THW 2020 Mock NHL Draft Round 2: Our Armchair GMs Make Their Picks

Annually, The Hockey Writers releases a first-round mock draft. You might have seen that published last week. If not, I suggest you check that one out first. We’ll wait:

Related: THW 2020 Mock NHL Draft Round 1: Our Armchair GMs Make Their Picks

Well, we enjoyed that first round so much, that we decided to do a second! Now, it’s turned into a full-blown, seven-round mock draft. Stay tuned for that in the near future.

Just like we did in the first round, this one will include comments from each THW team member on why they made their decision, and then I give my take. The full, seven-round mock will just have the list and then some of my takeaways.

Before we dive in, here are the rules that were set in the first round, that will be carried out through the entire mock draft:

The lottery hasn’t happened yet, but the most likely scenario at this point looks to be the ranking being based on points percentage at the time the season paused, so that’s what we used here while keeping the existing picks via trades in place.

There’s only one rule: no trading picks.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

We also did one thing differently this year. Similar to what Corey Pronman does in The Athletic‘s writers mock draft, this year I gave my take on the writer’s picks. I don’t give an alternate selection, just my thoughts on what if that team took that player. (from: “NHL Mock Draft: Beat writers preview the 2020 draft lottery” – The Athletic – Apr. 9, 2020).

32) Detroit Red Wings: Emil Andrae

THW Writer: Tony Wolak

Sure, Emil Andrae is small in stature, but that hasn’t been an issue for the blueliner. Andrae has intelligent vision and can create in all three zones. He also isn’t afraid to be physical – something that has endeared Joe Hicketts to Red Wings fans. Andrae’s skill set could also pair well with Moritz Seider down the road. Plus, he’s from Sweden, so you know the Red Wings are interested.

Emil Andrae HV71
Emil Andrae of HV71 (HV71)

Bell’s Take

One of the most surprising names left on the board after round one, Andrae doesn’t stay available for long. As Tony mentions, the future pairing of Seider and Andrae is extremely exciting. They have the potential to be the Red Wings top defensive unit down the line and could complement each other very well. After landing Alexis Lafrenière in the first round, Detroit looks to the back end and gets a first-round talent to start off the second round.

33) Ottawa Senators: Kaiden Guhle

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

Ottawa gets a first-round talent at 33rd overall when they select Kaiden Guhle from the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League. Guhle, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 187 pounds, is an imposing figure who possesses the skating and defensive ability to warrant his. He is a textbook shutdown defenseman and his size allows him to play that game successfully. He has issues with his offensive game but showed off a promising shot while recording 40 points this season in Prince Albert. However, given time to develop and being patient with his abilities, I believe that Guhle could absolutely fit into the defensive unit in Ottawa.

Bell’s Take

You might have thought that the Senators were done drafting after landing three first round picks, but nope. They have another FOUR picks in round two. They start off strong here, adding another defender after taking Jamie Drysdale third-overall. The defensive side of his game looks very promising, and that attracts the Senators here who have a number of offensive d-men in the system.

34) San Jose Sharks: Zion Nybeck

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini

Zion Nybeck has been slated to be a late first or an early second round pick. He won’t have to wait long for a team to call his name and the Sharks will pounce on the opportunity to get him. While he’s small in size, that shouldn’t be an issue for Nybeck considering his high-end offensive potential. With 66 points in 42 games, Nybeck is extremely crafty, fast and constantly aggressive when pursuing the puck and getting in on the fore-check. He’s always a threat on the ice and has a great shot, finding the net 27 times. With top-six potential, he would be great up front with the likes of Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier to help lead the offense.

Zion Nybeck HV71
Zion Nybeck of HV71 (HV71)

Bell’s Take

Yet another player that very easily could have (and should have) gone in the first round, Nybeck looks to be headed to California, providing the Sharks with some much-needed skill coming up through the prospect pool. He’s a smaller player at 5-foot-8, but the skill he has is tremendous. If he’s able take his skating to the next level, this could be a very promising selection.

