2020 NHL Post-Lottery Mock Draft: Who Will Be Selected After Alexis Lafreniere?
The New York Rangers were eliminated from the 2020 NHL playoffs qualifying round, but they received a fine consolation prize with the first overall pick in the draft. They won that selection Monday during Phase 2 of the draft lottery.
Because of the disruption to the NHL schedule by the COVID-19 pandemic, the league held its annual lottery in two phases. The first (on June 26) determined the order of selection for the seven non-playoff clubs, with the top pick awarded to one of the eight clubs eliminated from the qualifying round in the second phase.
The remainder of the order from positions nine to 15 was also determined in Phase 2, and the remaining spots (16 through 31) will be established by the results of the playoffs.
The NHL Central Scouting Bureau's ranking of this year's top prospects included North American players such as left wing Alexis Lafreniere of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rimouski Oceanic and center Quinton Byfield of the Ontario Hockey League's Sudbury Wolves. Left wing Tim Stuetzle of Mannheim in Germany topped its listing of the best European players.
Where could those prospects land? Here are our post-lottery mock draft selections for the top 15 positions in this year's draft. We've taken into account each prospect's strengths and the roster needs of each club.
1. New York Rangers: Alexis Lafreniere
Elimination from the playoff qualifying round was a bitter pill for the New York Rangers. Winning Phase 2 of the draft lottery and the opportunity to select left wing Alexis Lafreniere should bring some measure of relief.
Ranked as this year's top prospect, the 18-year-old Lafreniere has the skills of a future superstar. He tallied 105 points in 61 games during his sophomore campaign with the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic, followed by his league-leading 112 points over 52 games in 2019-20.
This has been a significant year for Lafreniere. The 6'1", 192-pound left wing joined Sidney Crosby as one of two players to win the Michel Briere Memorial Trophy as QMJHL MVP in consecutive years. In January, he was named MVP during Canada's gold-medal run at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Jean-Francois Damphousse of NHL Central Scouting believes every aspect of Lafreniere's game is at an elite level. He considered the youngster's vision and playmaking among his best assets.
The Rangers are already deep at left wing with Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider. They could surprise us by taking Quinton Byfield, but they'll likely go with the top prospect in Lafreniere and deal with the logjam at left wing another day.
2. Los Angeles Kings: Quinton Byfield
The Los Angeles Kings moved up two spots to second overall during Phase 1 of the draft lottery. It puts them in a perfect position to land center Quinton Byfield of the Ontario Hockey League's Sudbury Wolves.
Byfield, who turns 18 on Aug. 19, is a 6'4", 214-pound center. He recorded 61 points in 64 games during his rookie season (2018-19) with the Wolves, becoming the OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year. He followed up with 82 points in 45 games as a sophomore.
On June 23, Sportsnet's Mark Johnson reported Byfield models his game after Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin. He also cited NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory, who praised the young center's size, strength, soft hands and vision.
With Anze Kopitar turning 33 on Aug. 24 and Jeff Carter in the twilight of his career, the Kings must find eventual replacements for their top two centers. Byfield has the skills to become the successor.
3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks): Tim Stutzle
On Sep. 13, 2018, the Ottawa Senators acquired a 2020 first-round pick from the San Jose Sharks as part of the return for defenseman Erik Karlsson. The draft lottery determined that pick would be third overall, which the Senators could use to select left wing Tim Stutzle of the Mannheim Eagles in Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
Stutzle, 18, was ranked the top European skater by NHL Central Scouting. The 6'1", 187-pounder netted 34 points in 41 games last season and was named his league's Rookie of the Year.
During an interview with NHL.com's Adam Kimelman on April 8, the NHL's director of European scouting, Goran Stubb, lauded Stutzle as an "exceptional talent." He singled out the youngster's speed, maturity and understanding of the game.
The Senators are building up an impressive pool of promising young talent, led by Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, Logan Brown and Erik Brannstrom. Stutzle could quickly blossom into one of their brightest stars, filling a big role among their top-six forwards.
4. Detroit Red Wings: Jamie Drysdale
Despite finishing with this season's worst record, the Detroit Red Wings wound up with the fourth overall selection during Phase 1 of the draft lottery. Nevertheless, they could select a fine young defenseman in Jamie Drysdale of the Ontario Hockey League's Erie Otters.
