As April rolls around, so does the draft lottery and a taste of draft season starts to appear. As most hockey fans have a good idea on the 2019 draft class, this is a good time to share my thoughts on the 2020 draft class, one in which we will be analyzing for another year to come before they are selected. These players still have another year to prove themselves, and their rankings will most likely change drastically, but this should give a good early look at the top talents in 2020. I have had at least one viewing of all 31 players I have ranked in the first round, and compared them weighing for the obvious skill set, potential, NHL readiness and weaknesses like always.
The draft is dominantly led by Alexis Lafreniere, a franchise winger who can turn the fortunes of an organization around come next June, but followed by plenty of room to change. Currently, the chasing pack is made up of a unique group of forwards led by two skilled centres, Finn Anton Lundell and Canadian Quinton Byfield. These two will jockey for the second and third positions for a while until someone can separate or a new player joins the fray. Czech forward Jan Mysak is someone who has not been extremely exposed at this point, but has recently dominated the Extraliga to a pace matching future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. Jamie Drysdale leads the defensive charge at number seven on my list. The two way defenseman has shown plenty of promise on a weak Erie Otters squad this year. The Swedish big three of Lucas Raymond, Alexander Holtz and Noel Gunler will also be interesting to watch throughout the coming year as they look to assert Swedish dominance in 2020. The first round looks extremely deep, deeper than we’ve seen in a long time
- LW/C Alexis Lafrenière– Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL
Has all the top end skill and tendencies you look for in a franchise player packed into one. His puck control and creativity is some of the best around coming out of a draft class since McDavid. Fantastic skater who uses his balance and edges to ward off defenders and stay strong on the puck. He’s played some center, but left wing still remains his best and most consistent position. Dominating scorer with a wicked release and incredibly smooth hands, hands down the best player in the class.
- C Anton Lundell– HIFK, Liiga
Hard working two-way center two has a lethal wrist shot. Nice hands and fantastic hockey sense, is always aware of what’s going on around him. Uses his body well and is a good faceoff taker, natural center. Produced at 0.5 PPG in the Liiga, near identical stats to Alex Barkov. Not the most elite offensive player, but defends very well for his age, gives maximum effort on both ends of the ice.
- C Quinton Byfield– Sudbury Wolves, OHL
Physically dominant two-way center who uses a deadly combination of size, speed and skill to score and set up goals. Not just a big body, Byfield has a very high skill level and often gets creative with the puck. Skates very well for a larger body and is very hard to knock off the puck with his large size. Lots of power in his wrist shot which he loves to use from various angles.
- C/LW Jan Mysak– HC Litvinov, Extraliga
The Mouse, Jan Mysak has took the Czech Extraliga by storm, scoring at a pace that hasn’t been seen since Jiri Hudler in the Czech league at such a young age. Through limited viewings, his best asset is his skating, specifically his fast acceleration, being able to burst past defenders and finish with ease. His first few steps are lightning quick and separate him from defenders well. He scores a lot of goals through breakaways or odd man rushes with his speed and finishing abil