2020 NHL Draft First Round: Yay or Nay!

Tony Ferrari

2020-10-07

Photo courtesy of hockeymagasinet.com

 

The first round of the 2020 NHL Draft started out as expected and then it got a bit wild! There were plenty of names falling, some wild names jumping up boards, and all the fun that always comes with the NHL Draft. Now we’re given a chance to breathe and look back and ask, “Did I like that pick?”

 

So, let’s take a look at some picks that made me say “YAY” and a few that made me say “NAY”!

 

Yay! Lucas Raymond!

Detroit Red Wings 4th Overall

 

Honestly, in my mind, this was an easy pick. He was third on my board, third on the DobberProspects Scouting Teams Top-100 and fits exactly what the Detroit Red Wings need! Raymond is a play driving winger who can control the pace of the game. His passing ability is high-level and his puck skills are legit. Not many wingers can truly be the play driver on his line but Raymond fits that mold.

 

He is a very good skater who excels on his edges and with his agility. He has a boatload of creativity as a playmaker and can make opposing defenders and netminders pay if they don’t respect his wrist shot. His dynamic offensive ability often leads to many analysts failing to mention his strong two-way game. He isn’t a defensive stalwart but he does show some potential to be a well above average defensive winger. With Wings fans worried about this pick for months, the selection of Lucas Raymond should calm those nerves as he takes his plave atop their already solid prospect pool.

 

Nay! Yegor Chinakov!

Columbus Blue Jackets 21st Overall

 

I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Literally no one. Even the Sportsnet broadcast seemed caught totally off-guard. He was a re-entry into the draft after being passed over last season. He finished 5th in scoring in the MHL (Russian junior hockey). His calling card is his shot and ability to really take over on a powerplay.

 

The questions come with basically every other part of his game. He is disinterested in playing defensively and his off-puck offensive game is okay but certainly nothing to ride home about. The fact that he was an overage kid who played in the MHL for his full D+1 season is a bit concerning as well. He has had a good start to the KHL season thus far with five goals, seven points in 12 games. There was enough there to assume that Chinakov was going to selected in the 2020 draft. A third-round pick would have been intriguing possibly but the 21st overall pick with so much talent still on the board was interesting. Do your thing Jarmo Kekäläinen, you wild man!

 

Yay! Marco Rossi!/Nay! Jack Quinn

Minnesota Wild 9th Overall/Buffalo Sabres 8th Overall

 

It was WILD to me that Marco Rossi – my fourth-ranked skater and the DobberProspects Scouting Teams number five – was falling down the board. Then the Buffalo Sabres came up to the Zoom podium and said: “We are proud to select, from the Ottawa 67’s… Jack Quinn”.

 

Now I’ve included these two players together for this one because I think it’s only fair I explain why Jack Quinn gets the dreaded and all-important, Tony Ferrari ‘Nay’, and it’s not what you would expect if you’ve followed my analysis of Jack Quinn at all. The reason that Jack Quinn gets a ‘Nay’ is just the simple fact that he went ahead of Marco Rossi.

 

I have come a long way in my opinion of Jack Quinn over the year. I have said it many times but I think Jack Quinn doesn’t get credit for a lot of the things he does away from the puck and maybe gets a bit too much credit as a goal scorer. I think he is quite good at anticipating the play and understand where he needs to be on the ice. I think his defensive instincts will at least make him a decent defensive player. I also think that the 52 goals that he scored this year may have been inflated by some luck, some good teammates and just the fact that he is one of the oldest players in the entire draft class. His shot is very good but not 52 goals good. He should settle in as a 25+ goal scorer but anyone expecting him to regularly challenge 40 every year like a player such as Alexander Holtz, will likely be mistaken.

 

As for Marco Rossi, I have been on the record as saying that I think he is among the smartest, if not the smartest, players in the draft class. His understanding of the offensive game as a whole is incredible. Like Quinn, he is older for the draft class but he showed the ability to be a complete play driver. He is also a center who should be able to translate to the NHL as such. Despite being a bit small at 5’9″, he plays a heavy game and doesn’t get pushed off pucks easily, winning board battles and beating players sometimes 6″ taller. Rossi is a highly effective, highly intelligent player who has the killer instinct that it takes to excel at the next level. The Wild get a stud.

 

Yay! Cole Perfetti!

Winnipeg Jets 10th Overall 

 

Prior to the draft, many thought that the Canadian Hlinka-Gretzky Cup star would be putting the winged wheel on his chest. Sportsnet’s’ Sam Cosentino seemed sure of it as soon as the draft lottery broke the way it did, with the 17-win Detroit club falling out of the top three. However, the Red Wings and Lucas Raymond got our first ‘Yay’ of the day which set up Perfetti’s fall before finding a runway to land with the Jets. The Saginaw Spirit star was a lethal playmaker this year and still had the shot that made teams pay at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup as well as his entire rookie year in the OHL where he had 37 goals!

