THW 2020 Mock NHL Draft: Complete Round 1

After months of delay, speculation, two NHL Draft Lotteries, and a never-before-seen playoff format, the 2020 NHL Draft is finally upon us and the order is confirmed. With that news, The Hockey Writers’ staff is back for another full first-round mock draft.

In case you missed the first mock drafts (granted, with the draft order not yet set in the first edition), here’s the full, seven-round draft, complete with analysis in the first two rounds:

Then, after the Phase 2 Draft Lottery, where the New York Rangers won the first-overall pick, The Hockey Writers’ team couldn’t wait to start drafting again, so we did a top-15 mock draft:

In this final edition, the writers made their selections and then wrote a paragraph on why they made that selection. Then, I gave my take on those picks. As with all of our mock drafts, there are no trades. Writers were locked in to those picks.

Without further adieu, with the first selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, the New York Rangers select…

1) New York Rangers: Alexis Lafrenière, LW, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)

Scouting ReportAlexis Lafrenière – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Ian McNaughton

With the first overall selection, the New York Rangers take Alexis Lafrenière from the Rimouski Océanic. It’s the obvious choice as Lafrenière is a can’t-miss prospect and has a chance to be a superstar in this league. This makes sense from the Rangers’ perspective, as they look to acquire talented players to help get them through a tenacious Metropolitan Division for years to come.

Alexis Lafrenière Rimouski Oceanic
Alexis Lafrenière of the Rimouski Oceanic (Photo by Vincent Ethier/CHL)

Over the offseason, keep an eye on where Rangers’ head coach David Quinn decides to put Lafrenière. I’d love to see him at the second-line, left-wing position with Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko, but it’s a crowded position with Hart Trophy-finalist Artemi Panarin and recently re-signed Chris Kreider. A full NHL training camp would do wonders for him, although it’s unclear when non-playoff teams will step on the ice again. Don’t be shocked if Lafrenière turns out to be a star in New York.

Bell’s Take

What a shocking start! Not. There seems to be little-to-no question that Lafrenière will be the number one pick the upcoming draft. He has one of the best resumes of a CHL prospect ever, challenging Connor McDavid in that regard. He may not be a generational talent, but he could be a franchise cornerstone for the Rangers for years to come. Ian is right that the left-wing is a bit jammed for the foreseeable future but I doubt the Rangers pass up on Lafrenière because of that. Although, I’m sure the Los Angeles Kings would be very happy if they were able to land the QMJHL star.

2) Los Angeles Kings: Los Angeles Kings: Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

Scouting ReportQuinton Byfield – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Zack Weiner

Last season, Quinton Byfield put up 82 points in 45 games for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. He’s is a large player at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, something that is certainly beneficial. Byfield is also one of the youngest players in the draft class, giving him at least another year to develop outside of the NHL. Byfield is often compared to Evgeni Malkin, so to add a player of his caliber to a rebuilding team such as the Kings is super valuable. Many have talked about Byfield going first overall, so if the Kings get a chance to take him at second overall, that is a lot to pass up on.

Sudbury Wolves Quinton Byfield
Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves (Photo by Chris Tanouye/CHL)

Although positionally it may not be the right fit, as the Kings have a plethora of center prospects, it’s not as big of a deal as many are making it out to be. First off, the Kings aren’t looking to go on a run next season or likely the season after, so it is okay to have some holes in the lineup, as they can fix this further down the road. Also, it is inevitable that Anze Kopitar will eventually phase out of his career, and although they have a couple number one center options already, there are none that will likely reach the potential of Byfield. While it is important to draft with positional needs in mind, when you have a player like Byfield, you have to take him, as the opportunity won’t come around again.

Bell’s Take

In my mind, there’s no question that Byfield is the number two player in this draft class. His ceiling is sky-high and I think he has the potential to be a first-line centre at the NHL. Imagining a one-two punch of Byfield and 2019 first-rounder Alex Turcotte is absolutely terrifying. However, as Zack mentioned, the Kings are packed down the middle. Could Tim Stützle make more sense here? It’s very possible. You can bet that this has been a long discussion in the Kings front office as well. That being said – Byfield is the right choice.

3) Ottawa Senators (via SJS): Tim Stützle, C, Mannheim (DEL)

Scouting ReportTim Stützle – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

The third-overall pick will ultimately come down to who the Kings select. As they went for the big centre from Ontario in Byfield, the Senators will go for Stützle. The German has an incredible head for the game, which was on full display for North American audiences at the 2020 World Junior Championship. His primary skill is his playmaking and he can set up teammates with incredible passes – he led all German forwards in assists at the WJC with five in five games, and of his 34 points last season in the DEL, 27 of them were assists.

Tim Stutzle of Adler Mannheim
Tim Stutzle of Adler Mannheim (Adler Mannheim)

But he’s no slouch when facing down the goalie either. And his incredible stick work and high-end speed help him blow by opponents. That deadly combination set a record for most points by an under-18 player in the German men’s league. On top of a very high work ethic and elite hockey intelligence, there is very little, it seems, he cannot do. With the Senators, he’ll instantly make those around him better and help create a dynamic scoring line, which the team desperately needs.

Bell’s Take

It seems all but confirmed that the top three in this draft will be Lafrenière, Byfield, and Stützle. Dayton is right that the Senators selection here depends on what the Kings do, and you better believe that Sens fans will be anxiously hoping that Byfield falls right into their lap. Stützle is a great consolation prize, but landing that future No. 1 centre at third overall would be the dream. Stützle would come in as the undisputed No. 1 prospect though and could be very close to the NHL level after playing against men in the DEL. Senators fans may be sad to miss Byfield, but you’ll be happy with Stützle. Plus, you have two more picks this round. You’ll be VERY happy.

