NHL Draft 2020: 1st-Round Mock Predictions and Latest OrderJuly 31, 2020
The owner of the 2020 NHL draft's No. 1 overall pick is Team E, a placeholder team designated for one of the eight losers in the Stanley Cup playoffs qualifying round, which starts Saturday.
Those eight teams will each receive an equal 12.5 percent chance to land the coveted No. 1 pick. The seven runners-up will then be ordered No. 9 through No. 15 in reverse order of regular-season points per game. The remainder of the draft is decided by a combination of regular-season and playoff results.
With that in mind, the draft order won't be determined until after the Stanley Cup has been presented, so this is a look at how the draft could shake out.
In this scenario, all of the lower seeds in the qualifying round lose out. We're giving the No. 1 overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens, who have the lowest Eastern Conference seed and the longest odds to win their qualifying round series, per Caesars Palace.
Nos. 16 through 31 are ordered as if the higher seed (or the team with the most points per game) wins out the rest of the way.
With all that in mind, here's a look at a fresh mock draft, alongside some quick takes on the projected top four.
2020 NHL Mock Draft
1. Montreal Canadiens: LW Alexis Lafreniere, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
2. Los Angeles Kings: C Quinton Byfield, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks): C Tim Stutzle, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
4. Detroit Red Wings: C Cole Perfetti, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
5. Ottawa Senators: C Marco Rossi, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
6. Anaheim Ducks: D Jamie Drysdale, Erie Otters (OHL)
7. New Jersey Devils: LW Lucas Raymond, Frolunda HC (SHL)
8. Buffalo Sabres: RW Alexander Holtz, Djurgardens IF Hockey (SHL)
9. Chicago Blackhawks: RW Jack Quinn, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
10. New Jersey Devils (from Arizona Coyotes): G Yaroslav Askarov, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
11. Minnesota Wild: D Jake Sanderson, United States Under-18 National Team
12. Winnipeg Jets: C Anton Lundell, HIFK (Liiga)
13. New York Rangers: RW Dawson Mercer, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
14. Florida Panthers: D Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
15. Columbus Blue Jackets: LW Rodion Amirov, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
16. Calgary Flames: D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
17. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver Canucks): RW Noel Gunler, Lulea HF (SHL)
18. Nashville Predators: RW Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
19. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs): F Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA)
20. Edmonton Oilers: C Mavrik Bourque, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
21. Ottawa Senators (from New York Islanders): C Connor Zary, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
22. Dallas Stars: LW Jan Mysak, HC Litvinov (Czech)
23. New York Rangers (from Carolina Hurricanes): C Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
24. Minnesota Wild (from Pittsburgh Penguins): D William Wallinder, MODO Hockey J20 (Allsvenskan)
25. Philadelphia Flyers: D Justin Barron, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
26. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay Lightning): C Jacob Perreault, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
27. Colorado Avalanche: D Jeremie Poirier, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
28. Vegas Golden Knights: F John-Jason Peterka, EHC Munchen (DEL)
29. Washington Capitals: F Lukas Reichel, Eisbaren Berlin (DEL)
30. St. Louis Blues: C Thomas Bordeleau, United States Under-18 National Team
31. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins): F Ridly Greig, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Draft order via Tankathon.
Montreal Canadiens: LW Alexis Lafreniere, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Every major hockey media outlet and scouting service has Lafreniere ranked No. 1, per Elite Prospects, including the coveted top spot on Bob McKenzie of TSN's list.
McKenzie called Lafreniere the "surest thing" in a year with much uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That should be comforting for the No. 1 team, who should take Lafreniere without much thought.
Lafreniere dominated the QMJHL with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in just 52 games last season. For context, no other QMJHL player had more than 99 points—and that's despite the likely No. 1 pick missing 12 of his team's contests.
Corey Pronman of The Athletic said "Lafreniere has the potential to be one of the top scoring forwards in the league, a true star NHLer and a key piece for a rebuild." Dobber Prospects called him a "supremely gifted offensive player" who can "beat you in any number of ways."
And NHL Central Scouting (h/t Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com) said Lafreniere "offers high-end puck skills and vision to create plays, has an impressive compete level every time he's on the ice and elevates his game in pressure situations while demonstrating leadership skills."