35) Los Angeles Kings: Lukas Cormier

THW Writer: Nick Abramo

The Kings came out this week saying they are looking for defensemen and Cormier is one of the best prospects remaining. Jeremie Poirier has some of the best offensive skills at any position, but Cormier has shown he’s not a sieve in the defensive end and he passes and creates way more than Poirier. Size is Cormier’s only question mark and of course that’s a big question mark in the NHL. Daemon Hunt, who was the first defenseman I saw knock someone down (are we at that point now, where hitting is politically incorrect?) in the handful of highlight reels I looked at, might be a better choice here if you’re looking for studliness on D.

Bell’s Take

After not too many defenders being taken in the first round, they are rolling in the second with our third in the first four picks. And once again, it’s a potential first-round talent. After taking Stützle in the first round, the Kings build on their back end with a puck-moving defender in Cormier. The rich get richer here, as the Kings are loaded pretty much everywhere. And yet, they still have two more picks in this round. Oh boy.

36) Anaheim Ducks: Tyson Foerster

THW Writer: Eddy Jones

Well we took arguably the best shooter in the class when we selected Alexander Holtz at fifth overall. Why not go back to the well and grab another? Tyson Foerster has an absolute rocket of a shot and it’s hard to ignore his progression from his rookie season. He went from 10 goals and 23 points in 64 games last year to 36 goals and 80 points in 62 games played this season. If you want a guy who excels in the Ovechkin spot on the power play than Foerster is your man. He feasted on OHL competition this season while on the man advantage. He shot up draft rankings this season due to his impressive production and also winning the MVP of the CHL Top Prospect’s Game. As we mentioned with the Holtz selection, Bob Murray is looking for pure shooters, so why not double down with two of the best in the class.

Related: Top-10 OHL Prospects

Tyson Foerster, OHL, Barrie Colts
Tyson Foerster (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Bell’s Take

The Ducks are looking for goal scoring in a big way, landing Holtz and Foerster in the first two rounds. While Holtz, Noel Gunler, and Jack Quinn are being touted as the top shooters, Foerster might be right there with them with one of the best releases in the draft. With a top-playmaking prospect Trevor Zegras having two absolute weapons to feed, the Ducks’ offence looks like it will be scoring in bunches in the near future.

37) Nashville Predators (Via NJ): Joni Jurmo

THW Writer: Justin Haddad

The Nashville Predators would be more than thrilled to land Joni Jurmo here. They addressed their need at center in the first round when they took Connor Zary, and fill another need by taking the 17-year-old defenseman in Jurmo with the 37th pick. With Dante Fabbro graduating to the NHL this past season, taking the big 6-foot-4, 190-pound Finnish defenseman fills a big void in their system. Jurmo has all the tools to become a top-pair guy with his big strong frame, ability to eat up minutes, excellent decision making, and offensive abilities.

Bell’s Take

One of the more underrated players to start the season, Jurmo shot up draft boards this season, even seeing some first-round consideration. The Predators have had one of the best defensive teams for years now, and with the core still intact, Fabbro joining, and Jurmo waiting in the ranks, they might still hold that title for years to come. There’s another defender or two that I might look to first here, but the Finnish defender is a very Nashville pick.

38) Buffalo Sabres: John-Jason Peterka

THW Writer: Jordan Deshane

John-Jason Peterka fills a massive need in the Sabres’ prospect ranks. His blend of speed and skill will give them something they currently lack. He’s shown the ability to perform well with offensive players at the World Junior Championships but has also contributed in a depth role in the DEL. He will need to develop more consistency and will need at least a couple more seasons to mature as a player, but he could turn into an offensive contributor in the top-six if the Sabres being him along properly.

Related: Standouts from the World Juniors

John Jason Peterka EHC Muenchen
EHC Red Bull Muenchen’s John Jason Peterka (GEPA pictures/ City-Press)

Bell’s Take

The Sabres are adding an extremely skilled pick here at the 38th spot. They currently lack that in their prospect pool behind Dylan Cozens and first-round pick Marco Rossi, but Peterka brings that in a big way. All three of these players noted have very, very high offensive upsides, and sliding in with Jack Eichel, the Sabres are trending up in a big way.

39) Montreal Canadiens: Helge Grans

THW Writer: Alexandre Desrochers Ayotte

Helge Grans is a big-bodied right-handed defenseman who played in Sweden’s junior league in 2019-20, putting up 27 points in as many games. He also played 21 games in the SHL, putting up three points and a plus-four differential. Grans’ positional intelligence, mobility and size will be important factors towards his development. He excels in transition and in bringing the puck to the net, important assets for taking the next step. He has the potential to make the jump to the NHL in a few seasons, after gaining more responsibility in the Swedish Elite League in 2020-21.

