Recently, all of us at The Hockey Writers got together and released a 2020 NHL mock draft. I had the pleasure of picking, along with my Canadiens’ writing counterpart, Alexandre Desrochers Ayotte, the Habs’ selections in the mock draft.
The only rule for this draft is no trading. The draft order will be as it was when the season ended according to standings, which gives the Habs the eighth overall pick, however, that could change if they defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-in round or move into the top three with a lottery pick. For now, we will say they start with the eighth pick.
8. Cole Perfetti
C/W Saginaw Spirit/OHL/18 years old/5-foot-10/185 pounds/left shot
Cole Perfetti is an excellent puck handler with great hockey IQ, compete level and skill. He was second in scoring in the OHL and had a tremendous Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He was not only the best player available (BPA) but he also fits a need for scoring on the top six for the Canadiens.
He needs to improve his skating to really make an impact at the next level, but he has the potential to be something great. With him and Cole Caufield both earning the nickname “Goal,” this would be an exciting duo to watch. Perfetti also showed his elite playmaking ability this season, making that potential duo even more intriguing.
39. Helge Grans
D Malmo Redhawks/SHL/18 years old/6-foot-3/192 pounds/right shot
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’s positional intelligence, mobility, and size will be important factors towards his development.
He excels in transitions 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. 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. Brendan Brisson
C/W Univ. of Michigan/NCAA/18 years old/5-foot-11/179 pounds/left shot
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, Brendan 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.
Here 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.
61. Yan Kuznetsov
D Univ of Connecticut/NCAA/18 years old/6-foot-3/201 pounds/left shot
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 he still has time to grow. He already has a year in North America under his belt and would provide the Habs with good depth on the left side.
Another underrated player in this draft class, 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.
With the first four picks, the Canadiens already would have a very successful draft. Perfetti is an elite top-10 pick while Brisson, Grans, and Kuznetsov – if all are still available – would provide top end quality picks in the second round. For the third rounds and beyond, the Habs hope to find another hidden gem like Brendan Gallagher or Cayden Primeau.
70. Yegor Sokolov
W Cape Breton Eagles/QMJHL/19 years old/6-foot-4/240 pounds/right shot
Sokolov is a big winger out of Russia who plays with Cape Breton Eagles in the QMJHL. He is very hard to move off the puck and has good offensive vision.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide – Updated
He has a very hard shot and knows how to get open. The major issue is his 200-foot game, which may take a few seasons to work on to reach the NHL level.
89. Dimitri Ovchinnikov
F Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk/MHL/17 years old/5-foot-10/161 pounds/left shot
A very quick skater with the ability to be a dangerous scorer. He has great vision and an even better shot, but lacks the strength and size to perform well against bigger opponents. At only 17, he still has time to develop and fill out his frame.
98. Jacob Dion
LD Drummondville Voltigeurs/QMJHL/18 years old/5-foot-9/181 pounds/left shot
Dion had 51 points in 67 games with Drummondville this season. He’s a good pinching defenseman who displays quality passing which is quick and accurate.
He is very conservative in his own end, and isn’t afraid to hit or work hard in the corners. His biggest issue at the NHL level will be his size.
105. Ronan Seeley
LD Everett Silvertips/WHL/17 years old/5-foot-11/176 pounds/left shot
Seeley is a great skater who plays an effective 200-foot game. He is very good at generating successful zone entries and can handle the puck well at top speed. Defensively he is very tough to beat, with a quick stick and a keen ability to read the play well. His lack of size and strength could prove to be an issue at the NHL level.
132. Luke Reid
D Chicago Steel/USHL/18 years old/6-foot/185 pounds/right shot
Reid will be attending the Univ. of New Hampshire next season. He is an agile defender who can generate offense. A skilled two-way player who is very good at transitioning the puck out of the zone.
138. Artur Akhtyamov
G Irbis Kazan/MHL/18 years old/6-foot-2/170 pounds/catches left
Akhtyamov is a hybrid style goalie who is aggressive in his crease and good at handling the puck. As a goalie who relies heavily on his speed and a strong push to react to shots, he needs to work on his rebound control and tends to be somewhat weak on his glove side.
He’s very energetic and active in his crease and stays calm under pressure.
163. Ben Schoen
F Youngstown Phantoms/USHL/18 years old/5-foot-8/146 pounds/right shot
Schoen is a very small but quick skater who is light on his feet. He isn’t afraid to get into corners, even with his small size, and is excellent in one on one situations. Schoen is very good at reading goalies movements but doesn’t have a powerful shot. He is committed to Penn State next season.
188. Matej Kaslik
C Malmö Redhawks J20/SuperElit/17 years old/5-foot-11/163 pounds/left shot
Had a breakout performance in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, scoring three goals and four points. He is quick and has a great release with good vision.
Kaslik is a long shot, but was ranked 66th overall back in August by THW’s Larry Fisher.
195. Xavier Simoneau
C Drummondville Voltiguers/QMJHL/19 years old/5-foot-7/176 pounds/left shot
Simoneau has incredible vision and is a very good stick handler with a strong quick pass. He would be a good over-aged player for the Habs to take a chance on. He is a great leader and improves every year, had 89 points this season in 61 games for Drummondville.
With 14 picks in this year’s draft, I would highly doubt that the Canadiens keep them all, especially anything after the third round. With the recent announcement of the new draft lottery, and the possibility of the Canadiens winning the play-in round and moving onto the playoffs, this could all change. However the draft ends up going, it was fun sitting back and playing GM and hopefully, the Habs can have as good a draft as this one was.
Trege Wilson lives in Nova Scotia and is a member of the RCN. He is a life long Habs fan and is creator and co-host of the popular Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered.