The Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers are going to be busy during the opening round of the 2020 NHL draft. The New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators are going to be even busier.
Those teams have multiple picks in the first round, and the Devils and Senators each have three selections. Their shortlists are bound to feature the same players, but with some of the selections not coming until later in the round, there could be a contrast in the prospects they regard as sleepers.
Here's a mock of how the first round could go, followed by a look at three potential sleeper prospects.
NHL Mock Draft, 1st Round
1. Detroit Red Wings: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
2. Ottawa Senators: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks): Tim Stutzle, C/LW, Adler Mannheim (DNL U20)
4. Los Angeles Kings: Jamie Drysdale, RHD, Erie (OHL)
5. Anaheim Ducks: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
6. New Jersey Devils: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (SHL)
7. Buffalo Sabres: Cole Perfetti, C/LW, Saginaw (OHL)
8. Montreal Canadiens: Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (SHL)
9. Chicago Blackhawks: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)
10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona Coyotes): Yaroslav Askarov, G, Ska-Varyagi (MHL)
11. Minnesota Wild: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL)
12. Winnipeg Jets: Jake Sanderson, LHD, USA U18 (NTDP)
13. New York Rangers: Dylan Holloway, C, University of Wisconsin
14. Florida Panthers: Noel Gunler, LW, Lulea (SHL)
15. Columbus Blue Jackets: Braden Schneider, RHD, Brandon (WHL)
16. Calgary Flames: Dawson Mercer, RW, Drummondville (QMJHL)
17. New Jersey Devils (via Vancouver Canucks): Jeremie Poirier, LHD, Saint John (QMJHL)
18. Nashville Predators: Jack Quinn, RW/LW, Ottawa (OHL)
19. Carolina Hurricanes (via Toronto Maple Leafs): Rodion Amirov, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
20. Edmonton Oilers: Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)
21. Ottawa Senators (via New York Islanders): Lukas Cormier, LHD, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
22. Dallas Stars: Jan Mysak, C, Hamilton (OHL)
23. New York Rangers (via Carolina Hurricanes): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
24. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh Penguins): William Wallinder, LHD, MODO Hockey J20 (Allsvenskan)
25. Philadelphia Flyers: Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
26. San Jose Sharks (via Tampa Bay Lightning): Roni Hirvonen, C, Assat (SM-Liiga)
27. Colorado Avalanche: Zion Nybeck, RW, HV71 J20 (SHL)
28. Vegas Golden Knights: Antonio Stranges, C/LW, London (OHL)
29. Washington Capitals: Vasili Ponomaryov, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
30. St. Louis Blues: Thomas Bordeleau, C, USA U18 (NTDP)
31. Anaheim Ducks (via Boston): Kaiden Guhle, LHD, Prince Albert (WHL)
Top Sleeper Prospects
Jeremie Poirier, LHD, Saint John (QMJHL)
One of several left-handed defensemen who could be selected in the first round of the draft, Jeremie Poirier is coming off a strong season for the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL. Over 64 games, he tallied 20 goals and 33 assists, showing great scoring ability for a defenseman.
Set to turn 18 on June 2, Poirier should interest teams in the middle-to-late part of the opening round because of his strong skills. ESPN's Chris Peters praised Poirier in his scouting report of the defenseman, placing him at No. 25 in his draft rankings.
"There is little debate that Poirier is among the most skilled defensemen in this draft," Peters wrote. "His hands, in particular, are elite."
With three first-round picks, the Devils could draft players from several different positions. And with the last of those selections, they could be in a position to draft Poirier. It might take some time for him to make an impact in the NHL, but he has the potential to emerge as a top defenseman.
Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)
Jacob Perreault has the pedigree and the goal-scoring ability to be one of the biggest sleeper prospects in this year's draft class. The son of former NHL player Yanic Perreault, the centerman netted 69 goals over 120 games in the past two seasons for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL.
Ranked at No. 19 in Peters' ESPN NHL draft rankings, Perreault should be selected around the middle of the first round. By the time he reaches the league, however, people could look back and wonder why he was picked so late.
"Among the best pure goal scorers in this class, Perreault has an elite shot," Peters wrote. "His one-timers are deadly, and he changes up his release points on his shot often, which makes him much more deceptive for opposing goalies."
If Perreault is available when the Edmonton Oilers are on the clock, that could be a fit for the 18-year-old. Edmonton boasts some of the league's most talented and dynamic offensive players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Given they are only 23 and 24, respectively, Perreault's addition could help the franchise take another step in the right direction.
William Wallinder, LHD, MODO Hockey J20 (Allsvenskan)
William Wallinder is another left-handed defenseman who could get drafted before the end of the opening round. The 17-year-old Swede is an exciting prospect who has the size (6'4", 192 pounds) and potential to be a sleeper pick in this year's draft.
In his first full season playing in the J20 SuperElit, Wallinder had solid results, tallying 24 points (five goals and 19 assists) in 37 games for MODO Hockey. Larry Fisher of the Hockey Writers recently listed Wallinder among his 10 draft prospects on the rise for May.
"He made significant strides during his draft year after bursting on to the scouting radar at the Junior Club World Cup," Fisher wrote. "That isn't one of the more prestigious events, but that was Wallinder's coming-out party, and he has since rounded out his game as a two-way type."
One potential fit for Wallinder could be the Minnesota Wild, who could be in the range to draft him with their second first-round selection (which originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins). Minnesota's defensive lines are mostly filled with veterans, so it would make sense to draft someone like Wallinder, who has the potential to become a stalwart on the blue line.