NHL Draft 2020: Analyzing Expert Predictions for Byfield, Stutzle, Top ProspectsMay 12, 2020
The Ottawa Senators should come away from the 2020 NHL draft with two premier prospects.
If the Senators land at No. 2 and No. 3, they could bolster their forward line with center Quinton Byfield and winger Tim Stutzle, who are expected to be the second and third forwards off the board behind consensus No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere.
Ottawa could also go after a defenseman with one of its two selections, and if that is the case, Jamie Drysdale could find himself in the top three on draft night.
If a team such as the Los Angeles Kings jumps Ottawa in the lottery, there could be an increased chance of Byfield and Stutzle both landing in the top three if the best player available method is applied.
Expert Predictions For Top Prospects
Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
Byfield carries the advantage of playing the most coveted position in the NHL draft.
At least one center has been selected in the top three in each of the last five drafts, and the 17-year-old could end up as the cornerstone of Ottawa's draft class.
Two of three NHL.com writers who participated in a mock draft exercise have Byfield landing at No. 2 to the Senators, who have the second-worst point total in the NHL behind the Detroit Red Wings.
NBC Sports Boston's Joe Haggerty also has Byfield landing at No. 2, and he noted that the Canadian has been compared to Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Byfield produced 143 points in two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Sudbury Wolves. He increased his point total by 21 from the 2018-19 campaign to this season.
In both seasons, he recorded more assists than goals and achieved a higher point this season in 19 fewer games than the prior campaign.
Since 2014, the Senators have used their first draft pick on a center on two occasions. They chose three in the latter rounds in 2019, but none of those players would make an immediate impact like Byfield.
If there are no surprises in the lottery, the Senators would then have a decision to make between Stutzle and Drysdale with the No. 3 pick they acquired from the San Jose Sharks.
Tim Stutzle, LW, Adler Mannheim (Germany)
Stutzle's scoring prowess could be enticing for the Senators to add to Byfield.
The 18-year-old recorded 34 points in 41 games in his first season with Adler Mannheim's senior team.
NHL.com's Adam Kimelman cited Stutzle's experience with the German club as one of the reasons why he should land at No. 3.
Selecting two forwards in a row could be viewed as a risk for Ottawa since it needs more production from its defensemen.
One defender ranks in the top 10 of the team's scoring chart, and if the Senators feel like they will not be able to land Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug or another premier defenseman in free agency, they could turn to the draft to fix that issue.
Ottawa could feel more comfortable exploring options on the forward free-agent market to bolster its depth around Brady Tkachuk, Bobby Ryan and others.
If the Senators opt for Drysdale at No. 3, Stutzle should land at No. 4 with the Los Angeles Kings, who have had a focus on forwards at the top of their recent draft classes.
Haggerty and NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale both have Stutzle falling to the Kings. If he drops past No. 4, it would be a huge surprise and would allow the Anaheim Ducks or New Jersey Devils to steal a top talent at No. 5.
Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
Drysdale is the top defenseman and the No. 3 North American skater in the NHL central scouting rankings.
Haggerty, Moreale and NHL.com's Guillaume Lepage projected the 18-year-old from the OHL's Erie Otters as the third pick overall.
Kimelman was the only expert of the four to have Drysdale fall out of the top three and down to Anaheim at No. 5.
Drysdale put together back-to-back 40-point seasons for Erie. He had nine goals and 38 assists this season.
It would be hard to complain about Ottawa's draft if it comes away with the top center and top defenseman at the start of what could be a busy offseason.
If the Senators go with two forwards, the Kings could take a defenseman in the first round for the first time since 2010.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from EliteProspects.com and Hockey Reference.