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NHL Draft 2020: Predicting Where Elite Talent Will Land in 1st-Round Mock Draft

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 7, 2020

Canada's Alexis Lafreniere celebrates after winning the U20 Ice Hockey Worlds gold medal match between Canada and Russia in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Alexis Lafreniere is projected to be a perfect fit with whichever team lands the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft.

The left wing has been placed in a tier of his own by most draft experts because of his skill set and ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis. Lafreniere's fate will be determined Monday, when a second draft lottery is held to determine which of the eight eliminated sides from the qualifying round earns the top pick.

The Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators missed out on Lafreniere in the first draft lottery, but they should each land a strong forward prospect in either Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle.

               

2020 NHL 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Placeholder Team: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

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2. Los Angeles Kings: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose): Tim Stutzle, LW, Mannheim (Germany)

4. Detroit Red Wings: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)

5. Ottawa Senators: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)

6. Anaheim Ducks: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (Sweden)

7. New Jersey Devils: Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (Sweden)

8. Buffalo Sabres: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)

9. Placeholder Team: Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18

10. Placeholder Team: Dawson Mercer, C/RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

11. Placeholder Team: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

12. Placeholder Team: Anton Lundell, C/LW, HIFK (Finland)

13. Placeholder Team: Seth Jarvis, RW, Portland (WHL)

14. Placeholder Team: Yaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St. Petersburg (Russia)

15. Placeholder Team: Noel Gunler, RW/LW, Gunler (Sweden)

16. Calgary Flames: Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin

17. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver): Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (Russia)

18. Nashville Predators: Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL)

19. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto): Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

20. Edmonton Oilers: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL) 

21. Ottawa Senators (from NY Islanders): Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL)

22. Dallas Stars: Lukas Reichel, LW, Eisbaren Berlin (Germany)

23. New York Rangers (from Carolina): Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)

24. Minnesota Wild (from Pittsburgh): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawnigan (QMJHL)

25. Philadelphia Flyers: Jan Mysak, LW, Hamilton (OHL)

26. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay): Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL)

27. Colorado Avalanche: Ridly Greig, LW, Brandon (WHL)

28. Vegas Golden Knights: John-Jason Peterka, C/RW, EHC Munich (Germany) 

29. Washington Capitals: Brendan Brisson, C, Chicago (USHL)

30. St. Louis Blues: Helge Grans, D, Malmo (Sweden)

31. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston): Tyson Foerster, C, Barrie (OHL)

Nos. 16-31 based off regular-season points percentage.

               

Top Prospects

Alexis Lafreniere

Lafreniere's list of eight potential landing spots could become clearer Friday.

Six teams are on the brink of elimination, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers. If both of those sides falter, they will be entered into the Lafreniere lottery as a consolation.

The New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets have already locked in positions in the eight-team group.

Lafreniere's agent, Emilie Castonguay, told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun that the top prospect is just focusing on his game:

"Alexis is focused and training extremely hard at the moment to get ready for next season. He understands he has no control over the lottery. To his merit, he is the type of person who doesn't let things he can't control phase him. He is just excited about joining a team and starting the next chapter of his career."

The ideal situation would be either Pittsburgh or Edmonton since it would slot him into a loaded forward line and give him the chance to contend for a Stanley Cup right away. Both No. 5 seeds are down 2-1 in their respective series with the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.

Even if he lands elsewhere, Lafreniere could help turn that team in the direction of contending for a Stanley Cup in the near future.

The 18-year-old tallied back-to-back 100-point seasons with Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and produced 10 points for Canada at the World U20 Championship.

Prediction: No. 1 to placeholder team.

             

Quinton Byfield

Byfield headlines the second tier of prospects, which includes himself and Stutzle.

The 6'4" Canadian center is the most towering physical presence in the draft class and has drawn some comparisons to Evgeni Malkin. Byfield acknowledged that it is an honor just to be mentioned in the same breath as the Pittsburgh forward, per TSN.

"Definitely drawing a couple comparisons out there," Byfield said. "I think Evgeni Malkin. That's just an honor to be compared to that guy. He's a soon-to-be Hall of Famer."

The 17-year-old is not in the same category as Lafreniere because his counterpart turned in a better performance for Canada on the international stage. Byfield produced a single point in seven games at the World Juniors, but he did improve his point total in the Ontario Hockey League by 22.

He should be a good fit with the Los Angeles Kings, who have targeted centers in the last few first rounds.

The Kings had a decent mix of youth and experience on their scoring depth chart this season, but they are going to be forced to find a successor to soon-to-be 33-year-old captain Anze Kopitar soon, and Byfield could be it.

Prediction: No. 2 overall.

              

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Elite Prospects.

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