4. Detroit Red Wings: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Scouting Report: Marco Rossi – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Tony Wolak

I’m sticking with Marco Rossi at No. 4. The Red Wings need a second elite center to pair with Dylan Larkin and Rossi could step into an NHL role right away. More importantly, the Austrian center has the potential to become a line-driving franchise cornerstone and fits well into Steve Yzerman’s vision for Detroit’s next dynasty. Once Rossi adapts to the size and speed of the NHL, look out.

Related: Red Wings Prospect Rankings & Outlook

MArco Rossi Ottawa 67s
Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s (Credit: CHL Images)

Bell’s Take

Honestly, this probably isn’t the pick I would make here, but this is still a great pick. Say what you will about Rossi’s size, but there’s no doubt that the Austrian is one of the best player in this draft class. If you need proof, just take a look at his CHL-leading (yes, ahead of Lafrenière) 120-point season in 2019-20. By no means can you go wrong with this selection, as the centreman could be one of the best players to come out of this class. He could even be closer to the NHL that many people think. Landing on the Red Wings could even accelerate that timeline.

5) Ottawa Senators: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frölunda HC (SHL)

Scouting ReportLucas Raymond – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

There are a few more options for the Senators at fifth overall, from center Cole Perfetti to defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson. Ottawa has needs all over their depth chart, but the biggest is on the wing. So, with that in mind, the team should take Raymond. Like Stützle, he’s proven that he can do almost anything on the ice thanks to an incredible hockey sense, speed, and work ethic. He makes those around him better, as well, which sometimes comes at the cost of recordable stats; in almost every category, fellow Swede Alexander Holtz outmatched him. But it’s the intangibles that make Raymond such a dynamic prospect, as he can play on both the power play and penalty kill thanks to a very active stick and intense forecheck. He’s a player that makes things happen around him, which is another area the Senators need, and together with Stützle, the team will become a nightmare to play against in all areas of the ice. 

Lucas Raymond Frolunda Indians
Lucas Raymond of the Frolunda Indians (Photo: Tommy Holl TT)

Bell’s Take

The Senators just landed German-sensation Stützle – enough to boost the prospect pool a great deal – but in adding Raymond, they land the prospect I’ve had locked in at No. 3 all season long. Fellow THW draft analyst Larry Fisher even has him at No. 2. I can’t say enough good things about Raymond. I really believe that he’s going to be one of those players that we look back at this draft and think “how did no one see it?!” I see you, Raymond. The Senators have sped up their rebuild and improved their outlook in a very big way with these two selections in the top five – and there’s still another selection to come.

6) Anaheim Ducks: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djugårdens (SHL)

Scouting ReportAlexander Holtz – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Stephen Dohner

For me this pick came down to three players; Lucas Raymond, Jamie Drysdale, and Alexander Holtz. My first choice was Raymond, but he went the pick before. That left it between a high-skill, puck-moving defenseman who can run a power play or a talented winger with perhaps the best finishing ability in the league. In the end, I felt that Holtz’s overwhelming shot was too good to pass on. I understand all of the issues with drafting for positional needs, and I think that’s generally the best way to look at the draft.

Alexander Holtz Djurgarden
Alexander Holtz, Djurgarden (Photo by ERIK SIMANDER/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)

On the other hand, I don’t think drafting for skill is quite the same. Anaheim has struggled to score goals over the last few seasons, and while there are a few players in the pipeline who might be able to provide depth scoring, the Ducks lack a true goal-scoring talent. Enter one Holtz. Whether he plays next to playmaking wizard Trevor Zegras, or on a line of his own, Holtz has the kind of high-end goal-scoring potential that could make a huge difference for Anaheim at even strength and on the power play.

Bell’s Take

I definitely agree with Stephen that this pick, given what’s on the table, comes down to Holtz and Drysdale (Cole Perfetti could be interesting as well though). However, I think I’d lean towards Drysdale as I explained further in my last Draft Mailbag. To summarize, the Ducks have taken a ton of forwards in the draft recently and adding a high-end defender to that group seems like the best fit. After all, the forwards need someone feeding them the puck. Drysdale fits that very well. That being said, imaging elite playmaker Zegras feeding Holtz might be too good to pass up. The Ducks could be put in a very interesting situation if this is the case.

7) New Jersey Devils: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie Otters (OHL)

Scouting ReportJamie Drysdale – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Alex Chauvancy

With the first six teams going on a run of forwards, that left Drysdale and Perfetti as the top choices for the Devils. My thought has always been to take a forward at seventh overall. But given how things played out, Drysdale was a no-brainer. He may be 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, but that shouldn’t be a problem for him. He’s an excellent skater and an incredibly sound defender. He rarely makes mistakes in the defensive zone. And when he does, he’s able to make up for it because of his skating ability. Adding Drysdale to the Devils’ system gives them a great core to build their defense around, along with Ty Smith, for the next five to ten years. He immediately becomes their top prospect and gets the Devils off to a strong start with the first of their three first-round picks.

Jamie Drysdale, OHL, Erie Otters
Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Bell’s Take

After somehow landing Raymond in the first two THW Mock Drafts, the teams prior came to their senses and didn’t give the Devils the chance. Yet this time, they let the top defender in the class slip to them. At No. 7, I don’t think Drysdale is a player you can say no to if he’s there. He does have top-two potential and he fits the mould of the puck-moving defensemen that we’re seeing take over the NHL. I know Devils fans want a winger here, but with Raymond and Holtz off the board, this is very much the best option available.

