Prospect Ramblings: Easter Monday Mock Draft
Happy Easter to those who celebrate and Happy Monday to those who do not! Who doesn’t love a mock draft? The order was determined through Tankathon.com and the big winners on the day were Ottawa and Minnesota! With Ottawa snagging the top-2 picks and Minnesota grabbing the third, where many expect the draft to really start, this should be a fun exercise!
Remember, these ARE NOT a ranking and although I will take my personal rankings and evaluations into consideration, along with many others such as Dobber Prospects managing editor Cam Robinson and TSN Draft Analyst Craig Button, these will be based on how I think each team is thinking heading into the draft. There are bound to be some surprises and picks that even I don’t agree with but this should be a fun exercise predicting the top-15 picks and how it could go down on draft day, whenever that is.
1st Overall – Ottawa Senators (via San Jose): LW Alexis Lafrenière – Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
6’1″ 192lbs October 11, 2001 Canadian
The beauty of how this draft lottery played out is that the Ottawa Senators get to take the highest upside player who represents a franchise-level player who will be able to change the future of a franchise thanks to his freakish athletic ability and raw offensive skills. They also get to take Alexis Lafrenière first overall and get the best player as of right this moment.
Lafrenière represents a rare play-driving winger who can dominate a game on virtually every shift. The base of his game is a strong base and intelligent cycle game. He has the ability to wear opponents and create havoc in the offensive zone, draining the defense’s energy and inflict pain on the scoreboard. He has the raw skills and hands to dazzle on any given basis and his production just simply doesn’t lie. The Senators take their top-line left winger for the foreseeable future and begin to build a scary forward core.
2nd Overall – Ottawa Senators: C Quinton Byfield – Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
6’4″ 214lbs August 22, 2002 Canadian
As it was hinted at above, Quinton Byfield is the prospect that many, including myself, deem to have the absolute highest ceiling in the draft class. While some in the scouting community feel that Lafrenière is the sure-fire top pick, there is some hesitation among others because of the seemingly infinite ceiling that Byfield possesses. The great thing for the Senators in this situation is that they don’t have to decide between the untapped raw talent that already plays at a high level or the high-level stud who is a bit more refined.
If scouts were putting a prospect together in a lab, Byfield would be the result. He has the size, speed, and strength that scouts drool over. He has impressive hands and an incredible shot. He is the kind of player that makes the game look easy at times. He has dominated his competition at times and has done so as one of the youngest players in the draft class. Almost 11 months younger than Lafrenière, it will be interesting to see where the two stars are five years from now when their development starts to level out and they are both in their primes.
3rd Overall – Minnesota Wild: RW Lucas Raymond – Frölunda HC (SHL)
5’10” 165lbs March 28, 2002 Swedish
The player who seemed to lose his grasp on the top-three finds it on draft day. Lucas Raymond was in a tough spot this year playing on a good SHL team and struggling to find minutes with a coach who didn’t seem all that eager to play the young players. He produced when given the chance but the chances were far too infrequent to build on his draft stick coming into the season. Minnesota takes the player who not only presents some flashy offensive potential but plays the responsible game that the Wild have played virtually since their inception at the turn of the century.
The “Next Great Swede” is a very complete player who makes a difference in all three zones. He is a reliable player in the defensive zone, using his high-IQ and skating to break up plays and turn them up the ice. He isn’t a burner but he is a very good skater who moves fluidly and intelligently all over the ice. His bread and butter is his playmaking as he is able to read his opponents like a book at times and set his teammates up for dangerous opportunities. He has a good shot as well but used it far too infrequently for my liking this year in the SHL.
4th Overall – Detroit Red Wings: C Tim Stützle – Adler Mannheim (DEL)
6’0″ 187lbs January 15, 2002 German
From mysterious and intriguing talent in September to top-five pick on draft day, Tim Stützle joins the Red Wings who drafted his friend and German national teammate Moritz Seider last year. Stützle planned on playing in the NCAA prior to Seider helping convince him to play in with Alder Mannheim this season. The decision has seemed to pay off as the young German has been able to show off his ability and skill at the men’s level. He is a center longterm and should bring borderline-franchise level talent to the Motor City.
His predatory brand of hockey is built on attacking the center of the ice and creating offensive chances for himself and teammates. He will bring a creative brashness to Detroit’s roster in a way they haven’t seen since Pavel Datsyuk left town. Stützle is a smart and capable player in his own zone as well which will help convince coaches he’s ready for more. With the ability to start next season in the AHL, the young offensive catalyst will push for NHL time if North America is in the cards next season.
5th Overall – Los Angeles Kings: RHD Jamie Drysdale – Erie Otters (OHL)
5’11” 180lbs April 8, 2002 Canadian
With an embarrassment of riches in terms of offensive prospects, the Kings take their next number-one defenseman in Jamie Drysdale. The Kings have one of the deepest and best prospects pools in hockey but they don’t have the future number-one defender that Jamie Drysdale has the chance to become. This also prevents the top defenseman from falling outside the top-five for the first time since 2003.
