Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle? That appears to be the decision the Los Angeles Kings are going to have to make when they are on the clock with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft.
While it won't be known which team ends up with the No. 1 selection until the second phase of the draft lottery, it shouldn't matter which of the eight teams that loses in the play-in round of the expanded NHL playoffs gets it—they are almost certainly going to draft Alexis Lafreniere.
Byfield and Stutzle have been projected by many to be two of the top players in this year's class, and while neither is likely to be drafted over Lafreniere, both should quickly follow him off the board.
Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding the Kings' decision and other top prospects in this NHL draft class.
Where Will Byfield and Stutzle End Up?
According to Hailey Salvian of The Athletic, the Ottawa Senators "should go with either Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle, whoever is available" when they are on the clock with the No. 3 pick in this year's NHL draft. That means the Los Angeles Kings will likely be deciding which of those two ends up in Ottawa.
Byfield, a 6'4" Canadian center, and Stutzle, a 6'0" German forward, are both exciting prospects with high upside, and there's a chance both turn out to be standout NHLers. And the Kings may already know the direction in which they are leaning.
"There has been some chatter that the L.A. Kings...are higher on Stutzle than Byfield, and that could make the latter available to the Senators at third overall," Salvian wrote.
Byfield is likely more ready for the NHL, so it may not be long before he hits the ice for the Senators if that's how the top three picks in the draft unfold. Ottawa also owns the No. 5 pick, and it will likely have a more difficult decision to make at that selection, when there may not be a clear-cut favorite on the board.
How Early Could Bourque Be Drafted?
Over the past two seasons, Mavrik Bourque impressed while playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. He tallied 54 points (25 goals and 29 assists) in 64 games in 2018-19 and followed that with 71 points (29 goals and 42 assists) in 49 games this past season.
An 18-year-old Canadian center, Bourque should be selected in the first round of this year's NHL draft. But just how early might he come off the board?
The Athletic's Corey Pronman has Bourque getting drafted by the Nashville Predators with the No. 19 pick in his most recent mock, but he acknowledged that could be a bit early for him to come off the board: "In discussions with NHL teams, Bourque seems more likely to go in the 20s than around No. 19."
Even if he doesn't get drafted until the late 20s, it seems unlikely he will fall out of the first round. Pronman noted that the centerman "does a lot of things that Nashville values, especially the elite hockey sense he brings to go with the skill, the shot and the competitiveness." It suggests Bourque could be a good fit with the Preds and may thus be the first player they take in 2020.
Greig's Rising Stock Has Him in Opening-Round Conversation
Another prospect likely to be drafted in the later part of the first round is Ridly Greig, a 17-year-old Canadian left winger. In 56 games this season for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, Greig tallied 60 points (26 goals and 34 assists), which was a big improvement from the previous season, when he had 35 points (14 goals and 21 assists) in 63 games.
With how well Greig played this season, especially later on, his stock appears to be sky-high as the draft gets closer.
"Greig's name kept rising in the final months of the season, and scouts have told me they expect him to be a first-round lock due to how skilled he is and how hard he competes on the ice," Pronman wrote.
Pronman projected Greig to get drafted by the Edmonton Oilers at No. 21, noting that they value his attributes. But whichever team ends up selecting him around this range could be getting a steal, as Greig looks like he could develop into a strong NHL player.