8) Buffalo Sabres: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

Scouting ReportCole Perfetti – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Ryan Womeldorf

The Buffalo Sabres have a dearth of goal-scoring power after Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, and Victor Olofsson. So, taking Perfetti here only makes sense. While his skating can use a bit of work, Perfetti has a natural nose for the net and hands that might be the best in the class overall. Though there is some question about his natural position, Perfetti has a high hockey IQ that allows him to read the play and stay a step ahead. The Sabres need a guy with the ability to score and Perfetti fits that in spades. With some comparisons to Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki, the ceiling is very high for Perfetti.

Saginaw Spirit Cole Perfetti
Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit (Credit: Saginaw Spirit / OHL)

Bell’s Take

With the selection of Perfetti, the Buffalo Sabres could have one of the best centre pools in the league with Eichel, Dylan Cozens, and now Perfetti. It would be interesting to see how this played out, if Perfetti or Cozens shifted to the wing at some point to get them both in the top six, but that’s very much a decision for later. For now – this is a great choice. The dynamic forward will give the Sabres another elite prospect along with Cozens and a fixture that could help right the sinking ship that has been the Sabres in recent years.

9) Minnesota Wild: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)

Scouting ReportAnton Lundell – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Rob Klein

It is no secret the Minnesota Wild need playmakers at the center position to go along with the emergence of dynamic wingers Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov. Lundell was productive playing for Finland’s elite SM-liiga at 0.91 points per game and possesses good size at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds. According to most scouting reports, Lundell possesses a powerful skating stride with great puck protection. He is strong on his stick and the puck but is not really an elusive stickhandler. He has a heavy shot, he dominates down low, and is then able to thread touch passes through traffic to hit wingers in good scoring areas. He pays attention to every detail. He’s strong on face-offs and responsible defensively. He plays a complete 200-foot game that should translate well at the NHL level.

Anton Lundell IFK Helsinki
#15 Anton Lundell of IFK Helsinki during the Liiga Regular Season match between IFK Helsinki and Assat Pori at Helsinki 2019 on March 14, 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Samuli Seila/IFK Helsinki)

Bell’s Take

I know some people aren’t sold on Lundell, but as long as most of the above players don’t slip, I believe Lundell is the top choice (I actually had him at No. 7 in my final rankings). Outside of Lafrenière, I feel pretty confident in Lundell being the next safest pick in this draft. He’s on the older end of the draft, but he plays like it – so mature, so poised, so intelligent. He’s already completed two years of playing against men in the Liiga, and after spending one more year there, could be breaking down the NHL door.

10) Winnipeg Jets: Seth Jarvis, RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Scouting ReportSeth Jarvis – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Matthew Zator

The Winnipeg Jets need to restock their cupboard with more skilled forward prospects, especially on the right wing. Winnipeg’s own Seth Jarvis fits the bill as a winger who plays with a lot of speed, energy, and skill. He’s also a tremendous playmaker with great defensive awareness and is already a proficient penalty killer. Those skills should impress his coaches right away at the NHL level. In fact, that’s probably what will get him to the NHL sooner rather than later.

Seth Jarvis Portland Winterhawks
Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks. (Keith Dwiggins/Portland Winterhawks)

Jarvis may be a little undersized at 5-foot-10, but in a league that is trending towards smaller, more skilled forwards, that shouldn’t be a detriment to his development. The fact that he already understands the defensive side of the game and knows how to translate that defence into offence means that he is already ahead of most offensively inclined prospects. He’s a high energy player that plays a very cerebral game, which should translate very well to head coach Paul Maurice’s system.

Bell’s Take

This is a little higher than I would personally take Jarvis (but not by much) and I think the Jets will be looking at a defender potentially, but boy, does this ever fit. Jarvis is definitely a player I could see someone betting on for the top 10, and the Jets would be a good fit. Growing up in their back yard certainly would aid in that connection. The high-compete player has a motor that never quits, and I have no question that he’ll be a fan favourite where ever he ends up.

11) Nashville Predators: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Scouting ReportJack Quinn – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Josh Polanski

Jack Quinn, who finished second in goals in the OHL, rose to the top of prospect lists rather rapidly. After not making Larry Fisher’s top-124 pre-season rankings, he rose to 15th overall on Fisher’s final list after scoring 52 goals and 89 points on the Ottawa 67’s – despite playing on a separate unit from the top-notch talent of Rossi. It’s possible he could have kept rising had the season not come to an abrupt end before the playoffs. Being one of the oldest players in the draft, he’s widely considered NHL ready – and the Nashville Predators will need NHL ready goal scorers after this free agency hits.

Jack Quinn Ottawa 67's
Jack Quinn of the Ottawa 67’s (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Quinn’s 50-plus goals help him join an elite set of seven former OHLers who have tallied 50-plus seasons in their draft season—of those seven, five of those being Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jeff Skinner, and Alex DeBrincat. With his speed and creativity, he is able to make open ice in situations where it seemed impossible and his flexibility in the ways he scores make him one of the best finishers in his class. His reliable play in the defensive zone and on the powerplay, along with his track record of bulking up at every new level, only increase his potential to be a top-six forward in Nashville.

Bell’s Take

Quinn is a player that a lot of people think could go in the top half of the first round, but personally, I’m not one of them. That being said, the Predators could be a very good fit for the sniper. The Predators have some excellent defenders, including the 2020 Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi, but the need to add some depth up front, preferably with some goal-scoring talent. That could very well be Quinn.

12) Florida Panthers: Jake Sanderson, D, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

Scouting ReportJake Sanderson – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Eddy Jones

There were a lot of young talented wingers on the board at this selection, but with the likes of Grigori Denisenko and Owen Tippett on the way for the Panthers I could pass up a future one-two punch on the blue line of Jake Sanderson and Aaron Ekblad. Anton Stralman and Keith Yandle will both be 34 at the start of the 2020-21 season and the Panthers are in desperate need of an injection of youth into their blue line. Sanderson is an extremely efficient player, excelling in both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. He makes transition up the ice look easy and has the ability to finish players and set-up teammates in opposition territory.