Bell’s Take

Round two is the round of the defensemen so far, and the Canadiens jump at the chance to land Grans. Some have him pegged as a first-round talent, making this an intriguing pick for sure. After grabbing Cole Perfetti in the first round, Grans is an excellent choice here.

40) Montreal Canadiens (Via CHI): Brendan Brisson

THW Writer: Alexandre Desrochers Ayotte

After logging 59 points in 45 games in the USHL in 2019-20 and winning the title of rookie of the year, Brisson is committed to the University of Michigan for 2020-21. A lethal finisher with smooth skating and good hockey IQ, Brisson has established himself as a reliable, two-way player with scoring acumen and power play excellence. As the son of NHL agent Pat Brisson, Brisson has learned the game from the best players in the league, and this knowledge, combined with his skill, should help him develop consistently towards a regular spot in the NHL.

Related: Chicago Steel Set to Make an Impact on 2020 NHL Draft

Brendan Brisson Chicago Steel
Brendan Brisson of the Chicago Steel (Chicago Steel)

Bell’s Take

Oh look, it’s the Canadiens again! Our first back-to-back selections, the Canadiens get one of the biggest draft-board risers this season. Brisson is a very smart player, with a wicked one-timer that he loves to show off. Between Perfetti and Brisson, on top of the prospects already in the system, the goals look like they’ll be coming in bunches for the Habs.

41) Arizona Coyotes: Roni Hirvonen

THW Writer: Jack Dawkins

In spite of his smallish stature, Roni Hirvonen’s production numbers in Liiga, and his analytical numbers are very hard to argue with. His passing and shooting analytics are both better than fellow Liiga player (and top-10 pick) Anton Lundell, even if the final statistics tally doesn’t reflect that. If Hirvonen were two inches taller, he’s probably a top-15 pick. You can never have too much talent in your prospect center pool. Hirvonen brings to the table a top-end, high-ceiling skill package. Not only that, but he’s already shown that he’s able to play a man’s game in Liiga. His two-way play is already more advanced than some of the centers that will be drafted ahead of him. His understanding of how to play the game away from the puck might actually be his best asset. In spite of his size he has shown a willingness to go to the difficult “greasy” areas, working down low, in the corners and in front of the net. This willingness and mindset have been the pathway by which players of his size make excellent NHL careers for themselves. I won’t step out and say he’s the next Brad Marchand, but I think if you were to look at players like Marchand, Jonathan Marchessault and Cam Atkinson, you get an idea of what 5-foot-9 can do for you when it’s combined with the skill package that Hirvonen has clearly shown. Arizona absolutely needs to get a player with this kind of offensive skill package. Without a first-round pick in this draft, they’re going to have to try to find it in a player that might get overlooked for one reason or another. Hirvonen fits that bill perfectly.

Bell’s Take

Another player that I’d have pegged for the first round, the Coyotes managed to get a potential first-round talent in Hirvonen. After trading up for Victor Söderström in the 2019 NHL Draft, the club turns their attention back to forwards, picking up a very promising Finnish centreman. This might be one of those picks to look back on and think “how did he go that low?!”

42) Minnesota Wild: Jérémie Poirier

THW Writer: Justin Haddad

Jérémie Poirier needs a team like the Minnesota Wild to draft him. He oozes with offensive upside from the blue line, but his defensive play needs to be almost completely reworked. The Wild have a strong history of developing quality defenseman and their current roster is stacked on the backend. Drafting Poirier would allow them to take their time to develop him with no immediate need on the big league roster. This seems to be a dream landing spot for both parties and could be the steal of the first two rounds if Poirier gets it together defensively. This would give the Wild three very talented high-ceiling players within the first 42 picks after they drafted centers Hendrix Lapierre and Marat Khusnutdinov.

Jeremie Poirier Saint John Sea Dogs
Jeremie Poirier of the Saint John Sea Dogs (Dan Culberson/Saint John Sea Dogs)

Bell’s Take

As Justin says, if Poirier can fix the holes in his game, this might end up being a great selection. There’s one more defender on the board here that I’d likely take first in Topi Niemalä, but going for upside Poirier could make sense. In my mind, this is a low-floor, high-ceiling player, so it’s definitely a risky selection. With the state of their prospect pool after the top few guys, I’m not sure that the Wild are willing to take that risk, but if they believe in that ceiling, it could happen.

