2020 NHL Mock Draft: Latest Predictions for Under-the-Radar Prospects

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIMay 25, 2020

Russia's Yegor Zamula, left, celebrates with Russia's goaltender Yaroslav Askarov, right, after winning the U20 Ice Hockey Worlds quarterfinal match between Switzerland and Russia in Trinec, Czech Republic, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

By this point, hockey fans are quite familiar with the players who are expected to be taken with the first handful of picks in the 2020 NHL draft. Canadian left winger Alexis Lafreniere will likely be the No. 1 overall pick, and Quinton Byfield, Tim Stutzle and Jamie Drysdale should quickly follow him off the board.

But there are 31 selections in the first round of the draft. And while there are sure to be some sleeper picks in the rounds that follow, the same could happen in the mid-to-late part of the first round, as there are some talented prospects who have gone under the radar during the buildup to this year's draft.

Here's a mock for the first round, followed by a look at several under-the-radar prospects in the draft class.


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: Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-Neva (VHL)

10. New Jersey Devils (via Arizona Coyotes): Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)

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, Chicoutimi (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, LW, 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)


Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-Neva (VHL)

Although Yaroslav Askarov could be the first goaltender selected in this year's draft, he's gone a bit under the radar in the leadup to the event because he's unlikely to be selected in the top five.

Askarov is a talented goalie, though, and he has the potential to develop into a strong starter in the NHL. The reason he seems unlikely to fall out of the top 10 is because he could be a perfect fit for the Chicago Blackhawks as they look to add a goaltending prospect.

"The soon-to-be 18-year-old has high-end vision, movements and reflexes, making the most difficult of saves look easy," Peter Baracchini of the Hockey Writers recently wrote. "He addresses a potential need [for Chicago], and that's extremely difficult to find."

In 18 games in the VHL this past season, Askarov had a 2.45 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. If he continues to get better as he faces tougher competition in the upcoming years, don't be surprised if he becomes the Blackhawks' franchise goaltender, potentially helping the franchise return to their winning ways.

Prediction: Askarov goes in top 10 to Blackhawks.


Dawson Mercer, RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

HAMILTON, ON - JANUARY 16:  Dawson Mercer #19 of Team Red skates during the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team White at FirstOntario Centre on January 16, 2020 in Hamilton, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

This past season, Dawson Mercer was traded midseason from Drummondville to Chicoutimi. And the 18-year-old right winger excelled offensively for both teams, tallying 60 points (24 goals and 36 assists) in 42 total games.

Mercer can do a lot more than just score, though. And one of the reasons why Mercer is likely to be drafted around the middle of the first round is because of his all-around skills, which NHL.com's Guillaume Lepage praised in a mock draft in April: "The 6'0", 180-pound forward does everything well. He can play in the middle or on the wing and should provide a boost on special teams."

Mercer will likely be one of the best players remaining on the board when he gets drafted near the middle of the first round, and he could be a fit for a lot of teams considering he's a do-it-all winger. If he's still available when the Calgary Flames are on the clock, don't be surprised if they take him to develop as a potential star player for years to come.

Prediction: Mercer goes around middle of first round to Flames.


Zion Nybeck, RW, HV71 J20 (SHL)

Another right winger who will likely get drafted in the second half of the opening round is Zion Nybeck, a Swedish 18-year-old who flashed impressive offensive talent this season. In 42 games for HV71 of the J20 SuperElit, Nybeck tallied 66 points on 27 goals and 39 assists.

As Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst noted, Nybeck's points total led the SuperElit this past season. He possesses the tools that could lead to him having a successful tenure in the NHL.

"Nybeck is an outstanding playmaker," Kournianos wrote. "He creates high-end setups on his own but also knows where to position himself to maximize the effectiveness of his linemates and creative defensemen."

The Colorado Avalanche have been successful in developing prospects they have drafted in recent years, and Nybeck could be the next player to join that group. He should be available when Colorado picks late in the opening round, and although Nybeck might take some time to develop, he could be worth the selection for the Avalanche's long-term future.

Prediction: Nybeck goes late in first round to Avalanche.