Jake Sanderson USNTDP
Jake Sanderson, USA NTDP (Credit: Rena Laverty)

At 6-foot-1, he has the size to excel in the NHL and his ability to control the play will work nicely alongside Ekblad. The Panthers will be tempted to take a pure goal scorer if someone like Noel Gunler is still on the board, but Sanderson’s potential upside is too good to pass up on.

Bell’s Take

Full disclosure – Sanderson won’t be here at No. 12. It’s very likely that he’s a top-10 prospect, and I don’t think he’ll make it past the Jets. However, jumping on him at 12 for the Panthers could just be perfect. The smooth-skating defender could very well be a one-and-done player in the NCAA in 2020-21, jumping to the Panthers the year after. Florida could be a team right on the edge of success, and adding one of the best defenders of this class could help that in a big way.

13) Carolina Hurricanes (via TOR): Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)

Scouting ReportYaroslav Askarov – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Mathieu Sheridan

When Yaroslav Askarov became available to me with the 13th overall pick, I knew I had to take him. Considered one of the best goalie prospects of the past decade, he has the chance to be a game-breaker when he is fully developed. I think the Hurricanes would be a great place for him as they don’t have a for-sure goalie prospect for the future. Yes, they have shown that they can be a good team with Petr Mrazek and James Reimer manning the net but adding someone like Askarov to the system would solidify that position for years to come.

Yaroslav Askarov Team Russia
Team Russia’s Yaroslav Askarov (Russia Hockey/FHR.RU)

When Askarov steps into his crease, it’s almost as if he becomes a machine. He is so good at stopping pucks in traffic and if he does let in a bad goal, it does not phase him. He moves effortlessly across his crease and is more than capable of playing the puck as well. An NHL comparison that I’ve continually heard is Carey Price and I don’t think that is far off. Both goalies are both always calm in net and make saves look effortless.

Bell’s Take

The Hurricanes are just entering their contention phase. You could say they entered it last season with an impressive Stanley Cup Playoffs run. They impressed again this year, and they did it on the backs of their young, star talent. They are opening a door that could be open for years, and landing a goalie that is often in the conversation of Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevsky is a no brainer – and could keep that door open even longer. With young talent up front and on defense, adding the next star goaltender could be the best option for the Hurricanes – if he’s available.

14) Edmonton Oilers: Rodion Amirov, LW, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)

Scouting ReportRodion Amirov – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Sean Mallon

While my true belief is that this is the perfect year for the Oilers to trade away their first in return for more immediate help either in offensive depth or on the back end, the rules of the mock draft did not permit that. Thus, after Carolina scooped up the goaltender I was eyeing in Askarov, I pivoted to an offensive standout in Amirov. While the Oilers’ history with Russian draft picks is decidedly checkered, the law of averages suggests one will eventually work out in their favour. His standout performance in the 2019 World Under 18’s, potting six goals and nine points in only seven games should hopefully be a sign of things to come. While the Oilers have issues defensively, there is help on the way, and the winger has a better chance of making the big club within a year or two than another defensive prospect would.

Rodion Amirov Team Russia
Rodion Amirov of Team Russia (Vincent Ethier/LHJMQ)

Bell’s Take

After taking Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg in back-to-back years, the time to draft a forward is now. Rodion Amirov, one of the best wingers in this draft, could be the answer. He has one of the most mature games of any prospect eligible this year and shows that off at both ends of the rink. He is one of my personal favourite players to watch, and pairing him with the defensively-struggling top six that is the Oilers could be an excellent balance. I like this pick a lot.

15) Toronto Maple Leafs (via PIT): Braden Schneider, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Scouting ReportBraden Schneider – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini 

With a franchise goalie (Askarov) and a solid two-way, competitive forward (Amirov) being taken, the Maple Leafs could’ve taken another best available player with their pick. Instead, the Leafs selected Schneider who is an essential, positional need for the team. 

The Maple Leafs lack a steady two-way defenseman on the back end to the fill out the right side. Schneider is a highly competitive defenseman with the ability to make an impact at both ends of the ice. He has a great stride, which allows him to move the puck up and jump into the rush whenever he needs to. He has great power behind his shot and can sneak in and pressure defenders. Schneider’s awareness and decision-making without the puck is where he thrives. He has a great reach to break up plays, able to separate the opposition easily with his size and close the gap on forwards. Not to mention he’s able to bring a nasty side, making open ice hits and being aggressive along the boards. 

Braden Schneider Brandon Wheat Kings
Braden Schneider of the Brandon Wheat Kings (Tim Smith)

There is currently a lot of hype surrounding him. If he continues to progress, could he be a top-pairing player? It’s possible, but let’s take him for what he is. Schneider is going to be a solid player in the Maple Leafs top-four and could be in the NHL sooner rather than later. 

Bell’s Take

Oh, Peter. Does this pick make sense for the Maple Leafs? Sure. But personally, I think there are better options at this spot. However, Schneider could very well be a long-term answer to a problem that the team has had for as long as anyone can remember. On top of being a right-shot D, he’s a defensive defender that could very well be a top-four player in the NHL. He is one of the more NHL-ready players, and I do think he’s one of the better defenders in this class. I will say though, this is a pick that a lot of people think general manager Kyle Dubas will make. When does he ever do what the public thinks?