43) Winnipeg Jets: Jake Neighbours

THW Writer:

Selecting winger Jake Neighbours at 43rd overall adds even more potential to the Jets’ forward group and gives them better depth to go along with first-round selection Dylan Holloway. Neighbours plays a 200-foot game and has a gritty, nasty side to him. He has a quick first step and he is quick to get in on the forecheck and he loves to play with physicality. I feel the Jets need to add more grit and feistiness to their lineup and Neighbours will bring just that.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Rankings: Fisher’s Top 400 for May

Bell’s Take

Neighbours seems to be a polarizing prospect, ranking from the first to the third round. However, he brings a lot to the table and should slide in very well with the Jets’ offence. He’s a very in-your-face player that never quits, which Winnipeg fans will love. He has the skill to be a top-six guy and the strength and physicality to play anywhere in the lineup. He’s a player that could one day be used up and down the roster. Another good pick up here for the Jets.

44) Carolina Hurricanes (Via NYR): Kasper Simontaival

THW Writer: Matthew Zator

The Carolina Hurricanes could have a potential top-line winger here with Kasper Simontaival. He’s struggled with injuries, but his talent is undeniable as he has great speed, vision and hockey sense to go along with a solid wrist shot. He will have to work on his play without the puck and curb his injury problems to make it to the highest level, but the Canes could have steal here in the mid-second round. They have also had great success with Finnish players in the past, most recent being current star Sebastien Aho.

Kasper Simontaival Tappara
Kasper Simontaival of Tappara (Arno Hamalainen_

Bell’s Take

Could there be a more typical Hurricanes pick? A player that many have pegged for the first round, lands into the hand of Carolina? That sounds so familiar. This is a wonderful pick up for the Hurricanes, who have proved that they love their Finnish prospects. Simontaival is another player that I think could very well go in the first round and is deserving of that. Hurricanes score big here.

45) Florida Panthers: Topi Niemalä

THW Writer: Tyler Halsey

The Florida Panthers are going in a different direction with their second pick, grabbing Finnish defender Topi Niemelä. Niemelä isn’t a flashy player, he’s just solid. He always knows where to be; his biggest asset is his brain. He really fits the definition of a modern, two-way defenceman. Smooth skating, strong puck mover, solid positioning. While his upside might be lower than some, he projects as a solid pro, something Florida desperately needs on their right-defence.

Bell’s Take

There he is! Niemalä falls way too far than he deserves in my mind and the Panthers take advantage of that. The defenseman might not be a flashy player, but he’s a very promising defender that should become a solid defender. He might not be a top-two guy, but he should be a very good top-four defender. This is a great selection by the Panthers.

46) Ottawa Senators (Via CBJ): Lukas Reichel

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

The Senators have a great group of forwards coming up from the minors and junior ranks, but they do lack some depth on the wings behind Alex Formenton and Vitali Abramov. Reichel gives the group a huge boost, bringing an up-tempo game that has very few flaws already at just the age of 17. He can be relied on to create plays, score goals, and even chip in defensively. Despite the season ending prematurely, he became the second-highest scoring teenager in the DEL, behind Tim Stützle. Reichel is extremely underrated, and seeing him available at the 46th pick felt like a no-brainer.

Lukas Reichel Eisbaeren Berlin
Lukas Reichel, Eisbaeren Berlin (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Bell’s Take

Our third German comes off the board, and you could argue (once again) that it’s too low. Reichel is coming off of a very good season and is one of those players right on the bubble of the first round. The Senators have made a huge dent in this draft, and continue to do so here. It’s almost hard to believe that they still have two picks in this round…

47) Calgary Flames: Thomas Bordeleau

THW Writer: Mathieu Sheridan

Although the Calgary Flames have decent depth at centre, passing up on Thomas Bordeleau would have been a mistake. Being a highly-skilled forward, what he lacks in size, he makes up for with his wicked shot and elite vision. Bordeleau is a great skater who uses his speed to put pressure on the opposition. Given time and space, he loves to set up his teammates and can seemingly create chances out of nowhere. With the game continually shifting towards speed and skill, Bordeleau has a chance to make an impact at the next level. Given proper time to develop, I can see him sliding into a top-six role in the NHL really soon.