The bottom line: You can insert any of the eight teams that could finish with the No. 1 pick this year at the top of a mock draft, and the choice for all of them is Alexis Lafreniere.
Los Angeles Kings: C Quinton Byfield, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
As Lisa Dillman of The Athletic said as part of the outlet's June mock draft, the "Kings' succession concerns at No. 1 center are eased" if they select Quinton Byfield to take over for Anze Kopitar.
"With a formidable one-two punch down the middle—like when they were winning championships—the Kings won't be pushed around physically," Dillman added. "Furthermore, it will allow them to keep Jeff Carter on the wing."
There isn't much to dislike about the 6'4", 214-pound Byfield, who scored points in droves for the OHL's Sudbury Wolves. Byfield nearly had two points per game last year, registering 32 goals and 50 assists in just 43 games.
Plus, at least one executive thinks the 17-year-old has even more room to grow.
"He's certainly not at the bottom end of that scale," Kings head of amateur scouting Mark Yannetti told Dillman. "I think he can gain another 15 pounds without blinking."
Pronman called Byfield a "projected star-caliber first-line forward who can be a foundational piece of a rebuild." If that's the case, then the Kings will have landed an excellent prospect despite losing out on Lafreniere.
Byfield has Hall of Fame potential and could well lead the Kings into another era of Stanley Cup prosperity.
Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks): C Tim Stutzle, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
The biggest first-round debate is whether Byfield or Tim Stutzle will land No. 2 to the Los Angeles Kings. Byfield would appear to be the better fit, but there's a sizable contingent of analysts and scouts who believe Stutzle is the second-best prospect in this draft.
McKenzie discussed some scout takes en route to explaining why he chose Stutzle second on his prospect list:
"Five of 10 scouts surveyed by TSN ranked Stutzle No. 2 overall; the same number had Byfield in that slot. But no scout surveyed had Stutzle lower than No. 3. Two of 10 slotted Byfield at No. 6, which is to say eight had him at No. 2 or No. 3. So there's not a lot to choose between the two."
Stutzle's skating ability has received much praise, with McKenzie noting that NHL Central Scouting rated the trait a perfect 10 out of 10. Pronman called him a "great skater" and said he "is a dynamic offensive player who has a lot of NHL-caliber components to his game."
The 18-year-old is ranked second or third overall virtually everywhere, per Elite Prospects. And with that in mind, Hailey Salvian of The Athletic believes that Stutzle would be a good fit on the Ottawa Senators.
"His combination of dynamic speed, good hands and excellent hockey sense makes him the perfect center to play on the top line with Brady Tkachuk, who excels with players who can make plays and get the puck to the net," Salvian wrote.
Ottawa had the second-fewest points in the league last year behind only the Detroit Red Wings. Luckily, the team is set up for long-term success with three first-round picks and two in the top five. Stutzle is a good start as the team looks to rebuild.
Detroit Red Wings: C Cole Perfetti, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
The Detroit Red Wings are tough-luck lottery losers after losing out on the consensus top three players in the draft, but landing a top-line forward is a great consolation prize.
The Wings can go in a few different directions to help their league-worst offense, but the guess here is they go with Cole Perfetti, who posted 37 goals in each of the past two OHL seasons.
He scored those goals despite some bad luck, as Perfetti referenced in conversation with Ryan Kennedy of Hockey News.
"I think in the first seven games [of the 2019-20 season] I hit 14 posts and crossbars combined. It was tough going through that; I wasn't producing and it was tough on the mental side of the game. I was changing sticks up, how I came to the rink, changing my routine and it opened up for a bit. But my teammates are scoring when I put the puck on their stick."
It's also hard to ignore the fact that Perfetti was dominant for one of the OHL's best teams in the Spirit, who were tied for second in the Western Conference when the season was cancelled because of the pandemic. The Spirit won eight of their last 10 games, and one can wonder whether Perfetti's stock could have risen further if he had the chance to compete (and excel) in the playoffs.
Granted, cracking into the top three this year is a tall order, but Perfetti is a phenomenal talent who should make a near-immediate impact with his new team.
The guess here is that will be the Red Wings, who need help in all phases as they look to move past their league-worst point total. Picking up Perfetti would be a good start.