Every year, draft aficionados convince the public that there is a general consensus for where each player will go on day one. Yet every year we have a selection that elicits gasps from the crowd, media and even a few scouting tables. If someone would have told you ahead of the 2018 draft that Barrett Hayton was going fifth overall ahead of Filip Zadina and Quinn Hughes, I think you would have laughed. I sure would have. But that’s exactly what happened. Last year, we saw Mo Seider come out of seemingly nowhere to be the second defender off of the board. 2017 it was Lias Andersson in the top-10. Don’t even get me started with the middle of round one in 2015.
This stuff happens every single year.
Thanks to COVID, we’ve had extra time to assess, but so have teams. And sometimes, that leads to some galaxy brain-level decisions to be made. Much to the chagrin of some fans and the delight to others. And so, I’m here to provide you with five bold predictions for the 2020 draft. I won’t be laying any cash on these happening, but they’re within the realms of possibility. And they’re fun to write!
You all did a masterful job of spicing things up here as well:
#1 – Detroit Selects Yaroslav Askarov 4th Overall
The Red Wings suffered through a legendarily poor 2019-20 campaign. And as their reward, they see their draft slot slide three spots into the fourth overall position. They’ve been linked to centre, Cole Perfetti. They’ve been linked to defenseman, Jamie Drysdale. But there isn’t a single person who has linked them to the goaltender, Askarov.
That’s right, folks. This spicy take is coming all the way from early December 2019. It certainly drew the ire from many Detroit fans and it likely would if it comes to fruition. However, this is a club that has Steve Yzerman at the helm. There is no single GM with more rope than Stevie Y has.
The club nabs the best goaltending prospect that I have ever scouted and they take him as the highest selected netminder since Marc-Andre Fleury went first overall in 2003. *
*This prediction may be superseded by another bold prediction.*
#2 – Ottawa Gets Wild at Fifth Overall
As my esteemed leader at EliteProspects, JD Burke once said, “The Sens are heading towards a monkey paw scenario.” This was in reference to the Sens having an opportunity to transform their organization with two top-five picks, only to see them waltz out of town instead of signing longterm second deals. Well in this scenario, the team decides to outthink themselves and takes winger, Jack Quinn with the fifth overall selection.
They do so while leaving Lucas Raymond, Marco Rossi, all the quality defenders and the top goaltender on the board. It’s widely considered a bad move at the time and hindsight invariably solidifies that over the next decade. Quinn is a good player, but the Sens way overthought this one.
You’d think the world would take notice and correct market inefficiencies like overlooking undersized players. I mean, Brayden Point literally just dominated the world this summer. But those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And that is why the top draft-eligible producer from the Dub is left sitting in front of his computer with 31 hats off to the side for an extra day.
The creative and versatile forward falls out of round one and into the laps of a very fortunate team on Day Two. Years later, we ask, “How did Seth Jarvis fall!?”
#4 – Nine Defensemen Are Taken In Round 1
In a class pegged as weak on the blueline, the teams in the back half of round one cannot help themselves. Finding quality defenders – especially righthanded ones is nearly impossible outside of the entry draft. And so we see the backs grabbed early and often in 2020.
Nine may sound like a lot, but it still doesn’t match 2019’s 10 defenders or the monstrous 14 selected in 2018. Just be prepared for next year. We could realistically see more defenders than forwards taken in the top 10 for ’21.
#5 – Not One But Two Superstars Will Be Traded(!)
Ooooh, boy! Wouldn’t this be fun? We’ve been hearing forever that the flat cap will force teams to make difficult decisions and mean more deals will be made. In this spicy prediction, we see the top two trade assets dealt: Patrik Laine and Jack Eichel.
Detroit get’s in on the party once again as Stevie Y and the Winged Wheel fellas grab themselves an elite, number one centre. All it cost them was Filip Hronek, Anthony Mantha, the 4th overall selection and a cap dump.
As for Laine, well, he’s sticking in Canada but heading further East. The Habs back up the Brinks truck and procure the oft-enigmatic, all-world finisher. Winnipeg welcomes back Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Mattias Norlinder and some spare parts.