Bell’s Take

The Flames landed a goal scorer in round one with Jack Quinn, and now they land someone to feed him the puck in Bordeleau. He can shoot it himself, but his vision on the ice might see him as more of a playmaker at the NHL level. Mathieu is correct here in that this is a player you don’t want to pass on at this spot. He’s a borderline first-rounder for me, and landing him at 47 is a great pick up for Calgary.

48) Los Angeles Kings (Via VAN): Ty Smilianic

THW Writer: Jack Dawkins

Ty Smilanic is one of the more polarizing picks in the draft field. He’s truly ranked all over the place. I’ve seen him as high as the top 25 and as low as the third round. The one consensus about him seems to be that if his game ever all comes together, he’s going to be a major scoring threat at the NHL level. The Kings have had great luck in recent years with this kind of high-potential-ceiling prospect and it’s led to them having one of the more dynamic prospect pools in the NHL. Smilanic feels like a very “on brand” pick for the Kings. He’s a hard worker and does everything at max speed. North/South wise he’s probably one of the top skaters in the first two rounds of the draft, and he already has reasonably strong defensive instincts to complement his offensive gifts. He really put on a show at the BioSteel All-American game. It’s hard to watch a lot of footage on this player and not be excited to see what the future holds for him.

Ty Smilanic USNTDP
Ty Smilanic, USA NTDP U17 (Credit: Rena Laverty)

Bell’s Take

Jack noted the skating, but Smilanic also has a very dangerous shot. At the same time, he might be a bit of a project as he works to improve his defensive game, but he does alright. The Kings prospect pool is tops in the league and they can afford to take risks on these potential high-ceiling, low/medium-floor players. You might even call him a boom or bust guy.

49) Nashville Predators: Theodor Niederbach

THW Writer: Justin Haddad

I was actually surprised that Theodor Niederbach was still here at the 49th selection. He has been a huge riser on draft boards after missing the 2018-2019 season due to injuries and made up for lost time this season when he was back to work with powerhouse Frolunda HC J20. The Predators would be ecstatic to select him here as he is one of the smartest hockey players in the draft with elite playmaking abilities. They circle back to take another center with Niederbach, after drafting Connor Zary in the first round. He is exactly the type of high-floor, high-ceiling center that they need in their system.

Bell’s Take

Niederbach is a player that has sort of flown under-the-radar this season, especially in North American headlines. He’s an intelligent playmaker that has top-six potential. While he’s been playing in the middle, I’d expect him to slide to the wing at the next level, potentially next to Zary one day? Predators fans can hope.

50) Toronto Maple Leafs: Jaromir Pytlik

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini

Ste. Sault Marie connection aside with general manager Kyle Dubas, Jaromir Pytlik is worth being taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs with their pick. Pytlik took a big step in his development on a rebuilding Greyhounds team, earning the top centre spot. Many will look at his offensive numbers as it may not stand out compared to other prospects (50 points in 56 games). However, there’s more to love about Pytlik’s game than just the points. He’s an extremely reliable centreman that can be used in all situations. Soo head coach John Dean describes Pytlik as “playing like a pro” as he has the size, smarts, speed and ability to play a 200-foot game. If the points don’t come, he’s able to still make an impact in a shut-down role, providing support on the back-check and great positioning in his own end. With the Maple Leafs being stockpiled on wingers, Pytlik easily becomes their top centre prospect. 

Jaromir Pytlik Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Jaromir Pytlik of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Bell’s Take

He’s not a flashy player, but Pytlik is one of those players that coaches dream of. He’s a hard on the puck and makes his presence known in both ends of the ice. He might be more of a project for the Maple Leafs as he’s a bit raw still, but there’s great potential in this young player. He can be used in every situation and relied on to do well there. With all of the offensive flair on the Maple Leafs roster, a solid defensive forward is a great pick here.

51) Detroit Red Wings (Via EDM): Carter Savoie

THW Writer: Tony Wolak

The Red Wings spent time scouting and tracking Carter Gylander in Sherwood Park over the past couple of seasons. While doing so, there’s a good chance they noticed Carter Savoie lighting it up for the Crusaders. The left wing is a natural playmaker who also has a scoring touch. Savoie’s offensive instincts give him top-six upside and will make him a threat on the power play as well.

