The NHL offseason got underway this week when the league's 31 teams gathered virtually to hold the 2020 NHL draft on Tuesday and Wednesday.
While most of the prospects selected in the 2020 draft won't be impact players for at least a few years, other teams made themselves better instantly by nabbing players who will likely have a role with their new club as soon as next season.
There were also a few teams with multiple first-round picks, which gave them an advantage over the rest of the league in terms of bringing in an infusion of young talent.
With the 2020 NHL draft officially in the books, here is a rundown of team-by-team grades, as well as further analysis regarding the teams that stood out above the rest.
2020 NHL Draft Grades
- New York Rangers: A (Top pick - Alexis Lafreniere)
- Los Angeles Kings: A- (Top pick - Quinton Byfield)
- Ottawa Senators: A (Top pick - Tim Stuetzle)
- Detroit Red Wings: A- (Top pick - Lucas Raymond)
- Anaheim Ducks: A (Top pick - Jamie Drysdale)
- New Jersey Devils: A- (Top pick - Alexander Holtz)
- Buffalo Sabres: B+ (Top pick - Jack Quinn)
- Minnesota Wild: A- (Top pick - Marco Rossi)
- Winnipeg Jets: B (top pick - Cole Perfetti)
- Nashville Predators: B- (Top pick - Iaroslav Askarov)
- Florida Panthers: B- (Top pick - Anton Lundell)
- Carolina Hurricanes: B (Top pick - Seth Jarvis)
- Edmonton Oilers: C+ (Top pick - Dylan Holloway)
- Toronto Maple Leafs: C+ (Top pick - Rodion Amirov)
- Montreal Canadiens: B+ (Top pick - Kaiden Guhle)
- Chicago Blackhawks: C+ (Top pick - Lukas Reichel)
- Columbus Blue Jackets: D+ (Top pick - Yegor Chinakhov)
- Washington Capitals: B- (Top pick - Hendrix Lapierre)
- Philadelphia Flyers: B- (Top pick - Tyson Foerster)
- Calgary Flames: B (Top pick - Connor Zary)
- Colorado Avalanche: B (Top pick - Justin Barron)
- St. Louis Blues: C (Top pick - Jake Neighbours)
- Vegas Golden Knights: C- (Top pick - Brendan Brisson)
- Dallas Stars: C+ (Top pick - Mavrik Bourque)
- San Jose Sharks: C (Top pick - Ozzy Wiesblatt)
- Pittsburgh Penguins: D+ (Top pick - Joel Blomqvist)
- Tampa Bay Lightning: C+ (Top pick - Jack Finley)
- Boston Bruins: C- (Top pick - Mason Lohrei)
- Vancouver Canucks: D+ (Top pick - Joni Jurmo)
- New York Islanders: D+ (Top pick - Alexander Ljungkrantz)
- Arizona Coyotes: D (Top pick - Mitchell Miller)
Breaking Down Top Draft Performers
New York Rangers
When a team has the No. 1 overall pick and takes the consensus top player in the draft, it is difficult to award them anything less than an A.
That was the case with the New York Rangers, as they were fortunate enough to win the NFL draft lottery and used the top selection to take Canadian forward Alexis Lafreniere.
As seen in the following video courtesy of his junior team, Rimouski of the QMJHL, Lafreniere is a special blend of size, speed, playmaking ability and scoring touch:
Lafreniere has dominated the QMJHL competition, posting back-to-back 100-point years. In just 52 games last season, he finished with 35 goals and 77 assists for 112 points, while also posting a plus-41 rating and showing his grit with 50 penalty minutes.
Given his penchant for making those around him better, Lafreniere should have a hugely positive impact on the Rangers and their other top forwards, including Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko.
Drafting Lafreniere alone would have been enough to earn the Rangers an A, but the Blueshirts didn't stop there.
New York moved up in the first round from No. 22 to No. 19 to select defenseman Braden Schneider. The Brandon Wheat Kings rearguard was considered one of the best defensemen in the draft going in, and he was the fourth to come off the board.
Schneider has plenty of upside as a two-way defenseman and is coming off a 42-point campaign last season in 60 games in the WHL.
To round out the bulk of their haul, the Rangers traded former first-round pick Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings for the No. 60 overall pick and used that selection to take power forward Will Cuylle, who has scored over 20 goals in each of the past two seasons for Windsor of the OHL.
The Ottawa Senators were stockpiling picks ahead of the 2020 NHL draft, and they used most of them to add some much-needed talent to their pipeline.
Ottawa made three selections each in the first and second rounds, but the crown jewel of the class is undoubtedly German forward Tim Stuetzle, who went third overall.
Stuetzle dominated the German junior leagues and was a force in the 2020 World Junior Championships with five points in five games. He has since joined the top professional league in Germany, where he put up 34 points in 41 games last season despite playing against much older and more mature competition.
On top of all that, Stuetzle's selection was one of the coolest moments of the draft, as it was announced by Jeopardy host Alex Trebek:
The Sens picked again two slots later and took the first defenseman off the board in the form of United States National Development Team defenseman Jake Sanderson.
Sanderson going ahead of defenseman Jamie Drysdale raised some eyebrows, but there is no denying Sanderson's all-around potential after posting 14 points in 19 USHL games last season.
Ottawa rounded out its first round at No. 28 when it took Brandon Wheat Kings center Ridly Greig. He took a big leap forward last season with 60 points in 56 games and is the type of all-around player capable of contributing in a middle-six role for years to come.
In addition to the first-rounders, the Sens selected forward Roby Jarventie, defenseman Tyler Kleven and forward Egor Sokolov.
Based purely on volume and the fact that they made six picks inside the top 61, the odds are in the Senators' favor in terms of at least a few of those players panning out.
In terms of value, few teams did a better job during the first two rounds of the 2020 NHL draft than the Anaheim Ducks.
With the sixth overall pick, the Ducks landed arguably the most dynamic offensive defenseman in the draft in the form of Jamie Drysdale. The Toronto native is coming off an excellent 2019-20 season for Erie of the OHL, as he posted 47 points in 49 games, along with a plus-9 rating.
Eric Stephens of The Athletic noted that Drysdale has the potential to be a No. 1 defenseman at the NHL level:
Drysdale was a strong pick, but Anaheim arguably got even better value when it picked again at No. 27. Many were surprised to see forward Jacob Perreault still on the board, but the Ducks wasted little time in snapping him up.
In two seasons for Sarnia of the OHL, Perreault has reached the 30-goal plateau twice, including 39 goals to go along with 31 assists in 57 games last season.
Perreault is arguably a top-15 talent in terms of skill and scoring ability, so getting him near the end of the first was a major coup for the Ducks.
In the second round, the Ducks took more of a project in American center Sam Colangelo, but given his size at 6'2" and over 200 pounds, plus the fact that he racked up 58 points in 44 USHL games last season, he is oozing with potential.
Colangelo is committed to play his college hockey at Northeastern next season, and if he continues to make strides, he could be a major contributor at the NHL level for Anaheim one day.