Drysdale is one of the best skaters in the draft and his offensive instincts are elite. He understands how to control play in the offensive zone from the point and the skill to make a play whenever needed. His mobility allows him to freelance and create with the puck on his stick while maintaining the ability to get back defensively. His defensive game is predicated on his mobility and good stick work to turn the puck over. He has been bullied at times by higher-end physical players but there is room for growth in his frame and he should build strength in the coming years.
6th Overall – Anaheim Ducks: C Marco Rossi – Ottawa 67s (OHL)
5’9″ 179lbs September 23, 2001 Austrian
Marco Rossi is one of the most complete players in the 2020 NHL draft class. The Anaheim Ducks grab one of the oldest prospects in the draft but he has also been among the most productive. He led the entire CHL with 120 points in just 56 games, a mark that even surpasses Lafrenière’s totals. Anaheim is going through a changing of the guard and Rossi can be one of the catalysts for that along with 2019 first-round pick Trevor Zegras.
If Zegras can stick at center long-term, a one-two punch of Rossi-Zegras (or visa-versa) could be a game-changer for a team that has been slowly building a solid forward group in their prospect pool. Rossi’s 200-foot game is second to only Anton Lundell in this draft class and his offensive toolset is a bit more diverse and skilled than Lundell’s. Rossi has a solid base and doesn’t allow his size to be a hindrance thanks to his “Crosby Thighs” as described by one NHL scout. Rossi has a shot at making an NHL roster next season.
7th Overall – New Jersey Devils: LHD Jake Sanderson – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
6’1″ 185lbs July 8, 2002 American
The New Jersey Devils are in the business of adding talent and Jake Sanderson certainly has talent. He is young for the draft class and his rise from a prospect on the cusp of the first round to a player some consider a possible top-ten pick. He is a two-way blueliner who has done an excellent job defensively with intelligent gap control and the ability to read and react to the situation. He closes out at the blueline and prevents zone entries quite well. He is an excellent skater who shows room for growth.
While this pick may seem like a reach to many, myself included, the reality of the draft is that defenders often go higher than expected. In a draft that doesn’t have a clear cut second-best defender, the hot commodity that has been Jake Sanderson in the second half of the season could be the name to go. Sanderson shows some offensive upside but there are questions as to how much of a ceiling there is for Sanderson.
8th Overall – Buffalo Sabres: C Anton Lundell – HIFK (Liiga)
6’1″ 183lbs October 3rd, 2001 Finnish
The Buffalo Sabres take a center for the second year in a row in the top-10 and they can smile ear-to-ear with the way it fits. With Jack Eichel as the undisputed number one center for the foreseeable future, Anton Lundell and Dylan Cozens (7th overall in 2019) can fill in behind him and form a championship level trio down the middle. If Cozens can continue on his path and become the high-end second-line center that he looks to become, that allows Lundell to become the match-up shutdown center that he can certainly become. His defensive game and ability to play a complete defensive game frees up Eichel and Cozens to run wild on offense.
Lundell has the best defensive game of any forward in this draft. His offensive game is sturdy, simple and effective. He plays a pro-style game already and has an outside shot of stepping into the NHL next season. Behind Eichel and with Cozens developing alongside him Lundell will be under no pressure to be something he isn’t and that could lead him to fulfill his full potential as a possible 25+ goal, Selke Trophy candidate.
9th Overall – Montreal Canadiens: C/LW Cole Perfetti – Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
5’10” 185lbs January 1, 2002 Canadian
The Montreal Canadians get to select the Canadian hero from the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup but get so much more than what was displayed in that tournament. The player we all came to know Cole Perfetti as ‘Goal Perfetti’ showed how complete his offensive game was this season. Starting the season with sub-7% shooting percentages through the first month and a half of the season, he became ‘Playmaker Perfetti’ as he challenged the OHL scoring lead all season and the majority of it was on the strength of his playmaking ability. This all while scoring 37 goals despite a very slow start. Montreal gets another high-end offensive player who will be a part of their rebuild.
Perfetti’s blend of goalscoring and playmaking could make him a perfect match for playing with Montreal’s 2019 first-round pick Cole Caufield. The pair could terrorize opposing teams, especially on the powerplay. Perfetti can play center but he likely profiles as a winger at the next level. His skating is average but he understands where to be on the ice and he gets there. He is a bit lackadaisical in his end at times but a young player has plenty of time to improve in that area of the game. Montreal gets a high-level talent towards the back end of the top-ten.
10th Overall – Chicago Blackhawks: G Yaroslav Askarov – SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
6’3″ 172lbs June 16, 2002 Russian
The Blackhawks get one of the best goaltending prospects in years. Yaroslav Askarov can solidify the Blackhawks crease for a decade and he could be NHL-ready within two years in the eyes of some scouts and analysts. He has shown up on the big stage at every age up to this point. The one ding on his international record was this past year at the World Junior Championships where was only 17 years old in a tournament that is generally dominated by 19-year-old’s, especially in net.
