Alright, let’s do this one last time. The absolute, 100 percent, completely final 2020 NHL Draft Rankings. I’ll keep this one a bit more brief. If you want video evidence, check out the articles we’ve been writing all year here at DobberProspects. Or take a look at the last ‘Final’ rankings I released in June.
As we know, amateur scouting departments were thrown a curveball the minute the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No CHL playoffs, Memorial Cup, or U18 World Championships. Massive opportunities for young players were swiftly wiped aside.
However, what once looked like there would be no chance for any recency bias with this crop, now may have the most unique set of recency bias ever. We are looking at players in Europe having a solid month of action under their belt before the draft occurs. The potential for list swings is palpable. That’s also the reason why I left the door open for one final ranking in the fall. Just in case. An offseason of training and a dozen games in pro circuits could change some perspectives.
That, and a few dozen more hours of watching old game tape.
As always, my assessments are limited. I am but one man who also has a five-year-old son, a one-year-old daughter, a teaching career, and many writing commitments. However, I’m fortunate enough to have a very patient wife and am privileged to have several experienced scouts to bounce things off of.
I’ve opened my list to the top-93 for this assessment. Why 93? Well, mostly because my buddy Daniel was cheesed I stopped at 80 last time when Vancouver doesn’t pick until 82. Plus, this makes it a three-round board and I’m cool with that.
This is not intended to mock up what the selections may end up being. This is how I perceive the player today in conjunction with how I believe they will progress and develop. It’s projection over current product. Translatable traits trump all. 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. I lean on established scouts, coaches, and agents to help fill in the gaps.
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. In my opinion, if you’re intelligent, you can overcome plenty of limitations. If you’re gifted physically, yet have limited awareness on the ice, you’re at more of a disadvantage. Add them together and you have the recipe for immense success.
You should really get this ↓
Regarding tiers, Tier 1 ends as a two-player cabin. Quinton Byfield remains at the top with Alexis Lafrenière less than a whisker behind. I have been very vocal in my belief that Lafrenière is the better player today. He’s the best player in this crop with a bullet. His development is advanced. However, it is my belief that Byfield has a higher pure upside. I’ve tried to stay committed to that gut feeling as in year’s past I may have fell victim to outside pressures. And believe me, I’ve felt those pressures on this decision, both from scouts, colleagues and the always-polite Twitter mob. But I remain resolved.
I could sit here and make the argument that Byfield’s U18 campaign was equal to or even greater than Lafrenière’s U18 season a year ago. And statistically, the big man produced at a greater rate in both goals and points. But I won’t. Because, as I said, the views don’t lie, Lafrenière is better by most metrics at this time. What I’m banking on is the development of Byfield to take him to a new, more unique level.
In a decade I’ll either be the smartest person in the room or have a major blemish on my record. We shall see.
The next class of talent falls into the 3-11 area. That group is tightly compacted. Lucas Raymond and Marco Rossi have vied for the third spot much of the season. In the end, Raymond takes the prize. His improved speed, strength and shot early on this season finally nudged him over the line.
Rossi will have to settle for fourth.
Alexander Holtz falls back an inch as the supreme goalscorer moves from fourth back to fifth where he spent most of the season on my list. The Swedish winger has that element you can only describe as it. He’ll make a team very happy.
Tim Stützle, with his electric speed and strong vision slipped a hair to seventh as Cole Perfetti earns a large swing – jumping up from ninth to sixth. Perfetti owns electric offensive skills to go along with the best brain of the bunch. His skating isn’t near the level of Stutzle’s – or many in the top eight, but I can’t get over how he uses every weapon at his disposal in the best way possible. I love me some smarts.
The battle of the top defenders ended up coming down to the wire. Jake Sanderson ended up taking it but I can’t express how close that was for me. In the end, Jamie Drysdale’s inability to consistently recognize the best option in front of him cost him his spot. He lands at number 10.
Anton Lundell rounds out the top level of this group. Afterwards, we’re looking at upsides and could-be’s. A lot of talent, but not a lot of assurances. It falls off a bit again around pick 20. Another level around 35, and then we’re looking at the long shot group that litters Day Two of the draft.
- Quinton Byfield, C / 08-19-02 / 6’4 215lbs / OHL
What you see is not necessarily what you’ll get with Byfield. His game right now is already dominant at the junior level, but it does own flaws. What you’re buying is his extremely rare potential. A 6’4 power centre who can skate and handle the puck like few in this class. Here’s hoping he adds a little nasty to his game in the future as well. If he can put it all together, there will be no stopping him.
[Read More: Film Room: An Extension Breakdown of Quinton Byfield’s Game]
- Alexis Lafrenière, LW / 10-11-01 / 6’1 193lbs / QMJHL
A premier, point-producing machine of a forward who continued to elevate his game throughout the season. Extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations. Scores in a variety of ways and will be one of the rare wingers who will dictate everything. Joined Sidney Crosby as the only two-time CHL Player of the Year winner. A very worthy first-overall pick.
- Lucas Raymond, LW/ 03-28-02/ 5’11 170lbs / SHL
An explosive winger who is equally dangerous with his shot or pass. Moves with quickness and handles the puck at a high-level even at top speed. His puck skills are fluid, controlled and capable of embarrassing. Finishes with accuracy off of a quick release. Capable of converting from all over while in-flight. Possesses that rare trait of escapability. Seeing ice with the big club now and lo-and-behold, he’s hitting the scoresheet. Kid’s good.