Bell’s Take

54 games, 53 goals. Say what you will about the AJHL, but Savoie dominated the league and could be an absolute steal at this spot. He’s extremely intelligent in the offensive zone, and I’ve seen flashes of him being very good in his own end. He’ll need to improve his defensive game moving forward, but this is one of the more exciting picks of this round.

52) Ottawa Senators (Via NYI): Ozzy Wiesblatt

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

Undersized forwards could end up stealing the show in 2020, and Ozzy Wiesblatt is a great candidate to lead them. Just 5-foot-10, he finished fifth in scoring among draft-eligible players in the WHL, and second on the Prince Albert Raiders, with 70 points in 64 games. He also is incredibly aggressive, playing an in-your-face style without becoming a typical pest, and has great wheels that maybe some of the best in the draft. Not only does he have great offensive instincts, but he is also able to play a tight defensive game. Maybe the best part for the Senators is he is a natural right-winger, giving the team much needed talent on that side. He’ll join teammate Kaiden Guhle, too, which is a nice touch.

Ozzy Wiesblatt Prince Albert Raiders
Ozzy Wiesblatt of the Prince Albert Raiders (Lucas Chudleigh/Apollo Multimedia)

Bell’s Take

For their sixth pick already, the Senators go out and grab a player who was very underrated for the majority of the year. If you want a player that never takes his foot off the gas, this is it. He can set up teammates, finish a play himself, or backcheck and break up a play. I’m willing to bet he’ll be a fan favourite.

53) Ottawa Senators (Via DAL): Tristan Robins

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

The Senators go for their third WHL player and second in a row with Tristan Robins, who could be one of my favourite prospects available in the middle rounds. He is a small 5-foot-10 but finished the season as the third-highest scoring draft-eligible player in the league with 73 points in 62 games, only behind first-round picks Connor Zary and Seth Jarvis. He also went on a tear to end the season, scoring 54 points in the last 33 games, and he became one of the hottest risers. While still ranked as a third-round pick, the Senators are in need of dynamic goal-scorers and Robins is definitely that. The Senators can afford to take a calculated risk with their seventh pick in the first two rounds.

Bell’s Take

Another back-to-back selection and it’s the Senators getting their seventh pick in the first 53 selections. With this pick, they might reach a bit for a player they really like, but it could pay off dividends. Robins is a smaller player, but one that can shock you with his skill. He’s a very creative player that is patient with the puck. Again, while this might be a bit of a reach, for their seventh pick this could be a very good selection.

54) Carolina Hurricanes: Jean-Luc Foudy

THW Writer: Matthew Zator

After being ranked much higher earlier in the season, Jean-Luc Foudy drops to the Canes near the bottom of the second round. Like Simontaival, he has the potential to be an impact player in the NHL, but he will need to adapt to teams learning his tendencies, just like he managed to do later in the season. His speed and offensive awareness are first-round quality, it’s his overall game that needs some development. If he can round that out, the Hurricanes will be very happy snagging him where they did. He should fit in nicely with their prospect center depth of Martin Necas, Ryan Suzuki and Morgan Geekie.

Windsor Spitfires Jean-Luc Foudy
Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires. (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Bell’s Take

One of the more polarizing prospects in the draft, especially as the season went on, Foudy is an excellent skater. He might just be one of the best skaters in the draft. He’s a great playmaker, often setting up teammates with high-danger passes and his vision is high-end as well. Let’s not forget that he started the season in most people’s first rounds. This selection has the makings of a steal.

55) Los Angeles Kings (Via VGK): Drew Commesso

THW Writer: Jack Dawkins

Goaltending is absolutely a need in the Kings’ prospect pool. It could be argued it’s the biggest area of need. After Yaroslav Askarov, there’s a fair amount of debate whom the second-best goalie in the draft is. The Kings have had good luck in recent history with American-developed goaltenders and Drew Commesso is Boston University-bound next season. He’s got the size and frame that NHL teams are looking for. His stats are good, his film is good, he’s just all-around a solid goalie prospect. His NCAA development path might be enough for certain teams to put him ahead of Joel Blomqvist or Nico Daws. Knowing he’s developing in a top tier NCAA program for up the next three years brings a certain peace of mind with it. It might seem like a bit of a reach at this point to take him, but of the goalies available beyond Askarov, I have to believe the Kings would have Commesso as their next best option. With Commesso in the discussion as possibly being the second-best goalie in the draft it’s not worth missing out on him considering the Kings have already picked three other players prior to this point.

