THW 2020 Mock NHL Draft: We Pick the Top-15

With Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery complete, the top-15 draft order is set for the Oct. 9-10 NHL Draft. And with that information, the writers at The Hockey Writers couldn’t wait for another opportunity to play general manager and participate in another mock draft.

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

For this edition, I didn’t give my personal take on the selections, as we’ll save that for the final, full first-round mock draft once the Stanley Cup has been awarded and the draft order is set. For this edition, the writer’s made their picks and then submitted their reasoning for that pick. Similar to the first edition though, there are no trades in this mock.

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 Report: Alexis Lafrenière – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Jeb Biggart

Lady luck and Lady Liberty are practically sisters at this point considering the Rangers’ impeccable Draft Lottery performances. Alexis Lafrenière should absolutely be the Rangers’ only option at first overall. Unfortunately, the Rangers will have a bit of a logjam at left wing with Artemi Panarin and the more recently locked up Chris Kreider taking the reigns for the next few years.

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

Lafrenière may not be quite the level of generational, but he’s certainly a franchise-changing player. There have been only two players in CHL history that have won player of the year twice – Sidney Crosby and Lafrenière. He’ll have no problem adjusting to the Broadway limelight as he leads a new era of Rangers hockey.

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

Scouting Report: Quinton Byfield – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Victor Nuño

The Los Angeles Kings have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. Part of how they got there was by taking the best player available and not drafting based on current or perceived positional need. While the defence is arguably one of their weaknesses, it would be totally out of character to take Jamie Drysdale or Jake Sanderson here. Quinton Byfield is a unicorn.

Related: Is Quinton Byfield Underrated?

He possesses tremendous skill, especially for his size. He is extremely young for this draft class. While there is no question Lafrenière is better than Byfield now, will he be in a few years? As a center, Byfield can influence the game in so many ways, especially if he imposes himself on the competition as Eric Lindros did. Or, perhaps he will not be as physical like Joe Thornton, but either way, the Kings are getting a special player that instantly becomes their best prospect.

While the Kings already have two great center prospects in Alex Turcotte and Gabriel Vilardi, they are still a work in progress. In addition, many of their centers and center prospects can play the wing, but drafting a winger like Tim Stützle doesn’t guarantee he can play center.

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

Scouting Report: Tim Stützle – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

With the Kings selecting Byfield, the Senators have an easy choice with the third-overall pick. The German center oozes skill – he’s one of the fastest skaters of his class, has elite-level hockey intelligence, and can set up plays just as easily as finish them. He’s been compared to Patrick Kane in that he plays an extremely exciting, up-tempo game. Stützle is likely the most complete center available, and to have him fall to third almost feels like a steal.

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

The one thing he currently lacks is strength, but that could change in as little time as a single offseason. So far, he’s demonstrated great work ethic and he could look like a different player come the 2020-21 season. If the Senators draft Stutzle, he’d instantly become the team’s top prospect and likely compete for a spot on the top-six right out the gate. His skill level would immediately transform the Senators offense, giving Brady Tkachuk an elite playmaker up the middle and ease the pressure off other center prospects like Josh Norris and Logan Brown. Even though the Senators likely would have preferred the first-overall pick, there is no way to lose with third this year.

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

Scouting Report: Marco Rossi – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Tony Wolak

Related: Red Wings: Draft Lottery Fallout

I’m sure a few of you were expecting Lucas Raymond here. It was close, but I ultimately took Marco Rossi over the Swedish playmaker. Rossi’s commitment to the game and overall competitiveness have been compared to that of Crosby. Dylan Larkin and Moritz Seider are rink rats too, which can be infectious, especially when a team’s top players are constantly going above and beyond. Rossi’s elite two-way game, vision, and scoring touch make him No. 1 center material.

5. Ottawa Senators: Alexander Holtz, RW, Djugårdens (SHL)

Scouting Report: Alexander Holtz – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

Currently, there are two glaring weaknesses on the Senators depth chart: pure snipers and right-wing depth. So, with the fifth-overall pick, the Sens could address both those issues by selecting Alexander Holtz. He is likely one of the best goal-scorers available in 2020 and though many have cited problems with his play away from the puck and his defensive awareness, his upside is difficult to ignore.