16) Montreal Canadiens: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Scouting ReportConnor Zary – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Blain Potvin

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin would jump at the chance to select Connor Zary if he’s available at 16th overall. The Canadiens are in need of more scoring skill in the prospect pool and Zary provides that. The 6-foot, 181-pound, left-handed center will not solve any issues for the Habs in the next few seasons, however, his addition would add to a very deep pool of talented centers.

Connor Zary Kamloops Blazers
Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers (Allen Douglas)

As a late 2001 birthday, Zary’s 200-foot game is further ahead than some other 2020 draft-eligible centers, however, that is the exact style of player the Canadiens have focussed on in recent drafts. His offensive style of generating the transition from solid defensive play then attacking the high danger areas on the offensive zone translates well to the NHL. His consistency may be the one aspect of his game that would convince them to choose Zary over any other available player.

Bell’s Take

While I believe a player like Dawson Mercer may be too good (and closer to home) than Zary, I think Blain nailed the description and how the talented centre could fit. I also think that while Zary’s back end of the season tailed off slightly compared to the front, he had a very successful season. He’s a player that I think could end up going higher than people think. Landing Cole Caufield last year and then stealing Zary this year? The Canadiens, with one of the best prospect pools in the league, could be laughing in a few years at their luck in the draft and their stacked, young team.

17) Chicago Blackhawks: Noel Gunler, W, Luleå HF (SHL)

Scouting ReportNoel Gunler – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Greg Boysen

The Blackhawks’ most pressing long-term need is between the pipes, but since Askarov is off the board we must head in another direction this round. Gunler is the best player on the board and probably should have been gone by now.

Noel Gunler Lulea HF
Noel Gunler, Lulea HF (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)

If you watched any of the Stanley Cup playoff series versus the Vegas Golden Knights, you saw the Blackhawks need more players who bring size, speed and offense to the lineup. At 6-foot-2, Gunler uses his size to his advantage and gets the front of the net to score. However, he doesn’t always have to get the “dirty areas” of the ice to produce because he has one of the best shots in the entire draft class. His defensive play is underrated and some teams may have been scared off because of Gunler’s lack of international play. The Blackhawks could be getting a steal with the young winger falling to them at No. 17.

Bell’s Take

Just imagine this: Kirby Dach and Noel Gunler. That is extremely dangerous. Dach could be one of the next best all-round players in the league (think prime Jonathan Toews), and Gunler could be one of the next great goal scorers (think Patrick Kane). The way that the Blackhawks have rebuilt while remaining fairly competitive is impressive, injecting the team with young talent while keeping some of their Stanley Cup-winning core together. Gunler could very much help lead the Blackhawks into their next window of contention.

18) New Jersey Devils (via ARI): Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

Scouting ReportMavrik Bourque – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Alex Chauvancy

Having gone with Drysdale at seventh overall, there was no doubt I was taking a forward here. With Quinn, Jarvis, Amirov, and Gunler off the board, Mavrik Bourque seemed like the right fit for the Devils, given their need for scoring wingers. Bourque finished this season with 71 points in 49 games for the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL. His shot has always been a strength of his, but he made a noticeable improvement in his playmaking ability this past season — he averaged 0.85 assists per game compared to 0.45 in 2018-19. Though listed as a center, Bourque has played plenty at right-wing in the past. And given his makeup, it’s easy to see his game projecting well on the wing in the pros. He’ll have to play in the top-six in the NHL, as he’s not the best defensively. But if it’s alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier, he should be just fine.

Shawinigan Cataractes Mavrik Bourque
Mavrik Bourque of the Shawinigan Cataractes (Photo: Olivier Croteau)

Bell’s Take

Once again, this is likely a spot I’d look at someone like Dylan Holloway or Mercer, but as Alex says, Bourque could be an excellent fit for the Devils. With Hughes and Hischier manning the top-two middle spots for the foreseeable future, Bourque could fit alongside them extremely nicely along with sniper Nolan Foote. The Devils’ top-six looks to be coming along very nicely with the edition of the highly underrated Bourque.

19) Calgary Flames: Dylan Holloway, C/W, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

Scouting ReportDylan Holloway – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Andrew Forbes

The Flames took Holloway in the mock draft because it was a mix of best available player and organizational need at that time in the draft. Holloway is an 18-year-old that has the ability to play up the middle or on the left side and comes with decent size at 6-foot-1 and just over 200 pounds. In his first year in with the University of Wisconsin, he had 17 points in 35 games to go along with 49 penalty minutes, but he has shown the ability to explode on the offensive end as he did with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers in 2018-19 with 40 goals and 88 points in 53 games. He plays with an edge and while the Flames have prospects in Jakob Pelletier and Mathias Emilio Pettersen that fill the same positional needs as Holloway, he could slide in above both in the team’s overall prospect rankings when it’s all said and done.

Dylan Holloway University of Wisconsin
Dylan Holloway of the University of Wisconsin (Greg Anderson/UW Athletics)

Bell’s Take

In my mind, this is an absolute steal for the Flames. Holloway should likely be considered closer to 10 than 20 in my mind, and landing him at 19 could be very good for the Flames. Don’t let his numbers this season fool you, Holloway is an extremely talented centreman that I think will surprise people in 2020-21. Holloway could serious challenge Pelletier for the top-prospect title in the Calgary system.

20) New Jersey Devils (via VAN): Lukas Reichel, LW, Eisbären Berlin (DEL)

Scouting ReportLukas Reichel – 2020 Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Alex Chauvancy

I went off the board a bit by selecting Lukas Reichel with the 20th pick, but he seems like a player on the rise. He came in ranked 20th overall in Bob McKenzie’s top 93, and that was before an impressive showing with the German national team in a U20 exhibition against Switzerland earlier this summer. Reichel had 24 points in 42 games this past season playing for Eisbären Berlin in the DEL — the top German league. He’s an offensive winger who knows how to score from high-danger areas. And that largely stems from his offensive hockey IQ, which will be a strength of his when he makes it to the NHL. Reichel may only be 6-foot, 172 pounds, but that’s not the worst thing when drafting a player. He’s also one of the younger prospects in this draft class, as he just turned 18 in May. It might take a couple of years in the DEL and even the AHL before he’s ready to make the Devils’ roster. But drafting in the first round is all about upside, and Reichel checks off that box with flying colors.