Bell’s Take

Our second goaltender off of the board might come as a surprise to some, but Commesso is a very promising young goaltender. Earlier in the season, I wrote that he might even be the second-best goaltender in this draft class, and I still think that could be the case. You may remember that Spencer Knight was the top goalie taking in 2019, playing on a stacked U.S. National team. Commesso is on a much weaker National Team but has put up better numbers than Knight. Huh.

56) Chicago Blackhawks (Via PIT): Luke Tuch

THW Writer: Greg Boysen

After adding to their goaltending pipeline with the first-round selection of Yaroslav Askarov, the Blackhawks address another need with their second pick. While there are some dynamic scorers in Chicago like Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, they have a shortage of traditional power-forward type players to complement the talent on the perimeter. Luke Tuch has the NHL frame at 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds. He uses his size to help establish a position in front of the net and win board battles. Tuch also moves well for a bigger player and could help the Blackhawks down the line as Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad continue to get older.

Luke Tuch USNTDP
Luke Tuch, USA NTDP (Credit: Rena Laverty)

Bell’s Take

You could define Tuch as a power forward or a two-way forward, and he’d fit the bill. A physical forward that boasts a great shot, Tush is another one of those reliable players that coaches will love. He could be a top-line guy or a bottom-six player, and he’d adapt his game and succeed. That’s a very valuable trait that the Blackhawks will be very happy about.

57) Philadelphia Flyers: Sam Colangelo

THW Writer: Jack Dawkins

Philadelphia is traditionally a big, mean team and Sam Colangelo is a big mean kid who puts the puck in the net. He was a major piece of Chicago’s utterly dominant USHL run this season. He’s got a power forward’s size and skillset, but he also has an excellent shot. He’s able to score from a variety of angles, in tight or even outside the circles. He shows some tenacity in offensive zone board battles and works hard to create offensive chances even if he’s not the player shooting the puck. His playmaking ability is underrated. His abilities as a shooter force the opposing team to give him a lot of respect in that regard, and he can effectively use himself as a decoy, forcing his way into the danger area, before delivering a pass to a wide-open teammate. It’ll be interesting to see if his current ability to overpower his peers continues at the NCAA level with Northeastern. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds the kid already has a man’s body but his frame looks as though he could add another 15 to 20 pounds before his development is finished. A power forward with Colangelo’s hockey IQ and offensive gifts is something any NHL team would be happy to have.

Related: Chicago Steel’s Sam Colangelo Takes the Next Step

Bell’s Take

This was a surprising one for me. I do like what Colangelo brings, but there’s one more member of the Chicago Steel that hasn’t been taken yet and didn’t hear his name called in this round – Sean Farrell. I think I’d be looking at him at least by now, but Colangelo might be a better fit into the Flyers system. He’s a well-rounded player with potential, so this pick could work out better than I think.

58) Detroit Red Wings (Via WSH): Daniil Gushchin

THW Writer: Tony Wolak

Right in Detroit’s backyard is a dynamic forward who could slide to the end of the second round. Daniil Gushchin was one of the top players in the USHL this season and has the offensive skill set to thrive in a middle-six role. Like Andrae and Savoie, he’s a little undersized, but his work ethic and vision make up for his lack of size.

Daniil Gushchin Team Russia
Daniil Gushchin from Team Russia (Russia Hockey/FHR.RU)

Bell’s Take

Let’s review: Alexis Lafreniere, Andrae, Savoie, and now Gushchin. The Red Wings are stocking their cupboard in a very offensive way. They aren’t shying away from size (as they shouldn’t) and are drafting for upside, which is very high for all of these players. This is a solid pick at this spot. Gushchin has great vision, great hands, and great speed. He could very easily go higher than this on draft day.

