Prospect Ramblings: Comparing 2020 NHL Draft Rankings Published 15 Months Apart

Jokke Nevalainen




I was recently reminded that I published my first 2020 NHL Draft ranking all the way back in November of 2018 – a whopping 16 months ago! I’ve never published a ranking so early, so I figured it would be fun to see how it’s holding up. To do that, I took my most recent published ranking which was a top 105 ranking I published on Twitter in February, and compared the two.


Here are links to both rankings if you’re curious:


My original ranking had 15 names, so I included all of them, and also added a few notable omissions who have worked their way to my top 10 during that time. Here’s the table showing the results. Analysis of the comparison can be found after the table.


 February 2020  November 2018  Player  Position
 1  1  Alexis Lafrenière  W
 2  2  Quinton Byfield  C
 3  3  Lucas Raymond  W
 4  NR  Tim Stützle  C/W
 5  7  Jamie Drysdale  RHD
 6  6  Alexander Holtz  W
 7  4  Anton Lundell  C
 8  14  Marco Rossi  C
 9  NR  Cole Perfetti  C/W
 10  NR  Yaroslav Askarov  G
 11  5  Noel Gunler  W
 15  10  Jan Mysak  C/W
 25  11  Justin Barron  RHD
 34  8  Kasper Simontaival  W
 38  12  Jean-Luc Foudy  C/W
 39  9  Daniil Gushchin  W
 52  15  Jake Neighbours  W
 64  13  Connor McClennon  C/W


As you can see, my top three has remained unchanged for 15 months. Alexis Lafrenière, Quinton Byfield and Lucas Raymond are high-end talents who have been on everyone’s radar for a very long time. For the most part, they have lived up to their lofty expectations and managed to keep their spots at the top. Some people have doubted Byfield and Raymond at some points during this time but I’m very much a believer. So far so good.


But here comes my first big miss. Tim Stützle was completely off my radar in November of 2018, and now he’s my number four and pushing for number three. It is so rare to have such a high-end prospect coming out of Germany that I just wasn’t ready for it – but nine months later, in our preliminary ranking in August 2019, Stützle had found his way to the top 15, and he’s continued to rise up from there.


The next group of three has pretty much stayed the same. Alexander Holtz is actually in the same exact spot at number six but Jamie Drysdale and Anton Lundell have swapped spots around him. These three are in the same tier, and I’m still not sure about the exact order I’ll have for them. These are also prospects who have been on everyone’s radar for a long time, and they’ve mostly managed to live up to their expectations.


At eight I have Marco Rossi who has moved up a couple of tiers and is now in the same tier with Drysdale, Holtz and Lundell. He was at 14 back in 2018 but has earned every bit of that promotion since then. Obviously I should have had him higher already in 2018 but because of his age, I feared his development might stall. But instead, he’s taken a much bigger step than I could have ever imagined.


At nine and ten, I have Cole Perfetti and Yaroslav Askarov who were not on my top 15 back in 2018. I was aware of both prospects at that time and had them in the first round but wasn’t quite ready to put them into the top 15 back then – obviously in hindsight I should have. I don’t remember what exactly caused the hesitation with Perfetti but with Askarov, it was just because he was a goalie and I didn’t think I could put a goalie to my top 15. He has definitely proven me wrong on that. After Stützle, these two were my biggest omissions.


Noel Gunler was my fifth ranked prospect back in 2018 but he’s at number 11 now. It’s not so much that he’s done anything wrong since then, it’s just that he hasn’t quite taken that next step that I expected to see from him, and a few others have shown more during that time and passed him. He is still part of that elite group of 11 prospects in this draft class because of his high upside.


Jan Mysak has moved down from 10 to 15, and Justin Barron has moved down from 11 to 25. These are two players I still like a lot (obviously since I have them in the first round) but their upside isn’t quite as good as I thought back in 2018, so I’ve moved them down a bit – and there’s also been some guys who have moved past them during that time. Both are pretty safe bets to become NHL players.


Kasper Simontaival and Daniil Guschin were inside my top 10 at numbers eight and nine back in 2018 but now they’re in the 30-40 range. I still think both players have high-end upside but they haven’t been able to take that next big step since then which has added a layer of uncertainty over them. They are both small offensive wingers, so they need to dominate offensively. There’s definitely a lot of boom or bust potential with these two.


Jean-Luc Foudy, Jake Neighbours and Connor McClennon round out the list. All three were excellent players at age 16 but their development hasn’t been as rapid as I expected, so they’re now in the second/third round range. All three have a lot of potential but it’s starting to look less likely that it will materialize into something special.


There you have it. I’m actually surprised to see my list has held up so well considering how long ago it was made, and obviously viewings were limited back then. Out of my current top ten, seven were already within my top 15 back in November of 2018. And everyone from my top 15 back in 2018 is still within my top 64.




And that’s all for now, thanks for reading. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.



Images used on the main collage courtesy of and 



Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Garin Bjorklund 5.5 5.5
Hunter Shepard 8.0 4.0
Mitchell Gibson 7.0 5.5
Clay Stevenson 8.0 7.0
Stepan Gorbunov 4.0 4.5
Matvei Shuravin 5.0 6.5
Justin Poirier 8.0 6.0
Noel Fransen 7.0 5.0
Alexander Daryin 5.0 2.0
Carson Bantle 4.0 3.5