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

The fifth-overall pick will likely be ripe with possibilities and, like the third, it will be very difficult to make a bad pick. Many have theorized that the Senators will likely select a defenseman with their second pick, either Jamie Drysdale or Jake Sanderson, but they’ve taken a defenseman in the first round the past two seasons (Lassi Thomson and Jacob Bernard-Docker). While those previous selections are by no means the level of those available in 2020, their defense is currently in pretty good hands, and neither of the 2020 top defenders are franchise players comparable to Thomas Chabot. So why not go with Holtz, who joins Stützle in redefining the Senators’ offense? His potential is much higher and would help make the Senators incredibly difficult to play against in a couple of seasons.

6. Anaheim Ducks: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie Otters (OHL)

Scouting Report: Jamie Drysdale – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Eddy Jones

My primary target went to the Senators with the previous selection, so I’ll gladly settle for my second option in Jamie Drysdale. It was tough to leave Lucas Raymond once again on the board, but the Ducks’ go for the draft’s best defenseman. He gives Anaheim something they’ve been looking for at least the last decade, a dynamic offensive-minded right-shot defenseman. He’s completely different from the Ducks’ current crop of defenseman and is exactly the type of player they need.

Related: Drysdale Has the Potential to Surprise in Draft

His skating and agility are top-notch, but it’s his hockey IQ and intelligence that really take him to another level. He’s the prototypical modern-day defenseman, built in the mold of Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar. Like his peers, his size won’t be a problem at the NHL level and his transition to the big stage will be seamless thanks to his elite toolset. The thought of Drysdale playing on a future pairing with Hampus Lindholm should be enticing enough for Ducks’ fans. A top-four consisting of Lindholm, Drysdale, Cam Fowler and Josh Manson should get the Ducks’ back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.

7. New Jersey Devils: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frölunda HC (SHL)

Scouting Report: Lucas Raymond – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Alex Chauvancy

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

Well, it happened again. Lucas Raymond fell into the Devils’ lap, as he did in our May mock draft. My assessment of him hasn’t changed much since then. Raymond is a dynamic winger who’s a high-end playmaker and absolute pest on the forecheck. He doesn’t have a great shot, but he knows how to get into high-danger shooting areas, which will serve him well in the NHL. I’ve long believed he’s the third-best prospect in the 2020 Draft. I still stand by it, though Marco Rossi has a strong argument to be too. Either way, the Devils get a top three or five talent drafting Raymond with the seventh pick, so it wasn’t too hard a decision to select him.

8. Buffalo Sabres: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)

Scouting Report: Anton Lundell – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Jordan Deshane

The Buffalo Sabres make a pick in Anton Lundell that may feel like a reach for some. While not having explosive offensive stats, Lundell brings the Sabres an element they desperately need. He has arguably the most complete game in this draft class and is sound defensively. He will be an assistant captain for HIFK this upcoming season, something almost unheard of for an 18-year-old. He will add solidity up the middle of the ice and bring leadership to a squad that desperately needs more leaders. Although the pain of the Ryan O’Reilly trade will hurt for some time, adding a future Selke candidate in Lundell can go a long way to erasing those memories and helping to lift the Sabres to relevance once again.

9. Minnesota Wild: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Scouting Report: Connor Zary – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Jack Dawkins

The Minnesota Wild must find themselves a top-two center of the future. Unfortunately, in this mock draft, the best center options in the draft were all grabbed off the board before the ninth pick. Connor Zary is an interesting prospect. He averaged nearly 22 minutes per game playing for the Kamloops Blazers. In his draft year, Zary outproduced notable WHL prospects like Matt Barzal, Cody Glass and Nolan Patrick from their draft years.

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

He’s a center who can play all three zones well and has a very good shot. There aren’t really a lot of holes to his game and the one negative that continues to pop up is that he doesn’t really have a standout skill. But, he has NHL size, and he’s a versatile player with a good hockey IQ, incredible hockey sense and an infectious work ethic. The things he does well kind of make him a “safe” pick. You know he’s going to at least be your second line center down the road.

I’ve seen comparisons to Jordan Staal and Travis Zajac, and both were players who reached the 20-plus goal/50-plus point plateau during the primes of their careers while also eating up big minutes and holding down big roles. He’s the kind of player that a team needs to have at center if they want to have sustained, long-term success. With that in mind, and in spite of the naysayers, Zary is the pick for the Wild here with Rossi and Lundell off the board.

10. Winnipeg Jets: Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

Scouting Report: Cole Perfetti – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Josh Kim

The Winnipeg Jets should head into the 2020 NHL Draft looking for a forward. With the likes of Sami Niku, Ville Heinola, and Logan Stanley representing a defense-heavy prospect pool, Cole Perfetti would be a perfect fit in Manitoba. Similar to when the Red Wings took Filip Zadina when he fell to the sixth-overall pick, the Jets should definitely look to grab the best player available should Perfetti fall to them at #10. Finishing second in the OHL with 111 points in just 61 games with the Saginaw Spirit while also dominating at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Perfetti would be quite the compliment to the Jets top-six. Already showcasing his lethal goal-scoring ability and his knack for finishing around the net, the Whitby, Ontario native would create a dynamic one-two punch with Mark Scheifele.

11. Nashville Predators: Rodion Amirov, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)

Scouting Report: Rodion Amirov – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Josh Bell

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

The hope is always that your team drafts the best player available. In this spot, that’s Rodion Amriov. In my personal rankings, the Russian forward came in at number 10, making him the best option on the table at this spot. He’s a possession goldmine, excelling in the transition game, being solid defensively, and can contribute offensively. The two-way winger will need to put on some muscle, but he has all the tools to be a top-six forward in the NHL. The Predators prospect pool has some promising forwards in Philip Tomasino and Eeli Tolvanen, and Amirov could be the new top prospect in the system.

12. Florida Panthers: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Scouting Report: Jack Quinn – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Ryan Womeldorf

Goal scorers find a way. That’s what makes Jack Quinn so intriguing for the Florida Panthers here. Quinn exploded for 52 goals in the OHL last season and has natural abilities to light the lamp in the NHL. His size and skating don’t make scouts crazy, but then again, how many other smaller guys (hello, Cam Atkinson) really had a lot of hype? The Panthers need top-six scoring and Quinn could be an impact goal-scorer on the NHL level.

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

Scouting Report: Yaroslav Askarov – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Matthew Zator

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

The Carolina Hurricanes are good in goal right now with Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. But the future is not that bright beyond them. With Yaroslav Askarov, they get a potential star capable of becoming an elite puck stopper in the NHL. Not since Carey Price have we seen a goaltender of this talent, and he definitely has the skills to be a difference-maker for the Hurricanes down the road. The package of athleticism, reflexes and elite puck tracking abilities he possesses is something that just does not come around every day. So it was almost a no-brainer when he was available at number 13.

14. Edmonton Oilers: Jake Sanderson, D, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

Scouting Report: Jake Sanderson – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini

With the Edmonton Oilers loss in the Qualifying Round, it’s evident that their defense needs to be their main focus. Already with promising defensive prospects in their system like Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg, Sanderson will be a critical piece piece on their back-end. Sanderson’s stock rose as the season progressed and even challenged Jamie Drysdale as the top defenseman in the draft. The son of former NHLer, Geoff Sanderson, he is a well-rounded defenseman capable of making an impact at both ends of the ice. He’s an outstanding skater with great puck-moving abilities, but he also takes pride in providing a smart and steady defensive presence in his own zone. His two-way presence and pro mentality will no doubt be a great addition to any team. Especially the Oilers, where defense is becoming a glaring issue.  

15. Pittsburgh Penguins: Dylan Holloway, C/W, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

Scouting Report: Dylan Holloway – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

THW Writer: Chris Haddad

The reason I drafted Dylan Holloway for the Pittsburgh Penguins is that the organization is thin down the middle. The club doesn’t have an impact center prospect (or much of anything really) and their NHL roster has low upside guys occupying the third and fourth lines. Holloway projects as a solid two-way center because his speed and defensive game are already advanced. Expectations for his freshman year at Wisconsin this past season were high because he was playing with Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte, but the 2019-20 Badger squad was abysmal and hardly Holloway’s fault.

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

The fact that he only scored 17 points in 35 games and is still a mid-1st round prospect demonstrates that he could have been a top 10 pick with more production. His upside makes him a pretty good get at 15. Other players I considered were Mavrik Bourque, Dawson Mercer, and Hendrix Lapierre, but Holloway’s floor is higher than all of them. He’s more physical than Bourque, faster than Mercer, and doesn’t have the concussion history of Lapierre.

THW’s Top-15 Mock Has Some Surprises

The Hockey Writers’ top-15 mock draft definitely had some surprises, from Connor Zary going before Cole Perfetti to just two defenders going in the top-15, to Jake Sanderson falling to No. 14 – and the Oilers taking their third defender in the first round for the third year in a row.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

The 2020 NHL Draft is set for Oct. 9-10, after the Stanley Cup is awarded. Keep an eye out for the full, first-round mock draft from The Hockey Writers’ team, and in the meantime, what are your thoughts on the top-15 mock draft? Leave a comment below!