59) Tampa Bay Lightning: Alexander Pashin

THW Writer: Eugene Helfrick

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Tampa Bay Lightning select an undersized Russian forward with a first-round toolkit who fell in the draft due to questions about his size and drive. Is it fair to compare Alexander Pashin to Nikita Kucherov or Brayden Point? No, not at all. But the Lightning have proven that they know how to develop a player with his abilities and would be more than thrilled to get him in the second round.

Related: 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup: Top Performances

Bell’s Take

Speaking of not shying away from size, the Lightning come up for their first pick of the draft and are shocked to see Pashin at this spot. Some have him at the end of the first, some have him in the third round, but there’s no doubting Pashin’s skill. He has a great shot that he likes to use and utilizes his creativity to create space for himself and his teammates. He’s 5-foot-8, 154 pounds, but he has high potential. High-risk, high-reward? Potentially, but it’s a bet the Lightning are willing to take.

60) San Jose Sharks (Via COL): William Villeneuve

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini

While the Sharks have a high-risk defender in Ryan Merkley as their top prospect, Villeneuve is the complete opposite. Villeneuve doesn’t have any “wow-factor” in his game, but he always makes smart and safe decisions with the puck and without the puck. He’s an effective two-way player with some offensive upside and an ability to provide consistent pressure and coverage in his own end. His offensive production had a major increase in his sophomore season, going from 19 points to 58. He’s an extremely skilled playmaker, making clean and strong passes in all three zones. He has the potential to be a great top-four option for the Sharks.

William Villeneuve Saint John Sea Dogs
William Villeneuve of the Saint John Sea Dogs (Dan Culberson/Saint John Sea Dogs)

Bell’s Take

This might be one of the bigger reaches of the draft so far, but you know what? It works. Villeneuve is an underrated player that performs at both ends of the ice. He’s an excellent passer and a very smart player. He could be exactly what the Sharks need in their system, after picking up Vasili Ponomaryov and Nybeck this round. There’s great potential in this pick.

61) Montreal Canadiens (Via STL): Yan Kuznetsov

THW Writer: Trege Wilson

Yan Kuznetsov was the only under-18 defender in the NCAA, putting up 11 points in 34 games. He has a great shot and a good first pass. But it’s his work in his own zone that makes him stand out. He’s not the best skater but still has time to grow. He already has a year in North America under his belt and provides the Habs with good depth on the left side. 

Bell’s Take

Another underrated player in this draft class, I think Kuznetsov might be one of the best defensive players in this year’s group. As the youngest player in the NCAA, he more than held his own and looked very good. He played big minutes this year, and should only continue to get better. After going for offence with their other picks, the Canadiens get a defensive boost here.

62) Boston Bruins: Justin Sourdif

THW Writer: Brandon Share-Cohen

Justin Sourdif has all the makings of an NHL player. More specifically, he has all the makings of a Boston Bruins player. As a hard-working, versatile, 200-foot player who has one of the strongest work ethics of any player in the entire class, Sourdif and the Bruins may be a match made in heaven. With the ability to play on the wing and at center, Sourdif also brings the versatility that Boston loves. He also fills their need for organizational depth at right wing.

Justin Sourdif Vancouver Giants
Justin Sourdif of the Vancouver Giants (42) protects the puck from Jordan Chudley of the Spokane Chiefs. (Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants)

Bell’s Take

The Bruins join the mock-draft party very late, making a very typical-Bruins pick here. He has that two-way game that the Bs love, and adds speed and intelligence to that. I could see him being a player that a team reaches for by this point on the actual draft day. But here, Boston takes advantage and lands a hard-working, high hockey IQ centreman.

Final Thoughts

The first 62 picks are in the books. Who’s winning the draft so far? The Senators have to be high on that list. The team has landed seven players so far: Quinton Byfield (2), Jamie Drysdale (3), Jan Myšák (21), Kaiden Guhle (33), Lukas Reichel (46), Ozzy Wiesblatt (52), and Tristan Robins (53). That group alone is enough to be a stellar draft group, but there are still five rounds to go.

There are also a few players that haven’t been taken yet that are perhaps a bit surprising. Sean Farrell is the first that comes to mind, but Antonio Stranges and Emil Viro are a couple of others. Plus, we only have two goaltenders off the board, so the Nico Daws and Joel Blomqvist watch is on for sure.

Who are you surprised is available still? Which pick surprised you? Which team has had the best draft so far? What do you think about your team’s group? Leave a comment below!

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