Prospect Ramblings: Easter Monday Mock Draft

Tony Ferrari

2020-04-13

Alexis Lafrenière (right) and Quinton Byfield are the projected top-two picks in the 2020 NHL Draft (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Hockey League)

 

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. 

 

Full Tankathon Results for the Easter Monday Mock Draft

 

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