Drysdale Has the Potential to Surprise in Draft

The 2020 NHL Entry Draft has one of the most exciting pools of top prospects seen in recent years. The order seems to be that first will be Alexis Lafrenière, while second and third will most likely be a combination of Quinton Byfield and Tim Stuetzle, but what about after that? Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters has the potential to be the top of that next tier of prospects, and here’s why.

Related: 2007 NHL Draft – 5 Forgotten Picks

With the fourth overall pick going to the Detroit Red Wings in the first part of the 2020 Draft Lottery, they could look to fill a positional need, with the top defenceman seemingly still available at the draft. I recently implored the Twitterverse to look at some of those next top tier prospects, and if there was one from the CHL who profoundly stood out from the rest.

As of writing this article, Drysdale has well over 55 percent of the vote, and this article will look into some of the possible reasons for this electoral blowout.

Why Drysdale?

For those who don’t know, Drysdale is a defenceman who plays for the Erie Otters of the OHL and is a top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. This year, he had 47 points in 49 games for the Otters and had a strong yet subtle showing in the World Juniors for Team Canada.

One of only two 2002-born players on Team Canada’s roster, Drysdale showed maturity as he helped his country win the World Juniors before he was even drafted into the NHL. His selection, and his showing thereafter, showed the maturity and composure of a then-17-year old.

That maturity is what defines his game, and has seen him shoot up the draft rankings to be potentially selected in the top-five of the NHL Draft. There is a reason that many armchair GMs (such as myself) think that Drysdale could be the value pick of the top-10, and provide support to a team rebuilding, potentially immediately.

The Upside

First things first, the NHL comparables he is drawing would be enough to send any fan drooling. Morgan Reilly, Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar have all been thrown around in the same breath as Drysdale, for a good reason as well. Drysdale himself in an interview said he modelled his game after the Reilly and wore No. 4 to honour another tremendous puck-moving D-man, Bobby Orr, one who played most famously for the Boston Bruins long before Jamie was ever born.

Jamie Drysdale of Team OHL
Jamie Drysdale of Team OHL (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

The Erie Otters who he played for, were a mediocre team, finishing eighth of the ten Eastern-Conference teams in the OHL. It is possible that if he were on one of the top teams in the league, his point totals would be substantially more impressive, but even with the Otters, his totals stand to impress. With that, it seems Drysdale is enjoying his time with the Otters, which is promising if he gets picked-up with an NHL team who would also be a re-builder.

Is He NHL Ready?

Depending on who you ask, Drysdale is at various stages of readiness for the NHL stage. The majority of people believe that he could do with at least one more season in the CHL, but if a team needs him enough, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him carry-out the trial period in the NHL at the very least.

Bowen Byram Vancouver Giants
Bowen Byram played his first season after his NHL Entry Draft selection in the WHL.
(Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants)

In a situation very similar to Bowen Byram, there is no doubt that Drysdale will be a star of the future, just uncertainty as to when. If he does end up going to Detroit or Ottawa, they could see the need for him immediately, and be thrust into a situation far-distanced from Byram’s journey in Colorado.

What’s Next For Drysdale?

The top defenceman in the NHL Draft has had varying success in the NHL, with many becoming elite, while some struggle to even breakthrough. Just like most of the respondents in the Twitter poll, I am excited about Jamie Drysdale’s potential, and wonder just how far he can go in the league.

Related: Avs’ 1st Round Draft Picks 2014-18 – Where Are They Now?

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