Ranked the No. 3 skater and the top defenseman among North American skaters, the 18-year-old Drysdale netted 40 points in 63 games as a rookie with the Otters in 2018-19 and 47 points in 49 games as an OHL sophomore.
Despite a slender 5'11", 175-pound frame, Drysdale is a highly skilled, right-shot blueliner. During an April 8 interview with NHL.com's Adam Kimelman, NHL Central Scouting senior manager David Gregory praised the young rearguard's vision and hockey sense.
"Jamie Drysdale is the type of player that every team is looking for," he said.
A lack of skilled blue-line depth crippled the Red Wings in 2019-20. Along with last year's first-round pick, Moritz Seider, Drysdale could give them a strong pair of talented young defensemen.
5. Ottawa Senators: Jake Sanderson
The Ottawa Senators hold two picks in the top five, having acquired the San Jose Sharks' first-rounder as part of the return for defenseman Erik Karlsson in 2018. With Phase 1 of the draft lottery determining their pick would be fifth overall, the Senators could use it to select defenseman Jake Sanderson of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
Sanderson, 18, is the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson. He's committed to the University of North Dakota for 2020-21.
Ranked fourth among North American skaters, Sanderson captained USA Hockey's NTDP Under-18 and Under-17 teams. He's considered an excellent skater, and his scouting report commends his shrewd hockey sense as a contributor who plays a smart defensive game.
The rebuilding Senators were among the league's worst defensive clubs this season, giving up 3.35 goals and 33.6 shots against per game. They must improve their blue-line depth if they intend to become a serious playoff contender. Sanderson's skills and leadership potential could one day help them reach that goal.
6. Anaheim Ducks: Cole Perfetti
The Anaheim Ducks' days as a Western Conference powerhouse are behind them.
With the ninth overall pick last year, they selected promising center Trevor Zegras. They could opt for another center this year by taking Cole Perfetti of the Ontario Hockey League's Saginaw Spirit.
A gifted offensive forward, the 18-year-old Perfetti led all rookies in goals (37) and points (74) in 2018-19. This season, he ranked second in OHL scoring with 111 points and was named one of the league's second-team All-Stars.
The Ducks have struggled offensively in recent years. With Ryan Getzlaf (35) and Adam Henrique (30) aging, they'll need some promising centers to one day take their places. After they selected Zegras last year, Perfetti could be another solid addition.
7. New Jersey Devils: Alexander Holtz
The lottery balls dropped in the New Jersey Devils' favor in 2017 and 2019. They landed the first overall picks in those years and selected centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, respectively. Sitting with the seventh overall selection this year, the Devils could shift to the wing by selecting Alexander Holtz of Djurgardens IF in Sweden.
Ranked second among European skaters, the 18-year-old Holtz spent most of last season with Djurgardens in Sweden's top professional league. He also helped his country win a bronze medal at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Holtz is considered a natural goal scorer with excellent offensive instincts. He can play either wing and can play a heavier game around the opposing net.
The Devils need a reliable scorer to play alongside Hischier or Hughes in the coming years, and Holtz could prove a natural fit in New Jersey.
8. Buffalo Sabres: Marco Rossi
It was a season of upheaval for the Buffalo Sabres. They failed to reach the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year, culminating in a purge of their front office and minor league coaching staff. They're selecting among the top eight for the eighth straight year and hold the eighth overall selection for the fourth time in that span. That pick could be used to select center Marco Rossi of the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67s.
The 18-year-old Rossi was the leading scorer among all Canadian Hockey League scorers this season with 120 points in 56 games. He was named the OHL's Most Outstanding Player.
NHL Central Scouting ranked Rossi sixth among North American skaters, citing his excellent skating, offensive abilities and hard work in all three zones. He can also skate at center or on the wing.
The Sabres need more offensive depth beyond Jack Eichel's line. It might take a couple of years for Rossi to make his mark, but he could blossom into a scorer alongside Eichel or as a dependable second-line center.
9. Minnesota Wild: Anton Lundell
This is the first time the Minnesota Wild have a pick in the top 10 since they selected defenseman Matt Dumba seventh in the 2012 draft. This time, they could look at bolstering their forward lines by selecting Anton Lundell of HIFK.
Lundell, who turns 19 on Oct. 3, spent last season in the Finnish Elite League, netting 28 points in 44 games. He helped his country win gold at the 2018 Under-18 World Championships and at the 2019 World Junior Championships.
The 6'1", 185-pound center is ranked third among European skaters. He's considered a mature, two-way playmaking forward.
With Eric Staal now 35 and 37-year-old captain Mikko Koivu set to become an unrestricted free agent, the Wild need youngsters with promising skill at center. Lundell's all-around acumen and hockey smarts could be just what Minnesota is looking for.
10. Winnipeg Jets: Kaiden Guhle
The Winnipeg Jets selected defenseman Ville Heinola with their first-round pick in the 2019 draft. They could make it two in a row by selecting Kaiden Guhle of the Western Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders.
Guhle is ranked eighth among North American skaters and third among defensemen. He helped the Raiders win the WHL championship in 2018-19 and finished sixth among their leading scorers this season with 40 points.
The 18-year-old rearguard possesses decent size (6'2", 186 lbs) and considerable skill. He's an excellent skater with a strong shot who can also play a physical style.
With the departures since last summer of Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot, the Jets must replenish their depleted defense corps. Adding Guhle with Heinola could give them some much-needed long-term talent on the blue line.
11. Nashville Predators: Lucas Raymond
The last time the Predators had the 11th overall pick, they selected Kevin Fiala in the 2014 NHL draft. They could look to the left side again by selecting Lucas Raymond of Frolunda HC in Sweden.
Raymond is considered an explosive winger with excellent speed and puck control skills. He finished fourth among NHL Central Scouting's rankings of European skaters.
The 18-year-old Swede is said to have good hockey smarts and is effective in traffic. He spent most of last season with Frolunda in Sweden's top professional league.
With Fiala now playing for the Minnesota Wild and Mikael Granlund an unrestricted free agent, the Predators could use some skilled depth at left wing. With another year of seasoning in Sweden, Raymond could one day fill that role. His all-around abilities would make him useful in all situations.
12. Florida Panthers: Braden Schneider
It's been another disappointing season for the Florida Panthers. They were eliminated last week from the qualifying round of the playoff tournament and parted ways with longtime general manager Dale Tallon. It remains to be seen who will replace Tallon, but his successor should consider selecting defenseman Braden Schneider of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings.
He'll turn 19 on Sept. 20, and the 6'2", 202-pound Schneider is a physical blueliner. He plays well at both ends of the rink and is considered a complete package who can control play.
The Panthers have struggled on the blue line in recent years. Schneider could develop into the physical presence they need.
13. Carolina Hurricanes: Yaroslav Askarov
The Toronto Maple Leafs' first-round pick belongs to the Carolina Hurricanes, as it was part of last June's Patrick Marleau trade. With the selection, the 'Canes should consider picking goaltender Yaroslav Askarov of SKA-Neva in Russia's second division.
Askarov is ranked as the top European goaltender among this year's prospects. He became the second-youngest goalie to start a KHL game when he made 23 saves in a win for SKA in November at 17 years old.
The 6'3", 176-pound Askarov is mobile and reads play well. TSN's Craig Button praised his composure, assuredness and "defiance in the face of challenges."
Goaltending has been an Achilles' heel for the Hurricanes for several years. though they have considerable depth throughout the rest of their roster and in their prospect pipeline. Adding Askarov could provide a welcome boost between the pipes.
14. Edmonton Oilers: Jack Quinn
To the chagrin of Edmonton Oilers fans, their team didn't win the draft lottery for the fifth time since 2010. Nevertheless, the Oilers are sitting in a good position to land a quality player with the 14th pick. They could give consideration to right wing Jack Quinn of the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67s.
The 6'0", 176-pounder possesses a powerful shot and blazing speed. Scouts also singled out his responsible defensive play.
Finding suitable wingers to play alongside superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl has proved difficult for the Oilers. Quinn probably won't be NHL-ready for another year or two, but he has the speed and scoring touch to one day blossom into a star.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins: Dawson Mercer
The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't win the draft lottery and probably won't land a potential heir apparent to Sidney Crosby. However, they could still find a quality forward with the 15th selection. One option is Dawson Mercer of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Mercer tallied 60 points in 42 games last season with the Sagueneens and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. He's ranked 10th among North American skaters and was a member of Canada's gold-medal team at the 2020 World Junior Championship.
Many of the Penguins' core forwards (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist) are now in their mid-30s. Pittsburgh will soon be in need of young blood among its top six, and Mercer's versatility could make him a useful forward.