NHL Draft 2020: Projected Order of Picks, Expert Mocks and Top Prospects

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2020

Canada's Alexis Lafreniere celebrates after winning the U20 Ice Hockey Worlds gold medal match between Canada and Russia in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

The 2020 NHL draft, like many events on the sports schedule, is hanging in limbo during the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 25, the league announced the draft, NHL Scouting Combine and Bridgestone NHL Awards were all postponed until later dates to be determined in the future. The 2019-20 season is still suspended with no return date finalized, meaning those events, scheduled for June 26-27, June 1-6 and June 18, respectively, have also been pushed back.

There is still plenty of coverage for the draft, with so many highly regarded prospects set to enter the next stage of their careers. With that in mind, here is a look at the projected order of picks, a handful of mock drafts and some of the top players available.

                             

Projected Order of Picks

1. Detroit Red Wings

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2. Ottawa Senators

3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks)

4. Los Angeles Kings 

5. Anaheim Ducks

6. New Jersey Devils

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Montreal Canadiens

9. Chicago Blackhawks

10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona Coyotes)

11. Minnesota Wild

12. Winnipeg Jets

13. New York Rangers

14. Florida Panthers

15. Columbus Blue Jackets

16. Calgary Flames

17. New Jersey Devils (via Vancouver Canucks)

18. Nashville Predators

19. Carolina Hurricanes (via Toronto Maple Leafs)

20. Edmonton Oilers

21. Ottawa Senators (via New York Islanders)

22. Dallas Stars

23. New York Rangers (via Carolina Hurricanes)

24. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh Penguins)

25. Philadelphia Flyers

26. San Jose Sharks (via Tampa Bay Lightning)

27. Colorado Avalanche

28. Vegas Golden Knights

29. Washington Capitals

30. St. Louis Blues

31. Anaheim Ducks (via Boston Bruins)

The projected order of picks is per Tankathon, as of Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

               

Expert Mock Picks

There are a number of mock drafts circulating online with the season on hiatus.

Here are the top 10 projected picks from Tankathon and NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Guillaume Lepage. The NHL.com mocks are from Monday, while the Tankathon mock draft is from Tuesday. 

               

Tankathon

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

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

3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks): Tim Stuetzle, LW, Mannheim (GER)

4. Los Angeles Kings: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)

5. Anaheim Ducks: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL)

6. New Jersey Devils: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)

7. Buffalo Sabres: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SWE)

8. Montreal Canadiens: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)

9. Chicago Blackhawks: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (FIN)

10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona Coyotes): Yaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St. Petersburg (RUS-2)

            

Adam Kimelman 

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

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

3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks): Tim Stuetzle, LW, Mannheim (GER)

4. Los Angeles Kings: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)

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

6. New Jersey Devils: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SWE)

7. Buffalo Sabres: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)

8. Montreal Canadiens: Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18

9. Chicago Blackhawks: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona Coyotes): Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (FIN)

           

Mike G. Morreale 

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

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

3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks): Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)

4. Los Angeles Kings: Tim Stuetzle, LW, Mannheim (GER)

5. Anaheim Ducks: Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18

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

7. Buffalo Sabres: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)

8. Montreal Canadiens: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

9. Chicago Blackhawks: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SWE)

10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona Coyotes): Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL)

         

Guillaume Lepage

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

2. Ottawa Senators: Tim Stuetzle, LW, Mannheim (GER)

3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks): Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)

4. Los Angeles Kings: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)

5. Anaheim Ducks: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)

6. New Jersey Devils: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL)

7. Buffalo Sabres: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)

8. Montreal Canadiens: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SWE)

9. Chicago Blackhawks: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (FIN)

10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona Coyotes): Yaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St. Petersburg

                 

Top Prospects 

Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

The mock drafts make one thing clear: Alexis Lafreniere is the clear-cut No. 1 pick in this year's draft.

The left-winger is a magician with the puck on his stick, and he has the ability to create open looks for his teammates in transition and on set plays. He used that skill set to win tournament MVP for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship and to score 112 points (35 goals and 77 assists) in a mere 52 games in the QMJHL.

While he isn't going to score triple-figure point totals in 52 games against NHL competition, at least not right away, that is the type of offensive production that can help a struggling franchise turn things around in a short period of time.

Few teams need Lafreniere as much as the Detroit Red Wings, who are a mere 17-49-5 this season and haven't made the playoffs since the 2015-16 campaign. That is a far cry from the 25 straight seasons they made the playoffs from 1990-91 until 2015-16, especially considering they won four Stanley Cup titles in that span.

Reviving a legendary franchise that has fallen on hard times will be a heavy responsibility for Lafreniere, but he is better equipped to handle it than any other prospect in this draft.

                     

Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)

There is slightly less consensus for the No. 2 pick than the No. 1, but not by much.

Three of the four mocks have center Quinton Byfield coming off the board with the No. 2 pick, while Lepage pegs him as the No. 4 selection.

Corey Pronman of The Athletic explained why the high-scoring forward is so highly regarded:

"Byfield's 68 game pace was 48 goals and 124 points. When you talk about the best U18 seasons in the OHL of the modern era—Mitch Marner, Tyler Seguin, Steven Stamkos, Dylan Strome, even John Tavares—Byfield's campaign is right in that mix. He did that as one of the youngest players in the draft class as an August 2002 birth date. His underage season wasn't as dominant as some of the best U17 seasons ever, but it was still extremely impressive."

Byfield's heavy shot stands out, which should play well on power-play units and on breakaways. His speed and physicality will also help him create those breakaway looks, and he is a capable enough passer to accumulate impressive assist totals as well.

The Ottawa Senators can use that type of offense considering they are a mere 25th in the league in goals per game this season at 2.68.

If Ottawa lands the No. 2 pick, look for it to bolster its frontline with Byfield.