lbs) gives him the foundation to develop into a top-line center.

He's not quite as advanced as Lafreniere, though. He'd likely start his NHL career in the middle six for the Senators, which would give 2015 first-round pick Colin White another year to prove himself on the Sens' top line. The OHL standout will move up the lineup once he becomes accustomed to the speed.

Byfield may never become a 100-point scorer in the NHL, but he should hover around a point-per-game pace as a physical, two-way impact centerman.

                

3. Ottawa Senators: Lucas Raymond

This is where the draft's intrigue starts to increase with far less certainty about the rankings outside of the top two. Raymond makes sense as a target for Ottawa if it wants a prospect close to NHL-ready.

The winger spent most of last season with Frolunda's U-20 squad but made the jump to the senior roster for a majority of the 2019-20 campaign. The scoring was a bit slow to come along (10 points in 33 games), but he held his own in a league with older, more experienced opponents.

An interesting tactic for the Senators should they ultimately land two top-five picks from the lottery would be selecting a pair of forwards, putting them on the second or third line together and letting them gain chemistry before moving up the depth chart together in the years ahead.

In this case, Byfield and Raymond could eventually join Brady Tkachuk to form a great offensive top line that could even be trusted to hold a late lead thanks to the group's two-way ability.

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