- Marco Rossi, C / 09-23-01 / 5’9 183lbs / OHL
The CHL leading scorer can beat you in any number of ways. His shot is quick and accurate. His hands have magic woven into them. Despite his size, he’s excessively strong in his core and legs. He may not live in the middle of the ice in the NHL, but he has elite two-way upside even from the wing. A highly driven player.
- Alexander Holtz, RW / 01-23-02 / 6’ 192lbs / SuperElit
An elite shooter who can finish from all around the offensive zone. Anticipates well and gets his body into a position to fire. Owns above-average speed and puck skills to go with the killer instinct. Owns a passion for finishing and demonstrated adaptability to finding the harder scoring regions. Future first PP triggerman with 40-goal upside.
[Read More: Robinson: Alexander Holtz is the 2020 NHL Draft’s Premier Finisher]
- Cole Perfetti, C / OHL / 01-01-02 / 5’10 185lbs / OHL
Check out the big brain on Cole. A highly productive pivot who can set it up almost as well as he can finish it himself. Has nice puck skills to go along with special processing skills. Lacks the two-step quickness to be considered a locked-in future star, but he’s not far off. He’s as good a bet as any for a smaller, skilled centre without blazing speed.
- Tim Stützle, LW / 01-15-02 / 6’1 187lbs / DEL
High-end speed propels this creative forward. Elite two-step quickness blends into an explosive, puck-possession style. Should develop into one of the premier transitional players in the NHL. Likely better served on the wing.
- Jake Sanderson, LHD / 07-08-02 / 6’2 185lbs / USNTDP
An elite transitional defender who owns advanced defensive instincts and tremendous skating ability. Has a heavy shot but uses it sparingly. He wasn’t afforded high-end forwards to work with at The Program this year, but that will change at NoDak in the fall. Will chew up the minutes in the NHL.
- Yaroslav Askarov, G / 06-16-02 / 6’3 176lbs / VHL
Hits all the markers – size, composure, puck-tracking, elasticity, and a competitive fire. Was very good in the VHL as a 17-year-old – something we never see. Now he’s torching the KHL early on this season. It’s difficult to imagine he doesn’t turn out.
- Jamie Drysdale, RHD / 04-08-02 / 5’11 175lbs / OHL
A fluid, puck-possessing rearguard who plays with terrific pace. Has his head up at all times, and can bomb outlets the length of a football field. Can be guilty of missing opportunities. The offensive upside is tremendous though.
- Anton Lundell, C / 10-03-01 / 6’1 185lbs / Liiga
A polished, two-way centre who already brings the full package. His patience with the puck allows him to distribute with more efficiency. Boasts a highly advanced brain to support his well-rounded style. The shot is powerful but needs to use it more. A super safe selection. I wish I could get him higher up the list.
- Rodion Amirov, LW / 10-02-01 / 6’ 177lbs / KHL
An impressive two-way winger. Competes for every puck and tends to win thanks to his balance and a strong core. Makes the subtle plays that add up. Still searching for that separation speed. Can fit all over the lineup. One of my favourites.
- Dawson Mercer, C/RW / 10-27-01 / 6’ 180lbs / QMJHL
Intelligent, play-creating forward. Makes the hard plays, but can also dazzle with his puck skills. And I do mean dazzle. Two-step quickness already showing improvements. Wears opponents down. Versatility is the name of the game. He’s going to be a fun pro.
- Seth Jarvis, RW / 02-01-02 / 5’10 175lbs / WHL
Speedy, creative winger who thrives off of the rush. Was downright dominant in the final 40 games of the WHL season. Converts at a high-level thanks to his IQ and willingness to get greasy. The question is whether he can get to those spots in the NHL at his size.
- Helge Grans, RHD / 05-10-02 / 6’2 206lbs / SuperElit
Smooth-skating, transitional defender. Enjoys activating off of the rush. Isn’t as advanced defensively but has the physical tools to get there. Can make questionable decisions with and without the puck but that eased as the season wore on. Can make complex passes look easy. Someone may jump early.
- Mavrik Bourque, C / 01-08-02 / 5’10 178lbs / QMJHL
The type of player who sees the game a step ahead of most and uses that advantage to get a jump. A dual-threat offensive catalyst who thrives on the man-advantage. More strength and speed would be nice. Played a ton of minutes this year so his pace was shallow. I see a captain’s C in his future.
- Jack Quinn, RW / 09-19-01 / 6’ 176lbs / OHL
A finisher by nature, Quinn joined rare air by breaking the 50-goal mark in his draft-eligible season. Works well on the inside and converts at a high rate because of it. Is one of the older players in this group and his defensive abilities match the added maturity. Should thrive next to an intelligent, playmaking pivot.
- Jacob Perreault, RW / 04-15-02 / 5’11 192lbs / OHL
This kid can absolutely let it fly. His shot is already NHL-plus rated, but he’s not afraid to finish in the difficult areas. The issue will be finding the time and space at the next level to get it away. A force on the man-advantage. There’s some boom here, but also a healthy dose of bust potential.