2020 NHL Mock Draft: Breaking Down Predictions for Jamie Drysdale, Top ProspectsMay 20, 2020
Jamie Drysdale may find himself in a position few defensemen have been in recently.
In the last five NHL drafts, only two defensemen have been selected in the top three, but the Canadian prospect could add to that list.
The driving factor behind that could be the two picks that belong to the Ottawa Senators, who could opt to take a forward and defenseman at No. 2 and No. 3.
However, there are a few forwards deserving of top-three recognition, including projected No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield, and they could keep Drysdale out of the top three.
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): Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
4. Los Angeles Kings: Tim Stutzle, C/LW, Adler Mannheim (Germany)
5. Anaheim Ducks: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
6. New Jersey Devils: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (Sweden)
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)
Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
Drysdale is the third-ranked skater and top-rated defender from North America in the NHL central scouting rankings.
He could be selected directly after Lafreniere and Byfield, who are first and second among North American prospects.
If Ottawa lands the No. 2 and No. 3 picks, they could be inclined to land Byfield and Drysdale in an attempt to bolster both parts of its roster.
In the last four years, the Senators have used their first selection on three forwards and one defenseman, and it only has four point men under contract for next season.
The Eastern Conference side could eventually partner Drysdale with 2015 first-round pick Thomas Chabot, who is a goal or assist away from his second straight 40-point season.
Drysdale produced 87 points in two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Erie Otters.
NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale noted the 18-year-old's shot and on-ice intelligence as two of the factors that could make him the top defenseman and the No. 3 overall pick.
"The 5-11, 175-pound right-hand shot is capable of driving play with his skating and elite hockey sense," he wrote.
If Drysdale finds himself in the top three, he would join Miro Heiskanen, who went third to Dallas in 2017, and 2018 first-overall pick Rasmus Dahlin as the only defensemen to land that high since 2015.
There is a chance Ottawa goes after German forward Tim Stutzle with its second selection, and if that happens, Drysdale could drop to the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks.
Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
While defensemen have not been frequent top picks of late, centers have. Byfield is in line to be the 10th at that position chosen in the top three since 2015.
The 17-year-old could be the first of two selections by the Senators, as long as the draft lottery does not feature any surprises.
Byfield increased his scoring tally by 21 points in his second season with the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL. He also earned a spot on Canada's under-20 team, but he managed a single point in seven games while Lafreniere thrived.
The international performance and high volume of points differentiates Lafreniere from Byfield, but that does not mean the center can't thrive in the NHL.
NHL.com's Adam Kimelman compared Byfield to Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Byfield has everything a rebuilding team seeks: Great size (6-4, 215) and a tremendous skater whose skill set is reminiscent of Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin. As good as Byfield is now, he still can add strength and go from outstanding to elite," he wrote.
Byfield is taller and heavier than each of the top 10 skaters from North America and Europe, and he even has an advantage on some of the top goalie prospects.
If Ottawa advances his scoring skills over the next few years, he could turn into one of the elite physical presences in the league.
Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
The easiest decision of the draft will come at the top.
Lafreniere is the most dynamic scorer in the draft class, after totaling 72 goals in two seasons with Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
In total, the 18-year-old put up 217 regular-season points in two years and 23 more over 13 playoff contests last season.
Lafreniere solidified his status as the top prospect with 10 points over five games for Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
TSN's Craig Button described the Canadian as "more than ready" to take on the NHL, per TSN's Darren Yourk.
"He doesn't rely on one area of the game to be successful," Button said. "He can make plays, he can score, he can play in traffic and is determined to be in the guts of the action. With his physical maturity, he’s more than ready to handle the challenges and rigors of the NHL."
The Detroit Red Wings carry the best odds for the No. 1 overall pick, and they could use Lafreniere as one of the cornerstones of their rebuild.
If Detroit does not win the lottery, Ottawa has the best odds to take the top pick since it currently owns the second- and third-best odds by way of its natural pick and the one acquired from the San Jose Sharks.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from EliteProspects.com