The NHL has been suspended since March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has created uncertainty across the sports world. The situation has also affected the league's draft, which has yet to be rearranged after originally being scheduled for late June.
However, that doesn't change the fact that this year's class is filled with talented players who are set to make an impact in the league. When the draft takes place, players such as Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle are poised to go off the board quickly.
Here's a look at how the first round of this year's draft could unfold, with details of the draft lottery yet to be announced.
NHL Mock Draft, 1st Round
1. Detroit: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
2. Ottawa: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
3. Ottawa (via San Jose): Tim Stutzle, C/LW, Adler Mannheim (DNL U20)
4. Los Angeles: Jamie Drysdale, RHD, Erie (OHL)
5. Anaheim: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
6. New Jersey: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (SHL)
7. Buffalo: Cole Perfetti, C/LW, Saginaw (OHL)
8. Montreal: Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (SHL)
9. Chicago: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)
10. New Jersey (via Arizona): Yaroslav Askarov, G, Ska-Varyagi (MHL)
11. Minnesota: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL)
12. Winnipeg: Jake Sanderson, LHD, USA U18 (NTDP)
13. N.Y. Rangers: Dylan Holloway, C, University of Wisconsin
14. Florida: Noel Gunler, LW, Lulea (SHL)
15. Columbus: Braden Schneider, RHD, Brandon (WHL)
16. Calgary: Dawson Mercer, RW, Drummondville (QMJHL)
17. New Jersey (via Vancouver): Jeremie Poirier, LHD, Saint John (QMJHL)
18. Nashville: Jack Quinn, RW/LW, Ottawa (OHL)
19. Carolina (via Toronto): Rodion Amirov, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
20. Edmonton: Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)
21. Ottawa (via N.Y. Islanders): Lukas Cormier, LHD, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
22. Dallas: Jan Mysak, C, Hamilton (OHL)
23. N.Y. Rangers (via Carolina): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
24. Minnesota (via Pittsburgh): Emil Andrae, LHD, HV71 J20 (SHL)
25. Philadelphia: Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
26. San Jose (via Tampa Bay): Roni Hirvonen, C, Assat (SM-Liiga)
27. Colorado: Zion Nybeck, RW, HV71 J20 (SHL)
28. Vegas: Antonio Stranges, C/LW, London (OHL)
29. Washington: Vasili Ponomaryov, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
30. St. Louis: Thomas Bordeleau, C, USA U18 (NTDP)
31. Anaheim (via Boston): Kaiden Guhle, LHD, Prince Albert (WHL)
Stutzle Poised to Be 1st European Off the Board
While German left winger Tim Stutzle isn't likely to be the first player selected in this year's draft, he is expected to be the first European to be picked. And it wouldn't be a surprise if he's off the board within the first three selections.
A speedy 18-year-old who faced top competition while playing for Adler Mannheim in the DEL, Stutzle has the potential to become a strong NHL player in the years to come. NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale describes Stutzle as "a hard-working left-handed shot who is capable of playing all situations with speed, great vision and some swagger."
It's possible that Stutzle will begin his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators, who have three first-round picks, including their own and the San Jose Sharks'. That means there's a good chance that Ottawa could own two of the first three selections in the draft.
The Senators, who rank 23rd in goals scored this season, could be looking for talented offensive players. With Ottawa being active early and Stutzle having impressed over the past year, don't be surprised to see him join the Senators if they land the second or third pick.
D-Man Drysdale Could Go in Top 5
The draft may start with a few talented offensive players getting selected, but it shouldn't be long before the first defenseman comes off the board. That's because Jamie Drysdale projects to make an impact in the NHL sooner rather than later.
One potential fit for the 18-year-old could be the Los Angeles Kings, who owned the fourth-worst record in the NHL when the season was suspended. The Athletic's Lisa Dillman believes L.A. could use defensive help to support veteran Drew Doughty, so she wouldn't be surprised to see the team draft Drysdale.
"They've done an excellent job of restocking the pipeline up front, so it's time to turn attention to this particular area," Dillman wrote.
Over the past two seasons, Drysdale has tallied 87 points (16 goals and 71 assists) in 112 games for the Erie Otters of the OHL. If he can maintain that level of production once he reaches the NHL, he would be an integral part of the Kings defense for years.
What Will Devils Do with Trio of 1st-Round Picks?
The Senators aren't the only team that owns three first-round selections in this year's draft. The New Jersey Devils also have a trio of picks in the opening round and, with them, the opportunity to add several more potential building blocks for the franchise after selecting No. 1 overall twice in the past three years.
When the NHL season was suspended, New Jersey was on its way to missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. The only time the Devils have reached the postseason during that span came in the 2017-18 season, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round in five games. They traded that season's MVP, Taylor Hall, in December, so they could use an influx of new talent to help them get back on track.
Fortunately for New Jersey, it will have several opportunities to do so in the first round as it also owns the selections originally belonging to the Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks, though the latter's pick depends on whether they qualify for the postseason. But with the Yotes outside the playoff picture and their pick only top-three protected, it's possible that two of its picks will land within the first 10 selections.
One player the Devils could target with their first pick is Swedish right winger Alexander Holtz, whom Morreale described as "a pure goal scorer with a great selection of shots." Perhaps Holtz will head to New Jersey and develop into a top scoring threat on the wing of either Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier.