Every NHL team wants the prospect who fits their program seamlessly. Every prospect wants to end up on a team that gives them the best chance to succeed in the long run. Finding that perfect match isn't always easy.
But below we'll try, playing matchmaker to go along with a first-round mock draft. The event may play out differently, but it's still worth examining where some of the top talents might fit best.
1. Detroit Red Wings: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski
2. Ottawa Senators: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury
3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose): Tim Stutzle, LW, Mannheim
4. Los Angeles Kings: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie
5. Anaheim Ducks: Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda
6. New Jersey Devils: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa
7. Buffalo Sabres: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens
8. Montreal Canadiens: Cole Perfetti, LW, Saginaw
9. Chicago Blackhawks: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK
10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona): Yaroslav Askarov, G, Ska-Varyagi
11. Minnesota Wild: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa
12. Winnipeg Jets: Jake Sanderson, D, NDTP
13. New York Rangers: Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin
14. Florida Panthers: Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert
15. Columbus Blue Jackets: Braden Schneider, D, Brandon
16. Calgary Flames: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops
17. New Jersey Devils (via Vancouver): Noel Gunler, LW, Lulea
18. Nashville Predators: Dawson Mercer, RW, Drummondville
19. Carolina Hurricanes (via Toronto): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan
20. Edmonton Oilers: Jan Mysak, C, Litvinov
21. Ottawa Senators (via New York Islanders): Ryan O'Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie
22. Dallas Stars: Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown
23. New York Rangers (via Carolina): Rodion Amirov, LW, Tolpar Ufa
24. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh): Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi
25. Philadelphia Flyers: Justin Barron, D, Halifax
26. San Jose Sharks (via Tampa Bay): Seth Jarvis, C, Portland
27. Colorado Avalanche: William Wallinder, D, Modo Jr
28. Vegas Golden Knights: Jacob Perreault, RW, Sarnia
29. Washington Capitals: Brendan Brisson, C, Chicago
30. St. Louis Blues: Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John
31. Anaheim Ducks (via Boston): Tyson Foerster, RW, Barrie
Alexis Lafreniere is going to be the top overall pick regardless of which team lands it, but the Detroit Red Wings would be a pretty good fit. Lafreniere could pick the brain of general manager and legendary Red Wings center Steve Yzerman.
And playing with a promising young center like Dylan Larkin wouldn't hurt.
On the other side, playing alongside a veteran like Anze Kopitar with the Los Angeles Kings would be beneficial.
But in the perfect world for Lafreniere from an on-ice perspective, he would land with the New Jersey Devils, combining with 2019 No. 1 pick Jack Hughes to give the team a devastating one-two punch for the future. Hughes' seven goals and 21 points this season don't exactly scream "future superstar," but he's only 18.
He still oozes potential, like Lafreniere. That duo could dominate the NHL if they both realize their potential, forming quite the pairing for the future.
Of course, there's something about being a star forward in Detroit that is just special. A lot of legends have donned that uniform. So perhaps Lafreniere would prefer the Red Wings. It will all come down to the NHL draft lottery, whenever that takes place.
The Ottawa Senators would love to land the top overall pick to nab Lafreniere. But if that doesn't happen, ending up with the Nos. 2 and 3 selections is ideal. And for Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle, pairing together with the Senators could be dynamic.
Imagine them on the same line, harassing opposing blueliners and goalies for the next decade. NHL Central Scouting compared Byfield to Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Stutzle to New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (h/t Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com). This season, those two NHL stars have combined to score 134 points.
Stutzle's skating, puck-handling and creation would combine nicely with Byfield's size, superb hands and scoring instincts.
The chance to develop together in Ottawa alongside other promising young forwards like Drake Batherson, Logan Brown and Alex Formenton would be an ideal scenario for both players. It would also be two exciting additions for an Ottawa team that last reached the postseason in the 2016-17 season.
Jamie Drysdale falling to the Kings at No. 4 would be perfect for a team in need of young and talented blueliners.
The Kings have plenty of exciting young forwards—notably Alex Turcotte, Gabe Vilardi, Akil Thomas, Tyler Madden, Rasmus Kupari and Aidan Dudas—so they are covered there. Arthur Kaliyev and Samuel Fagemo, meanwhile, are solid on the wing. But none of their young defenders are on the level of Drysdale, who would be more than likely given the opportunity to work his way up to the big club fairly quickly.
That may also give him the chance to learn under Drew Doughty, a Norris Trophy-winning four-time All-Star. It's hard to imagine a young player like Drysdale complaining about that opportunity.