The 2019 NHL Draft has barely settled, yet it’s already time to start looking to the future and the 2020 Draft with the World Junior Summer Series and Hlinka Gretzky Cup all wrapped up. These tournaments have provided a look at a number of the top-ranked prospects for what looks to be one of the best drafts in recent memory. Early indications are that it could even one day challenge the 2003 Draft as arguably the best ever.
It should be no surprise to see the first name on the list, Alexis Lafrenière. The QMJHL star for the Rimouski Oceanic has a wicked shot, speed for days and elite hockey sense. He looks to be a lock for the first-overall pick. Or is he?
Quinton Byfield comes in right behind Lafrenière, looking to be the main competition for the number one spot. He’s got NHL size, yet he has tremendous speed. He has a cannon of a shot to go with soft hands. Byfield leads a strong OHL group that includes Cole Perfetti, Marco Rossi, Jamie Drysdale (the top defender in the draft, so far) and Antonio Stranges.
The QMJHL looks to have a strong draft year as well, with Lafreniere, Hendrix Lapierre, Justin Barron and Dawson Mercer all looking like top-20 picks. Lapierre made sure everyone knew just how good he is with a strong performance at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
A final group I’ll highlight here is the strong crop of Swedish players. Led by Lucas Raymond (another player who could punch for the number one spot) and Alexander Holtz, there is an elite group in the draft that all come from Sweden. A couple other Swedes of note are Noel Gunler and Zion Nybeck.
Two leagues that had strong turnouts in the last draft include the WHL and USNTDP. They both have slightly down years, at least compared to last season. There are still some great players to look forward to watching though, including Ty Smilanic and Dylan Peterson from the USNTDP and Kaiden Guhle and Connor Zary from the WHL.
For another early look at the 2020 NHL Draft, be sure to check out my colleague Larry Fisher’s top-124 preseason rankings. Without further adieu, let’s dive into a very early look of the top-62 prospects.
2020 NHL Entry Draft Rankings
1. Alexis Lafrenière, LW, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
2. Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
3. Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda HC J20 (SHL)
4. Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)
5. Alexander Holtz, RW, Djugardens J20 (SuperElit)
6. Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
7. Jamie Drysdale, RD, Erie Otters (OHL)
8. Noel Gunler, LW/RW, Lulea HF (SHL)
9. Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
10. Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
11. Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
12. Dylan Holloway, C/W, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)
13. Tim Stutzle, C, Mannheim U20 (DNL U20)
14. Jan Mysak, C, HC Litvinov (Extralega)
15. Justin Barron, RD, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
16. Antonio Stranges, LW, London Knights (OHL)
17. Dawson Mercer, RW, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
18. Zion Nybeck, RW, HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
19. Jean-Luc Foudy, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
20. Vasily Ponomaryov, RW, Krylia Sovetov (MHL)
21. Jeremie Poirier, LD, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
22. Ty Smilanic, LW, U.S. U18 (NTDP)
23. Dylan Peterson, C, U.S. U18 (NTDP)
24. Kasper Simontaival, LW, Tappara U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
25. Kaiden Guhle, LD, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
26. Rodion Amirov, LW, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
27. Jacob Perreault, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
28. Connor Zary, C, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
29. Tyler Kleven, LD, U.S. U18 (NTDP)
30. Jake Neighbours, LW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
31. Braden Schneider, RD, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
32. Theo Rochette, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
33. Daniil Gushchin, RW, Regina Pats (WHL)
34. Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
35. Roni Hirvonen, C, Ässät (Liiga)
36. Jake Sanderson, LD, U.S. U18 (NTDP)
37. Connor McClennon, RW, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
38. Justin Sourdiff, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
39. Jaromir Pytlik, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
40. Alexandr Pashin, LW, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
41. Emil Andrae, RD, HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
42. Helge Grans, RD, Malmö Red Hawks J20 (SuperElit)
43. Luke Tuch, LW, U.S. U18 (NTDP)
44. Noah Delemont, LD, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
45. Martin Chromiak, LW, HK Dukla Trencin (Slovakia)
46. Shakir Mukhamadullin, LD, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
47. Michael Benning, RD, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
48. Lukas Cormier, LD, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
49. Carter Savoie, LW Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
50. Daniel Ljungman, C, Linkoping J20 (SuperElit)
51. Adam Raska, LW, HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech)
52. Michal Gut, C, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
53. Veeti Miettinen, RW, Blues U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
54. Will Cuylle, LW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
55. Kasper Puutio, RD, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
56. Alexander Nikishin, D, MHK Spartak Moskva (MHL)
57. Ryan O’Rourke, LD, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
58. Blake Biondi, RW, Hermantown U.S. High School (USHS-MN)
59. Samuel Knazko, LD, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
60. Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
61. Pavel Novak, RW, Motor Ceske Budejovice (Czech2)
62. Jan Bednar, G, HC Karlovy Vary (Czech)
Keep in mind, there’s a lot of hockey to be played over the next 10 months. This list will likely look very different as the season goes on and players impress or falter through their draft years. I’ll be updating and expanding the list a few times this season, as well as providing some deeper looks into certain draft-eligible prospects. This will include some interesting stories around the players and breaking down their game in some deeper dives.
I look forward to the conversation that this exercise brings, make sure to leave any thoughts, questions or comments down below!