The winner of the NHL draft lottery should have the easiest decision on draft night.
Canadian left winger Alexis Lafreniere is widely regarded as the top prospect in the draft class, and it would be a major surprise to see him fall out of the top position.
The Detroit Red Wings currently hold the worst record in the NHL, which in turn comes with an 18.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick.
In most years, that would be the largest odds of any team, but the Ottawa Senators' possession of the San Jose Sharks' first-round selection gives them a 25 percent chance to win the lottery from the second- and third-worst marks in the NHL.
If Ottawa vaults Detroit, it could land Lafreniere as the foundation of a draft class that could help turn the fate of its franchise.
2020 NHL 1st-Round Mock Draft
1. Detroit Red Wings: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
2. Ottawa Senators: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose): Tim Stutzle, C/LW, Adler Mannheim (Germany)
4. Los Angeles Kings: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (Sweden)
5. Anaheim Ducks: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
6. New Jersey Devils: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
7. Buffalo Sabres: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (Sweden)
8. Montreal Canadiens: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Finland)
9. Chicago Blackhawks: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)
10. New Jersey Devils: Yaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St. Petersburg (Russia)
11. Minnesota Wild: Jake Sanderson, D, United States U-18
12. Winnipeg Jets: Dawson Mercer, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
13. New York Rangers: Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (Sweden)
14. Florida Panthers: Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL)
15. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin
16. Calgary Flames: Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL)
17. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver): Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL)
18. Nashville Predators: Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (Russia)
19. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto): Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL)
20. Edmonton Oilers: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL)
21. Ottawa Senators (from New York Islanders): William Wallander, D, Modo Jr. (Sweden)
22. Dallas Stars: Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)
23. New York Rangers (from Carolina): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
24. Minnesota Wild (from Pittsburgh): Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
25. Philadelphia Flyers: Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
26. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay): Ryan O'Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
27. Colorado Avalanche: Jan Mysak, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
28. Vegas Golden Knights: Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Ufa (Russia)
29. Washington Capitals: Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL)
30. St. Louis Blues: Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
31. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston): Roni Hirvonen, C, Assat (Finland)
Lafreniere will be the cornerstone of a rebuilding offseason for Detroit, Ottawa or a team that wins the lottery with weaker odds.
The Red Wings have plenty of work to do to get back to playoff contention, but they have a decent young core in place already and have plenty of salary-cap space to work with during the offseason.
Selecting Lafreniere would be a boost to Detroit's depth on the wing behind Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.
Bertuzzi and Mantha are the only wingers that rank in the top nine on the team's scoring chart with 48 and 38 points, respectively.
Lafreniere enters the NHL off back-to-back 100-point seasons for Rimouski. He had 35 goals and 77 assists in the 2019-20 campaign.
Ottawa possesses more wing depth than Detroit, with three of its top four scorers coming from the position.
If the Senators added Lafreniere, they would have a dangerous scoring mix made up of Brady Tkachuk, Anthony Duclair, Connor Brown, Bobby Ryan and the No. 1 overall pick on the wings.
If that occurs, Ottawa may feel secure at forward and go after a defenseman with its second lottery selection.
There is also the chance Ottawa seizes the opportunity to bring in two premier scorers in the top three by selecting Lafreniere and either Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle.
That would be the best-case scenario for Ottawa, but before the team can think about that, it has to leapfrog Detroit whenever the lottery happens.
If there are no shake-ups in the lottery process, Ottawa would still be able to land a forward with a strong attacking prowess in Byfield.
The 18-year-old center increased his point total from 61 to 82 in his second season with the OHL's Sudbury Wolves.
Byfield could fit a more direct need for the Senators at No. 2 since they do have some depth on the wing and traded Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline.
Byfield's draft position likely will not change if the order is shuffled in the lottery process.
The center is viewed as the top player at his position and the No. 2 overall pick on most draft boards because of his scoring ability and physical presence.
Byfield is at least four inches taller than the other centers listed in the Top 20 of the NHL central scouting rankings for North America.
Although he does not score at the high volume Lafreniere does, Byfield would still be a solid selection for a team to build its future around.
Since Detroit and Ottawa have the best odds to land the top three selections, it is likely that he will land in one of those two positions.
There is less of a guarantee that Tim Stutzle will be the third player off the board.
If Ottawa lands No. 2 and No. 3, it could approach the draft in a few different ways.
One strategy would be to choose Byfield and then add the draft's top defenseman to bring in depth on different parts of the ice.
The Senators could also opt to bring in Stutzle and load up their forward line with young scorers, which could then spur a chase of defensemen in free agency.
Stutzle, who is the No. 1 European skater in the NHL central scouting rankings, is listed as a left winger, but he can also play center if called upon.
He produced 34 points in 41 games for Adler Mannheim in Germany, who has sent Leon Draisaitl and Moritz Seider to the NHL in the last decade.
Stutzle could land at No. 3 if Ottawa decides to load up on forwards, or if that pick is awarded to the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks, who have the fourth-and-fifth-worst marks in the NHL.
If he slides out of the top three, Stutzle should not be on the draft board for long because of the offensive production he can bring to the ice.
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