Prospect Ramblings: What to do with Multiple First Round Draft Picks

Brayden Olafson

2020-08-28

 

Much of the recent discussion around the 2020 NHL draft has been related to the teams who hold multiple first round picks in the draft’s first round. In particular, the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators have received a particularly high amount of attention, most related to the rumor of a 3+5 for 1 trade.

With Pierre Dorion’s unequivocal denial of  that speculation, the current amount of team’s holding more than one selection in the first round stands at four – Anaheim, New Jersey, New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators.

Although there’s no tangible evidence to support it, a commonly discussed draft strategy for teams who are in possession of more than one draft pick in the first round is that one pick should be safe, while the other should be a swing for the fences. In the case of teams possessing more than two picks in the first round, such as this year’s New Jersey Devils who are currently looking to select at 7th, 18th and 20th, teams usually incorporate extra risk into at least one of their selections – see 2018 New York Rangers (Kravtsov); 2015 Boston Bruins (Zboril/Seynshyn); 2013 Columbus Blue Jackets (Dano)… Calgary in 2013 and Vegas in 2018 were minor exceptions.

With this theme in mind, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through each of the teams who own more than one first round pick in the upcoming draft, and make mock selections based on these rough theories.

 

Anaheim Ducks | 6 and 31

In Anaheim’s case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team take more perceived risk at the top-end of the draft than at the bottom. The Ducks are in a position where their elite core is approaching retirement, and the youth that they’ve already begun to infuse should shortly be capable of inheriting fulfilling roles in the NHL. Each of Trevor Zegras, Sam Steel and Max Jones seem to be on the brink of making an offensive impact in the NHL, indicating that the Ducks might be in a position to seek an elite prospect defenseman. While the logical selection to support their depth chart would be either one of Jamie Drysdale or Jake Sanderson in the six-spot, the will almost certainly be a second-tier defense prospect remaining when they are back to the table at 31. A conservative second-tier defenseman such as Lukas Cormier, Justin Barron or William Wallinder can be heard in the same discussion as any other defenseman who will be selected after the top-two, and there’s a very slim chance that the three of them, plus each of Braden Schneider, Kaiden Guhle, Helge Grans and Jeremie Poirier are off the board by the end of the first round.

On the other hand, the Ducks will not have the opportunity to select a second-tier forward that late in the draft. If the team has a similar line of thinking, I believe there is a decent chance that they unload their first pick on the 5-9 Marco Rossi, one of the smartest players in the draft, with an eagerness for winning puck battles that will rival some of the NHL’s top power forwards.

Possible Outcome: Marco Rossi, Lukas Cormier

 

New Jersey Devils | 7, 18 and 20

With arguably the third-best collection of picks in the draft, the New Jersey Devils draft board is bound to look a bit peculiar. With Tom Firzgerald stepping up to his first National Hockey League draft, we could see one of two things:

 

  1. A GM who wants to lay low and keep his job, OR;
  2.  Go full Don Sweeney and,