Here we are. Another summer in books and all over the globe, hockey is being played at high intensities. We’re just a stone throw away from NHL action. It’s just swell. It’s also officially the draft-eligible season for the 2020 class which is set to put on a show.
I usually begin to divert some of my attention to the next group around the start of a new calendar year. It’s a side perspective because so much time is spent on the current crop. However, this 2020 eligible class is so juicy it probably pulled a little more than usual.
This group is deep. Giant Squid, ice-cold, middle of the ocean deep. Mariana’s Trench deep.
I’ve spent the summer going back through draft-minus one footage, along with some summer tournaments like the Hlinka, Champions League, and Four Nations. This has landed me with a nice preliminary list of around 60 players of which you’ll see around half today. The list will grow as the year goes on of course. But I am just one man with a job, a wife, a four-year-old and now, a fresh baby girl!
This is not intended to mock up what the selections will eventually be this June. This is how I perceive the player today in conjunction with how I believe they will progress and develop. I’m limited to mostly assessing these players on their on-ice achievements. Knowing these young men as individuals would be telling towards their drive and determination. Something that cannot be understated.
Regarding my method, I place immense value on skating ability and processing speed. Physical attributes are great, but if you can’t see the play develop or recognize your options quickly, both offensively and defensively, you’ll be destined for an uphill battle. It’s hard not to love a creative player with a rocket of a shot or incredibly slick puck skills. But those attributes come behind speed and smarts.
Regarding tiers, the top of the pile is much roomier than usual. Alexis Lafrenière leads the pack, but he has some very real competition in Quinton Byfield and Lucas Raymond. At this stage of the game, there are probably five very real threats for the pole position. Tier 2 runs from 4-9, Tier 3 10-14, Tier 4 we’ll call 15-31 because its September and these later tiers are going to see significant change throughout the season
- Alexis Lafrenière, LW / 10-11-01 / 6’1 192lbs / QMJHL
A premier, point-producing machine off of the wing. Extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations. Scores in a variety of ways. Brings the noise. Can still improve on his two-step quickness and hitting the top gear sooner… but we’re nitpicking. Will be one of the rare wingers who will dictate everything.
- Quinton Byfield, C / 08-19-02 / 6’4 214lbs / OHL
A physical specimen who blends exceptional power with a speed-driven, skill game. His quick hands allow him to maneuver in tight spaces, while the long reach propels his puck-protection. A mammoth of a man at ju