NHL Draft 2020: 1st-Round Order, Breaking Down Top Defensemen Prospects

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIMay 27, 2020

Finland's Lenni Killinen, left, skates past as Canada's Jamie Drysdale, right, celebrates after scoring his sides third goal during the U20 Ice Hockey Worlds semifinal match between Finland and Canada in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Some changes are coming to this year's NHL draft lottery, which has been rescheduled for June 26 after originally getting postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Well, that's when the first phase of the lottery will take place. It's possible that there will be a second phase that won't happen until later.

With Tuesday's announcement that there will be 24 teams in the playoffs if/when the NHL returns, the 2019-20 season is now over for seven teams. Those seven teams, along with the eight that lose in the postseason play-in round, will have a chance to earn a top-three draft pick, as NHL.com's Tom Gulitti breaks down.

The eight teams still playing will be represented by placeholders at the first phase of the lottery, and if one of those are selected for a top-three pick, a second phase will take place prior to the postseason play-in round, with each of those teams having a 12.5-percent chance of moving into the top three. Once the top three picks are set, the remainder of the top-15 selections will be ordered by points percentage.

While the draft lottery is nearly a month away, here's a look at how the draft would currently line up (from worst record to best). Then, we'll break down some of the top defensemen from this year's draft class.


Current Projected NHL Draft Order

1. Detroit Red Wings (17-49-5)

2. Ottawa Senators (25-34-12)

3. Ottawa Senators (via 29-36-5 San Jose Sharks)

4. Los Angeles Kings (29-35-6)

5. Anaheim Ducks (29-33-9)

6. New Jersey Devils (28-29-12)

7. Buffalo Sabres (30-31-8)

8. Montreal Canadiens (31-31-9)

9. Chicago Blackhawks (32-30-8)

10. New Jersey Devils (via 33-29-8 Arizona Coyotes)

11. Minnesota Wild (35-27-7)

12. Winnipeg Jets (37-28-6)

13. New York Rangers (37-28-5)

14. Florida Panthers (35-26-8)

15. Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15)

16. Calgary Flames (36-27-7)

17. New Jersey Devils (via 36-27-6 Vancouver Canucks)

18. Nashville Predators (35-26-8)

19. Carolina Hurricanes (via 36-25-9 Toronto Maple Leafs)

20. Edmonton Oilers (37-25-9)

21. Ottawa Senators (via 35-23-10 New York Islanders)

22. Dallas Stars (37-24-8)

23. New York Rangers (via 38-25-5 Carolina Hurricanes)

24. Minnesota Wild (via 40-23-6 Pittsburgh Penguins)

25. Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7)

26. San Jose Sharks (via 43-21-6 Tampa Bay Lightning)

27. Colorado Avalanche (42-20-8)

28. Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8)

29. Washington Capitals (41-20-8)

30. St. Louis Blues (42-19-10)

31. Anaheim Ducks (via 44-14-12 Boston Bruins)


Top Defensemen in Draft Class

Jamie Drysdale, Erie (OHL)

The overwhelming favorite to be the first defenseman selected in this year's draft, Jamie Drysdale is an exciting prospect who has the potential to be selected in the top five, perhaps even the top three. That could be determined by the order and where teams most interested in adding a defenseman land.

Drysdale, an 18-year-old right-handed defenseman from Toronto, is coming off an impressive season with the Erie Otters of the OHL. In 49 games, he tallied nine goals and 38 assists while posting a plus/minus of plus-nine. He also had a goal and two assists in seven games for Canada's U20 team at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Although ESPN's Chris Peters wrote that he believes Drysdale has "game-breaker potential," he also noted that the defenseman's game could use some refining.

"Drysdale is an effortless, deceptive skater who can make a lot of plays with his feet in terms of opening up ice," Peters wrote. "His defending is adequate, though he still needs to get stronger and have a more consistent detail in his own end."

Still at a young age, Drysdale has the time and potential to improve those areas of his game, potentially before ever taking the ice for an NHL squad. It should be fun to watch his development and see the type of player he becomes in the league.


Jake Sanderson, USA U18 (NTDP)

PLYMOUTH, MI - DECEMBER 11: Jake Sanderson #48 of the U.S. Nationals follows the play against the Slovakia Nationals during game two of day one of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on December 11, 2018 in Plymouth, Michiga
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Last year, there were eight players from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program selected in the first round of the NHL draft. While that number likely won't be as high this year, the program will still be represented by Jake Sanderson, a 17-year-old left-handed defenseman from Whitefish, Montana.

NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale pointed out one similarity that Sanderson has to New Jersey Devils center and former USA NTDP standout Jack Hughes, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft.

"Sanderson is to this year's USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team what Jack Hughes was to last season's group—its most valuable player," Morreale wrote. "Sanderson, the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson, is a mobile puck-mover with a dominant defensive mindset and an improving offensive game."

In 47 games for the USA NTDP U18 team, Sanderson tallied seven goals and 22 assists. However, there's a chance it could be a bit before he plays in the NHL, as he's committed to play college hockey at University of North Dakota.

Eventually, though, Sanderson could be a top-tier defenseman in the NHL and an exciting player to watch for years to come.


Braden Schneider, Brandon (WHL)

HAMILTON, ON - JANUARY 16:  Braden Schneider #2 of Team White skates during the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team Red at FirstOntario Centre on January 16, 2020 in Hamilton, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

In Peters' scouting report of Braden Schneider, he broke down one of the 18-year-old right-handed defenseman's best traits: his reliability.

"A confident defender who can throw his weight around, Schneider offers predictability in a good way: You're going to get consistent effort and good competitiveness," Peters wrote. "I really like the way he plays between the dots. He can control the net front both physically and with excellent anticipation."

Schneider had a strong season for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, tallying seven goals and 35 assists in 60 games while posting a plus/minus of plus-nine. He has the potential to be a late lottery pick, and if he isn't selected by then, he shouldn't be on the board much later.

Like Drysdale and Sanderson, Schneider has a lot of potential to become a successful NHL defenseman, but it could take a few years for him to reach that level as he continues to develop. Regardless, there should be excitement about seeing a player with Schneider's skill set getting close to entering the league.


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