 

The rounding out of Perfetti’s offensive game was exactly what the entire scouting world wanted to see. He does have a bit of an awkward stride that may hold him back in all-out sprints but his elite IQ is the strength behind his mobility. He gets to where he needs to be and controls the game with the puck on his stick. Whether he sticks at center will likely depend on how much he can improve his foot speed and acceleration, the IQ and puck skills are certainly there.

 

Nay! Shakir Mukhamadullin!

New Jersey Devils 20th Overall

 

The Devils were the team to bite the bullet. I’ll start with something positive. There is a massive pile of clay to mold here. He is big and has some decent skating ability. His shot is big and he can do some damage on the powerplay. New Jersey had three first-round picks and nailed the first two with Alexander Holtz and Dawson Mercer.

 

Now for why he made the ‘Nay’ list. The pile of clay is in a cave. You have to find the cave in a mountain range. You have no map. In other words, there is a lot of work to do. If you’re going to swing, you might as well do it after you’ve got two other solid prospects but boy oh boy, this seemed like a reach.

 

Yay! Yaroslav Askarov!

Nashville Predators 11th Overall

 

Nothing warmed my heart more than Yaroslav Askarov going to Nashville after telling Smashville he would. I have to credit my DraftCast co-host Jokke Nevalainen for putting the idea in my head but it made all the sense in the world. With Pekka Rinne coming to the end of his career and Juuse Saros not establishing himself as a legitimate NHL starter, the Nashville crease will need a goalie to come in within the next two years to be a 1A/1B with Saros. Queue Yaroslav Askarov.

 

Almost any player selected at 11, especially from the field that was available, would be about two years away from the NHL. “But Tony! Goalies aren’t ready in two years!” This kid will be. He is playing at the KHL level already and has done well when there. He has dominated nearly every tournament he has been in outside of the World Juniors this past season where he was two years younger than most of the players there. He has all of the tools to be an NHL number one. When you watch the young Russian netminder, he looks closer to an NHL goalie than any goalie in junior hockey or even European pro-hockey. This kid is special.

 

Nay! Justin Barron!

Colorado Avalanche 25th Overall 

 

Coming into the year, Justin Barron was high on many rankings. He was often projected to be the second defender off the board. He was coming off a very good season on a strong Halifax Mooseheads team. His skating and quick decision making with all that talent around him made him one of the more promising players for the 2020 draft.

 

Then a disaster 2019-20 season happened. Without the talent around him, he struggled to really regain his form offensively and his defensive flaws were a bit more exposed. Next came the health issues. Barron dealt with some blood clots throughout the year and did manage to return after a long layoff but didn’t really get a chance to get his feet under him. The tools are there for Justin Barron. His skating is good, he has a good shot and he can make a good first pass. He just needs to stay healthy and figure out how to put it all together without being overly reliant on his teammates. This ‘Nay’ is more about the risk involved than anything.

 

Yay! Rodion Amirov!

Toronto Maple Leafs 15th Overall

 

This one is odd. We should have expected it. We should have known that Toronto’s “nerd” would pick the smart, skilled, and silky smooth Russian winger if he was available. It makes all the sense in the world. It’s the exact pick I wanted unless Lundell or Askarov fell. So why does this get a ‘Yay’? Kyle Dubas didn’t fall into the trap that so many in the media and Leafs Nation fell into. Draft a right-shot defensive defenseman because your roster is devoid of one (or more?).

 

The issue with that logic is that Braden Schneider, even if optimistically projected, is at least a year away, likely two years away. Does that mean you aren’t going to fix your roster until he’s ready? No, and when he does get into your lineup he will probably be on your third pairing. You fix your roster with players ready for the NHL. Whether that means giving Rasmus Sandin and/or Timothy Liljegren a shot to play a more fulltime look or you trade a forward or two for a defender is a conversation for another day. What I do know is that Braden Schneider, while a good player and strong defensive player, was not the best player on my board at 15 and it seems he wasn’t the best player on the Leafs board either. Mine had Amirov. The Leafs had the same.

 

Best Available Heading Into Day 2

This is the remaining members of the Top-50 from the Scouting Team’s Top-100. There will be a ton of talent going early on day two!

18 Noel Gunler
19 Helge Grans
26 Jan Mysak
27 Marat Khusnutdinov
28 Topi Niemelä
29 Emil Andrae
30 Thomas Bordeleau
31 John-Jason Peterka
32 Jérémie Poirier
34 Daniil Gushchin
36 Theodor Niederbach
37 Kasper Simontaival
38 William Wallinder
39 Ryan O’Rourke
40 Jean-Luc Foudy
42 Joel Blomqvist
43 Tristen Robins
44 Alexander Pashin
45 Tyler Tullio
46 Daniel Torgersson
47 Brock Faber
48 Ty Smilanic
50 Zion Nybeck

 

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Thanks for reading my thoughts on some of the picks in the first round, be sure to follow me on Twitter @TheTonyFerrari as I’ll be live-tweeting the whole second day of the draft. Be sure to check out the DobberProspects Scouting Team’s Top-100 and Cam Robinson’s Top-93!

 

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