The rosters are essentially set for the 31 NHL teams heading into the 2019-2020 season. Players are gearing up for the long season ahead, while some rookies are itching at their first taste of regular season NHL hockey.
Major junior seasons have already begun and NCAA hockey is sure to showcase some of the game’s up-and-coming talents. But what we’re focused on here is which players will make a name for themselves ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft in Montreal next June.
The focus is already on two young players playing in Canada – Rimouski Océanic’s Alexis Lafrenière and Sudbury Wolves’ forward Quinton Byfield – with a number of Europeans rounding out the top 10 on most prospect lists thus far.
Along with some of the other writers from THW covering this year’s class of prospects, we’ll provide rankings throughout the season right up to June’s draft – including Josh Bell’s rankings and Larry Fisher’s updates.
For now, here’s one more early list for those interested as I’ll provide you with my top 62 prospects heading into the 2019-20 NHL season. While I haven’t had the opportunity to watch each of these players play live – being from southwestern Ontario – I am relying on the few opportunities I have had as well as video and other input in making up these preseason rankings.
Preseason Rankings – Top 62
1. Alexis Lafrenière, LW, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
2. Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
3. Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (SHL)
4. Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SuperElit)
5. Cole Perfetti, LW, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
6. Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Finland)
7. Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
8. Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie Otters (OHL)
9. Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
10. Justin Barron, D, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
11. Dylan Holloway, C, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)
12. Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
13. Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (MHL)
14. Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea HF (SHL)
15. Vasily Ponomarev, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
16. Antonio Stranges, LW, London Knights (OHL)
17. Tim Stutzle, C, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
18. Braden Schneider, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
19. Zion Nybeck, RW, HV 71 (SuperElit)
20. Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
21. Jake Sanderson, D, U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
22. Will Cuylle, LW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
23. Jean-Luc Foudy, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
24. Connor McClennon, RW, Winnipeg ICE (WHL)
25. Kasper Simontaival, F, Tappara (Liiga)
26. Ty Smilanic, C, U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
27. Jan Mysak, LW, HC Litvinov (Czech Republic)
28. Connor Zary, C, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
29. Roni Hirvonen, LW/C, Assat (Liiga)
30. Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
31. Jaromir Pytlik, RW, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
32. Martin Chromiak, LW, HK Dual Trencin (Slovakia)
33. Jake Neighbours, LW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
34. Justin Sourdif, RW, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
35. Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
36. Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
37. Dawson Mercer, RW, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
38. Michael Benning, D, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
39. Luke Tuch, LW, U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
40. Dylan Peterson, RW/C, U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
41. Jacob Perreault, RW/C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
42. Tyler Kleven, D, U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
43. Veeti Miettinen, RW, Kiekko-Espoo U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
44. Alexander Pashin, F, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
45. Theo Rochette, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
46. Emil Andrae, D, HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
47. Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
48. Kasper Puutio, D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
49. Samuel Knazko, D, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
50. Seth Jarvis, RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
51. Ryder Rolston, F, U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
52. Sean Farrell, F, U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
53. Daniel Ljungman, C, Linkoping HC J20 (SuperElit)
54. Helge Grans, D, Malmo Redhawks J20 (SuperElit)
55. Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
56. Daniil Gushchin, RW, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
57. Pavel Novak, F, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
58. Michal Gut, LW/C, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
59. Adam Raska, LW, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
60. Noah Delemont, D, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
61. Ben Schoen, F, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
62. Cross Hanas, LW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
After a strong showing in the first round in the 2019 NHL Draft, the U.S. Development Program took a bit of a back seat to players in major junior and Europe in this year’s preseason rankings.
Raymond and Holtz could battle for a spot in the top three all season long. Both Swedes play the wing and have strong hockey IQ and see the game very well. That’s just a bonus to their already impressive skill set. While Raymond has the slight edge thus far, Holtz isn’t far behind him.
That said, there’s a lot of hockey left to play and a number of changes could come to these rankings based on the long season ahead.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.