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

Bell’s Take

So, to recap, the Devils have added Drysdale, Bourque, and Reichel to their prospect pool – in the top-20 picks of the draft. Well, that is just remarkable. They are pushing hard for the top prospect pool in the league with these editions, considering we’re not even out of the first round. Reichel is coming into the league as part of German trio. While there’s some discussion between John-Jason Peterka and Reichel, I think Alex nailed this selection. The future of the Devils is very much looking up, and other teams should be taking notice.

21) Columbus Blue Jackets: Dawson Mercer, RW, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

Scouting ReportDawson Mercer – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Mark Scheig

The Blue Jackets are gift wrapped a crafty, skilled offensive player in Mercer. He was depended upon to produce in the QMJHL and was good enough to crack a tough Team Canada roster at the last World Juniors. Although he didn’t produce points in the tournament, you could see the value he brought. He didn’t let his lack of size stop him from making an impact in games. Whether he rushed down the wing or attacked the middle of the ice, Mercer is fearless and then uses his skill and hockey sense to make plays. Some improvement in his skating and more consistency will be the key to his future. But the upside is evident. He has the chance to be an impact winger in the NHL. 

Dawson Mercer Drummondville Voltigeurs
Dawson Mercer, formerly of the Drummondville Voltigeurs (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

Bell’s Take

If there’s a biggest steal of this draft so far, this is it. Mercer is a player that should be in the top half of this round. Instead, Mercer falls into the laps of the never-count-them-out Blue Jackets, immediately becoming the top prospect (assuming Liam Foudy is considered graduated, but potentially even with him). Mercer brings high-end talent and experience to the blue Jackets system, and his personable attitude should make him a fan favourite very soon.

22) New York Rangers (via CAR): Tyson Foerster, C/W, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Scouting ReportTyson Foerster – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Ian McNaughton

The Rangers, who acquired this pick in the Brady Skjei trade at the 2020Trade Deadline, are playing with house money here and go with Barrie Colts forward Tyson Foerster at 22nd overall. Foerster is primarily a right-winger but took over 300 faceoffs last season for them so there is potential for him to do so at an NHL level. The real reason you’re drafting him, however, is for his scoring ability.

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

In 62 games for Barrie in 2019-20, Foerster had 80 points, including 36 goals. He’s been compared to Alex Ovechkin because of how impressive his shot is, especially in the left faceoff circle. His biggest weakness is his skating, which can be fixable, especially if he plays another year of junior hockey. This would be a solid pick for the Rangers at 22nd overall, especially if he can become a top-six forward in the future.

Bell’s Take

I’ve long been a fan of Foerster and with him working hard on his skating this offseason, I think this could be another steal of a pick. The Rangers have a very dangerous looking young squad – and they added Lafreniere to start off this draft. Woah. Imagining the No. 1 pick feeding Foerster in the circle for the one-timer is very exciting. I really like this selection.

23) Philadelphia Flyers: Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

Scouting ReportHendrix Lapierre – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Bell’s Take

Hendrix Lapierre started this season looking like a sure-fire top-10 pick, but a series of injuries (concussions and neck injuries) have seen that drop. Sometimes out of the first round altogether. However, while there are questions about his durability, there are no questions about the level of talent. He could very well be one of the best playmakers in the class. If his health concerns are behind him, he will be a likely candidate to shoot up re-drafts for years to come.

Hendrix Lapierre Chicoutimi Saguenéens
Chicoutimi Saguenéens player Hendrix Lapierre (Credit: André Emond)

Looking at how he fits into the Flyers system, he would join a young core that is looking very promising. I think he could truly challenge Morgan Frost for the title of top Flyers prospect. Imaging him being the eventual replacement of Claude Giroux is not completely out of the question. This selection could be one of the better picks of the first round if Lapierre reaches his potential.

24) Colorado Avalanche: Marat Khusnutdinov, C, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

Scouting ReportMarat Khusnutdinov – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Chris Haddad

I think the Colorado Avalanche swing for the fences in the first round, selecting Russian center Marat Khusnutdinov. The Avs have enough center depth to last them three to four years as Khusnutdinov develops overseas. Style-wise, he is exactly the type of player that Avs head coach Jared Bednar loves. He is aggressive at both ends of the ice, transitions well, has great vision down the ice, and uses his high hockey IQ creatively. Obviously he’s not at his level yet, but Khusnutdinov’s stick handling and ability to confuse opponents remind me a lot of Pavel Datsyuk. He’ll become an instant fan favorite.

Marat Khusnutdinov Team Russia
Marat Khusnutdinov of Team Russia (Russia Hockey/FHR.RU)

By the start of 2021-22, Khusnutdinov would have completed at least two seasons in the MHL, Russia’s top juniors league and maybe one in the KHL, the top adult league. The Avs will not have a spot for him for a couple more seasons if they re-sign bottom-six centers Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare, JT Compher, or Tyson Jost. They will likely move Khusnutdinov to the AHL in 2022-23 since Loveland, CO is slightly closer to Denver than St. Petersburg, Russia. Khusnutdinov is an uncommon good who’s sure to make a big impact whenever he lands in the NHL.

