NHL Mock Draft 2020: Latest Predictions for Prospects on the Rise

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 16, 2020

PLYMOUTH, MI - DECEMBER 12: Jake Sanderson #48 of the U.S. Nationals controls the puck in the second period against the Switzerland Nationals during day-2 of game two of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament at USA Hockey Arena on December 12, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. USA defeated Switzerland 3-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Jake Sanderson has gone from a borderline top-10 pick in the 2020 NHL draft to a potential top-five selection and possibly the first defenseman off the board over the last few months. 

The American defender was one of the biggest risers in the final draft rankings from NHL central scouting, as he went from No. 11 to No. 4 on the list of North American skaters. 

In addition to Sanderson, a few other prospects made significant jumps to put them on the first-round radar. 

Three players in the North American top 30 experienced double-digit leaps from their previous positions, including one player who rose 20 positions and could turn into a first-round selection because of that.


NHL Draft Prospects On the Rise

Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18

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PLYMOUTH, MI - DECEMBER 11: Jake Sanderson #48 of the U.S. Nationals follows the play against the Slovakia Nationals during game two of day one of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on December 11, 2018 in Plymouth, Michiga
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Sanderson was already in line to be the first American off the board because of the abundance of Canadians and international prospects at the top of the draft class. 

After his boost in the latest central scouting rankings, a case could be made for him landing in the top five and being selected ahead of Jamie Drysdale, who is the other top defensive prospect.

He was listed as high as No. 5 in the latest mock draft from NHL.com's experts, with Drysdale going a pick or two ahead of him.

The 17-year-old, who is committed to North Dakota, produced 29 points over 47 games for the USA U-18 squad and he earned the honor of captaining the squad. 

Sanderson should impress NHL personnel with his mobility, and he brings a powerful left-handed shot to the offense. 

The seven-spot movement in the final rankings is significant because of his positioning. 

One other skater from North America and Europe moved more than two spots in the top 10. Swedish defenseman Helge Grans went from No. 21 to No. 6 on the European skater list. 

Anaheim has made an investment in first-round forwards over the last four years, so it would make sense for it to add a top defenseman to its prospect pool.

Ottawa may also be in the mix for a point player because it has two first-round picks, and if the lottery goes to chalk, it could choose Quinton Byfield at No. 2 and then either Sanderson or Drysdale at No. 3.

If Sanderson does not land in the top five, Montreal and Chicago could be fits at the bottom half of the top 10.

Prediction: No. 5 overall


Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL)

KELOWNA, BC - FEBRUARY 8: Seth Jarvis #24 of the Portland Winterhawks warms up on the ice against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 8, 2020 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

A 98-point season in the WHL propelled Seth Jarvis from No. 19 to No. 11 on the North American skater rankings.

The 18-year-old Canadian center produced 42 goals and 56 assists in 58 games for the Portland Winterhawks.

Jarvis' scoring ability and the high demand for centers in the draft could vault him as high as the top 15. 

Portland head coach Mike Johnston broke down what Jarvis will bring to the next level when talking to NHL.com's Adam Kimelman.

"He does everything at full speed and he can really skate," Johnston said. "He's got quick hands, he's got quick feet, he drives the net at full speed, he attacks defenders at full speed. And he's got good vision."

In 2019, five centers were chosen in the top 10 and six more were taken from No. 11 to No. 31. 

If a similar trend comes to fruition, Jarvis could be in position for a top-20 selection at minimum, as he is the fifth-best North American center and there are two European centers listed as top-10 skaters. 

Prediction: No. 16 overall


Tyson Foerster, RW, Barrie (OHL) 

HAMILTON, ON - JANUARY 16:  Tyson Foerster #71 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

Tyson Foerster could be one of the top beneficiaries from the final central scouting rankings. 

The right winger from the Barrie Colts in the OHL went from No. 41 to No. 21 on the list of North American skaters.

Foerster forced a move up the board with an 80-point campaign that featured 36 goals and 44 assists. 

Two of the three experts that participated in NHL.com's latest mock draft have the 18-year-old landing at No. 26 and No. 28. 

Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington could be among the teams interested in Foerster, who is the fourth-rated right winger coming out of the North American ranks. 

If Foerster's scoring ability translates to the highest level of the sport, he could be viewed as a great value selection when the draft is re-evaluated in a few years. 

Prediction: No. 25 overall


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from EliteProspects.com