Askarov is mature beyond his years in his crease. He always seems to have full-body control and his movement stays crisp and deliberate. He tracks the puck like at a pro-level and has the ability to make difficult saves look easy. The young Russian goaltending phenom stays calm and cool in his crease and has a high-level of structure to his play. The difference-maker for Askarov is that he has the incredible athletic ability that allows him to come out of that structure to make dazzling and remarkable saves.
11th Overall – New Jersey (via Arizona): RW Alexander Holtz – Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
6’0″ 183lbs January 23, 2002 Swedish
The Devils are lucky to get one of the best goal scorers in the draft with their second first-round pick after getting Jake Sanderson with their first. While their draft positions should likely be flipped, the Devils are ecstatic to come away with this duo. Alexander Holtz has a big shot and the Devils have the opportunity to pair him with Jack Hughes in the top-six and have a dynamic playmaker-goalscorer duo for years to come.
Holtz’s fall down the draft boards since the beginning of the season has more to do with what others have down around him than him having a disappointing season. The young Swede is an impressive goalscorer but he is more than just a triggerman. He has the ability to create his own goals but his playmaking is fairly underrated. Coming away with Holtz at 11th overall could wind up being the steal of the draft in a few years.
12th Overall – Winnipeg Jets: C/W Dylan Holloway – The University of Wisconsin (NCAA)
6’0″ 192lbs September 23, 2001 Canadian
The Jets have been searching for a second-line center for a few years now and Dylan Holloway may be able to fill that role in a few years. Holloway does a great job along the boards and has no issue playing the cycle game. His decision-making is high-level and he doesn’t put his team at a disadvantage often which will gel with the Jets playing style.
Holloway has been just outside of the top-ten for the vast majority of the season and his draft day result is exactly that. He gets drafted into a situation where he can fit the system and has no pressure to supplant the number one center as Mark Scheifele has that job secured. Holloway’s mature style of play and penchant for making the right play should allow him to jump into a lineup after his sophomore or junior season at Wisconsin.
13th Overall – New York Rangers: RW/LW Noel Gunler – Luleå HF (SHL)
6’2″ 174lbs October 7th, 2001 Swedish
The New York Rangers make a selection that no one expects in Noel Gunler. With the rumored maturity issues and having just recently dealt with Lias Andersson going through some growing pains last season, few would expect the Rangers to select the young Swede. The Rangers add a player who has a boatload of talent. His offensive game is lethal at times as he moves pucks constantly and gets them to dangerous areas of the ice. The Rangers take another positive step in their effort to acquire talent and speed up their rebuild.
Gunler isn’t the most consistent player but he is among the most dangerous in the draft when he is on. His ability to work off the boards is well advanced for a player his age. Gunler has a lethal shot and the ability to find soft spots like few others in this draft class. He understands where to be and gets there. The biggest issue with Gunler is the inconsistency because the talent level is very high.
14th Overall – Florida Panthers: C Connor Zary – Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
6’0″ 181lbs September 25, 2001 Canadian
Connor Zary going to the Panthers fits like a glove. Zary has the chance to develop behind Alexander Barkov and learn from one of the best in the league. He plays a game that some would describe as simple but the reality is that he plays a high-level fundamental game. He has good speed and a high IQ. Florida gets one of the safest picks in the draft.
Zary has produced at a high-rate in the WHL for the last two seasons and led the WHL in scoring for a sizable chunk of time at the start of the season before finishing fifth in both total points and points-per-game. His ability to just go to work each shift and come out on top the majority of the time is impressive. He is a player who is above-average at everything but doesn’t possess an elite skill. Zary will be a coach’s dream and a player he can use in all situations.
15th Overall – Columbus Blue Jackets: RW Seth Jarvis – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
5’10” 172lbs February 1, 2002 Canadian
One of the fastest risers in the second half of the year, Seth Jarvis lands with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The speedy forward who tore the WHL up to a tune of 75 points in his final 37 games. The insane second half was a massive step up from a very respectable 23 points in his first 21 games. The Blue Jackets look to add a high-skill prospect to a prospect pool that has taken a bit of a beating with very little new blood recently.
Jarvis’ hot finish and solid, yet unspectacular start leave a bit of a question but the worst-case scenario seems to be a player that is somewhere in between which wouldn’t be that bad. The upside and bet that the second-half is more than a hot streak is something that the Blue Jackets are willing to take the bet on. The Jarvis that tore the league up in the second half was the same Jarvis from the first half in a stylistic sense, the pucks just started going in for him.
Well, that does it for the Easter Monday Lottery Mock Draft. As fun as these are, they are rarely right because there are always teams who reach and unexpected prospects who fall on the day of the draft. There are a thousand ways this could all go and none of us will know until the teams are on the clock. Until then, we can have our fun with mock drafts. If you like these or have other ideas, reach out and let me know!
I can always be reached on Twitter @TheTonyFerrari! Be sure to check out the March Draft Report where I dive into what scouts and draft analysts do now, the All-Overager Team and a profile on defenseman Eamon Powell. Also, check out the full Dobber Prospects 2020 NHL DRAFT PAGE! There are over 60 player profiles and a ton more draft content including the January Mid-Season Draft Report with a full breakdown of my Top-100 Rankings with video and analysis on 60+ players including nearly every player in the top-40!
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