Bell’s Take

Khusnutdinov might be one of the most exciting prospects to watch in this draft. The Colorado Avalanche have the talent in their system and on their current roster to justify picking anyone, at any position. They choose wisely, adding a dynamic player that can really bring it all. His playmaking is exceptional and he looks even better early on in the 2020-21 MHL season. Avalanche fans are going to enjoy watching him blossom into a potential star.

25) Washington Capitals: Jacob Perreault, C/W, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Scouting ReportJacob Perreault – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Jack Dawkins

Jacob Perreault is a center/wing with one of the most lethal shots in this draft. He’s honestly about on par with Holtz. He’s 5-foot-11 but he has a stocky frame, listed at 198 pounds. It’s a little shocking for me to see him still here at 25th overall. Teams are always looking for more goal scoring and this kid is the best in this class at putting pucks in the net from bad or awkward angles. He doesn’t need the perfect setup, he just plain scores goals. Sarnia was also not a deep team this year so Perreault had to create a lot of his offensive chances on his own.

Jacob Perreault Sarnia Sting
Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

The threat of his shot allows him to also be an underrated playmaker. Teams forced to respect the pin-point accurate shot, also found themselves picked apart by equally pinpoint passing. These attributes combined to make Perreault one of the most dangerous, draft-eligible one-man shows in the OHL this season. There are other aspects of his game that need some work. If he wants to be a top-six center in the NHL he’s going to have to work on his defensive zone play. His ability to adapt to changing situations can also be questioned.

However, the Capitals do not have a lot of high-level offensive talent in their prospect pool right now. If Connor McMichael graduates to the NHL next season, Perreault would immediately be the best forward in the pool. His threat to potentially become a high volume goal-scoring wing in the NHL could time him to become the new primary scoring threat in Washington when Ovechkin’s career winds down. If he does pan out as a center, Washington is set to have a potent one-two punch in McMichael/Perreault for the future. Either way, with Perrault, the Capitals get incredible value at the 25th slot.

Bell’s Take

While I think there’s a bigger gap between Holtz’ and Perreault’s shot than Jack does, I’m confident that it’s one of the best in this class. The potential McMichael-Perreault connection could very well be a slightly lesser version of Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin, which even on a lesser level is extremely exciting. Perrault may be a player that I value slightly less than others, but if you like goals, Perrault’s your guy as he can get them in bunches.

26) St. Louis Blues: Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Scouting ReportRyan O’Rourke – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Stephen Ground and Ethan Carter

They say you can never have too much of a good thing, so we have no hesitation taking O’Rourke here and adding to our depth on the left side on defense. Facing the potential loss of our captain in free agency, we put leadership and defensive responsibility at a premium. O’Rourke, whom the Soo Greyhounds named captain in November, brings both. Already 6-foot-2 and likely to grow, O’Rourke has the size that makes NHL GMs drool, and as a strong skater with a deadly slapshot, he brings potency on both ends of the ice. There were higher-upside, higher-risk picks available here, but the Blues have always prized character and Hockey-IQ at the draft, and our selection of O’Rourke is no different. We look forward to confusing Ryan O’Rourke and Ryan O’Reilly for years to come.

Ryan O'Rourke Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Ryan O’Rourke of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Bell’s Take

There are quite a few people out there that think O’Rourke will be a first-rounder. Personally, I think he’s a mid-second selection and there are some other defenders that could be better options. That being said, O’Rourke is a player that I think should translate well to the NHL. His hockey IQ, his defensive game, and his leadership will be valued high by NHL teams. He can contribute offensively as well, but I’m not sure how much of that we’ll see when he makes the jump. Still, with Scott Perunovich likely about to make the jump, imagining these two defenders on the blue line should be enough to have Blues’ fans looking towards the next Cup.

27) Anaheim Ducks (via BOS): Jérémie Poirier, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

Scouting Report: Jeremie Poirier – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Stephen Dohner

The two-players I had my on here were Hendrix Lapierre and Braden Schneider. However, they were both off the board by the time I was able to make my second pick at 27. So, I decided to take a big swing. The best part about having extra picks, especially extra first-round picks, is that they don’t have the same expectations attached to them. They’re just a bonus. And, given that Anaheim’s terrible, no good, very bad year means they have the 36th overall pick in the second round as well, picking for the ceiling instead of the floor should be the goal.

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

So, I chose the Saint John Sea Dogs’ uber-talented defenseman, Jérémie Poirier. Although Poirier is a left-handed shot, he has an abundance of skill, skating, creativity, and guts that both the Anaheim roster and prospect pool are lacking. How good he can be is largely dependent upon how reliable he can be. He has a penchant for getting caught up ice and turning the puck over. But, if he can develop into even a passable NHL level defender, his offensive potential is so overwhelming it would be hard to pass on him. Poirier could potentially walk into Anaheim’s prospect pool as the second or third most talented player right away.

Bell’s Take

After selecting Holtz early in the draft, the Ducks turn to the back end, and take one of the more controversial prospects at the top of the class. Poirier has shown offensive flair on the back end, but there are some serious flags on his play in his own end. That being said, his game is more of an offensive defenseman. If you pair him with a solid defensive d-man, they could create a good pair. However, he will need to improve his defensive game if he will make the move to the NHL. This could turn out to be a very good or a very bad selection in the long run.

28) Ottawa Senators (via NYI): Helge Grans, D, Malmö Redhawks (SHL)

Scouting ReportHelge Grans – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

After locking up a dynamic center and two-way winger with their first two picks, the Senators can turn to address their defence issues. Not as glaring as the previously mentioned positions, it’s still on the weaker side and has prompted many to suggest that they should take one of the top two defensemen available in either Drysdale or Sanderson. However, the defence crop is not as game-breaking as the forwards, and beyond Sanderson and Drysdale, the field is much more even.

