NHL Draft: Podium Worthy Draft Classes

Tony Ferrari

2020-10-08

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY – OCTOBER 06: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman prepares for the first round of the 2020 National Hockey League Draft at the NHL Network Studio on October 06, 2020 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The second day of the 2020 NHL Draft was a blast! There were some great picks, some questionable picks, and some picks of guys no one knew. As always, there were trades and picks being swapped as well as a few NHL players on the move. Sometimes you watch a team draft over the course of two days and realize that they are just doing things at a different level than some other teams. Today, we’ll take a look at three ‘Podium Worthy’ classes and award a gold, silver, and bronze medal to the three teams that I feel got the most value out of their draft picks and why!

 

Gold Medal – Carolina Hurricanes

Draft picks courtesy of NHL.com

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this before but the Carolina Hurricanes are really good at drafting. They didn’t have their own first-round pick but did have Toronto’s at 13th overall and added some offensive pop with Seth Jarvis, the top player drafted out of the WHL. The high octane winger brings an exciting offensive toolset to the Canes prospect pool. He plays a bit of fearless game, attacking the high danger areas and converting at a high rate. Jarvis should be a quality dual-threat option at the next level.

 

The Hurricanes made a habit of stopping a player’s slide and it began with the selection of divisive Swedish winger Noel Gunler. The talent has never really been a question for the lethal shooter, rather he needs to commit to being a pro and coming to the rink ready to play each night. He has top-line upside as a triggerman and feisty battler but he needs to do it every night. Much like Gunler, Vasili Ponomaryov is a player who has some skill but comes with some motor issues. When he’s going, he can be an effective playmaker.

 

Adding a big defender next in Alexander Nikishin, they bring a stout defender into the fold. He played in the KHL last year so he is used to playing with men, the question is where does his upside land him. Their next pick has the opposite problem. He has a smart, skilled game but his frame might hold him back as they selected diminutive forward Zion Nybeck. The bet on talent with Nybeck is more than worth it at 115th.

 

 

Ronan Seeley and Lucas Mercuri were solid additions and decent picks to add some variety to the class but the true gem might be the player taken 199th overall, Alexander Pashin. Falling almost certainly because of his size, the hyper-aggressive and highly skilled Pashin plays with speed and skill, burning his opponents regularly with his ability to find some open space. If Pashin were two inches taller, he might have been selected a bit closer to his teammate Rodion Amirov.

 

Silver Medal – Los Angeles Kings

Draft picks courtesy of NHL.com

 

The Kings were narrowly edged by the Hurricanes and it might not even be fair. The Kings turned everything they touched into gold it seemed. They didn’t over complicate things early and grabbed the player with the highest upside in the entire draft in Quinton Byfield second overall. The massive center plays with the speed and skill we’ve come to expect from a player who is 5’11” but the hulking Byfield stands 6’4″. He was the best center available and might be the best player from the class when it’s all said and done.

 

The second round featured both my own and the DobberProspects Scouting team’s third-best defender in Helge Grans and U.S. National Development Team Program member Brock Faber. Grans is a big Swede who skates well and has the ability to pitch in on both special teams, likely in a secondary role. Faber is a picture-perfect skater who showed some good two-way ability this year.

 

Adding the highly skilled Kasper Simontaival in the third round was another tidy piece of work for general manager Rob Blake. The Finnish forward has a ton of skill and brings excitement to the game when he has the puck. They also made a move to acquire Lias Andersson from the New York Rangers for the 60th overall pick, used to select Will Cuylle. The former seventh overall pick from 2017 has been in need of a change of scenery and this might allow him to flourish after a season at home in Sweden. While not technically a pick, I’m lumping him into their class.

 

 

The hits didn’t stop there though! Alex Laferriere was taken at 83rd and while that might be a bit high, he is a player who I pegged for the mid-late rounds as a value grab. Ben Meehan has his fans, EliteProspects’ J.D. Burke among them and represents a nice swing on talent late in the draft. The real nice piece that makes this class very good though is Martin Chromiak at 128th overall. He may not be a guy who drives play or pushes the pace on his own but he played very well with Shane Wright and not everyone can play with a high-level talent like that and hold their head above water and Chromiak did more than that.

 

Bronze Medal – San Jose Sharks

Draft picks courtesy of NHL.com

 

The top two spots were pretty clear cut with the only decision being who wins the gold. The bronze was a bit more up for debate. Despite Toronto and Detroit both having very solid showings, acknowledging my bias towards those clubs, the San Jose Sharks were given the bronze. Doug Wilson Jr. capped the first round by adding the skilled and firey Ozzy Wiesblatt by using sign language to spell out “Ozzy” before audibly announcing the pick. Why you ask? Ozzy Wiesblatt’s mother is deaf. The gesture meant a lot to the family as the Sharks welcomed their newest member to their family.

 

 

For a team who gave up their own first-rounder – the number three pick – to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade, they made out with some quality talent for a team that is in desperate need of young talent. Thomas Bordeleau is a skilled, shifty forward who plays center but likely profiles as a winger at the next level. His playmaking is very good, often the driving force offensively for the U.S. NTDP club. Tristen Robins was a forward who shot up draft boards towards the end of the year and for good reason, the kid can play! Just ask DobberProspects Western Scout Joel Henderson.

 

Daniil Gushchin is a highly-skilled forward who will be moving to Niagara of the OHL next season and should be an instant impact player in the OHL. Insane puck skills and a very good shot, Gushchin will welcome some help around him. Brandon Coe has the size, skating and str