Helge Grans Malmö Redhawks
Helge Grans of the Malmö Redhawks (Malmö Redhawks)

Grans is easily one of the most intriguing defensive prospects in 2020 – 6-foot-3, right-handed, and a strong offensive style. His defensive abilities are on the weaker side, as his strength, but 12 years ago, the Senators took a chance on a lanky Swedish defender with the same description and ended up with Erik Karlsson. While Grans doesn’t look to be on that level, he’s definitely worth a risk for a team that has excelled in developing Swedish talent.

Bell’s Take

This could be one of the more underrated selections of the round. There are numerous draft analysts out there that think Grans could very well be the third-best defender of this class. I may not be one of them, but still like this pick for the Senators. After pumping their forward prospects with talent with Stutzle and Raymond, they stick with European prospects and land one of the better defenders. Grans could fit into the idea of positionless hockey extremely well, and fit right in with Thomas Chabot and Erik Brannstrom.

29) Vegas Golden Knights: Jan Myšák, LW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

Scouting Report: Jan Myšák – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Devin Little

I didn’t expect to draft Jan Myšák at 29th overall – mainly because I didn’t think he would be available that late in the first round. So, although I had my eyes set on a certain defenseman with the pick, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a forward prospect that I think has a ton of potential.
Myšák is a forward that is already proficient at reading the play in the offensive end. He has a great shot, but he also spent time as the quarterback of the Hamilton Bulldogs’ power play during the 2019-20 season. He isn’t a black hole in his own end, either.

Jan Mysak HC VERVA Litinov
Jan Mysak of HC VERVA Litinov (HC VERVA Litinov)

Where he could improve is his skating, though that can always get better as he climbs up the ranks. But perhaps the biggest reason I chose Myšák is his overall projectability at the NHL level. I think he’s a relatively safe bet to play in the NHL one day – whether it’s as a third-line center or a first-line winger. If the Golden Knights are able to pair a young Myšák with a puck-hog like Mark Stone, look out. It may take a couple of years, but if Myšák reaches his potential in Vegas, this pick could turn out to be a steal (in my humble opinion.)

Bell’s Take

FINALLY. Likely my favourite prospect in this class, I had Myšák ranked at 12th all season. Landing him down here a 29th might be closer to where he goes, but in my mind, that’s an absolute steal. The Golden Knights broke into the league and became a contender right away, and with how they’ve been lucking out in the draft, that window doesn’t look to be closing any time soon. Cody Glass, Peyton Krebs and Myšák? Yes, please. You could throw Jack Dugan, Lucas Elvenes, and Pavel Dorofeyev in there as well. Watch out for the Golden Knights.

30) Dallas Stars: Vasili Ponomaryov

Scouting ReportBrendan Brisson – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Eugene Helfrick

Vasili Ponomaryov is an interesting prospect, but one that the Dallas Stars would love to add to their system. He is a bit undersized at 5-foot-10 but possesses a strong two-way game with a dangerous shot and great hands. Throughout 2019-20, he posted 18 goals and 49 points in 57 games while playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. While Ponomaryov’s offensive production may not be jaw-dropping, he is that perfect all-around player that will easily slot into the Stars’ line-up in a few years. He could be that third-line winger who provides valuable depth scoring while taking on time both on the power play and the penalty kill.

Vasily Ponomaryov Shawinigan Cataractes
Vasily Ponomaryov of the Shawinigan Cataractes (Photo: Olivier Croteau)

Bell’s Take

Ponomaryov has been a favourite of mine for the end of the first round and could fit very well into the Stars. While Dallas doesn’t have an overly exciting prospect pool, there are a couple of exciting pieces that Ponomaryov could bolster. He may just be one of those extremely dependable, middle-six wingers that every team needs in a deep playoff run. I think he’s a player that is very adaptable and could move up or down the lineup. I like this pick.

31) San Jose Sharks (via TBL): Brendan Brisson, C, Chicago Steel (USHL)

Scouting ReportBrendan Brisson – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Victor Nuno

For the record, I think the San Jose Sharks will look to trade this pick for either a top-six center or right wing, but since trading is off the table, they would be ecstatic to select a center from the Chicago Steel of the USHL, Brendan Brisson. While he may not be the fastest skater, he has a great shot and exudes hockey sense. Even in the most difficult situations, he is able to problem solve by finding the open man or create space for a shot. When that shot does come, it is at a tremendous pace and accurate. At times he seems to be several steps ahead of the competition, knowing what they will do before they do it and taking advantage to create offense. The reason he might still be available is the lack of scouting in the USHL, according to J.D. Burke and Craig Button of the Elite Prospects podcast, it is the most under-scouted league in the world right now (confirmed by J.D. Burke on Twitter 09/19/20). Sitting 15th on my personal board, I believe the Sharks would find Brisson to be a steal at this spot.

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

Bell’s Take

Brisson is a very intriguing prospect, and one that you can find in the top-15 consideration or mid-second round. However, his talent screams top-20, so landing him at the bottom of the first round could be an absolute steal. As Victor mentioned, the USHL is surprisingly under-scouted considering all of the talent to come out of the league. Looking at what the Steel have done in particular, and the roster that they have moving forward, I think you can expect that to change. Brisson makes complete sense for the Sharks, a prospect pool lacking star talent in a big way. Brisson fills that void in a big way. An excellent way to end the first round.

This draft has been one of the most anticipated of all time, thanks to a four-month delay. The writers at THW had a blast doing three mock drafts this year and in this final one before the big day, we want to hear your thoughts! Love a selection? Wish your team picked someone different? Think someone should have been taken who wasn’t? Drop a comment!

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