Prospect Ramblings: Buy Low on the 2020 Draft Class—Except Askarov

Ben Gehrels

2022-11-23

This is a heads up that there are plenty of great buy low opportunities from the 2020 draft class right now. Except for Tim Stutzle (OTT), Lucas Raymond (DET), and Jake Sanderson (OTT)—picked third through fifth that year—everyone else drafted in the top 15 and beyond has arguably underperformed so far, whether this year or previously. Let’s do a quick survey.

The skilled 2020 crop is particularly intriguing because the first players from this group will start hitting their 200-game Breakout Thresholds by the end of 2022-23: Stutzle and first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere (NYR) are both about 50 games away. Others like Raymond, Jamie Drysdale (ANA), and Dawson Mercer (NJD) should hit in 2023-24, while a third wave that includes Anton Lundell (FLA), Seth Jarvis (CAR), and Yegor Chinakov (CBJ) will “arrive” the year after that barring injury and other circumstances.

Stutzle, Raymond, and Sanderson are proof that players can of course start producing before they hit their BTs (the theory’s success rate is around 80/20) but this is a helpful reminder to try to acquire these guys before they start picking up their play and hitting the scoresheet on a regular basis. At that point, they will likely be too expensive to trade for reasonably.

There are some notable omissions from that BT list: Quinton Byfield (2nd overall to LAK, 54 NHL games), Alex Holtz (7th to NJD, 13), Jack Quinn (8th to BUF, 15), Marco Rossi (9th to MIN, 18), Cole Perfetti (10th to WPG, 35), Dylan Holloway (14th to EDM, 15), etc.

Of all the players mentioned so far, Byfield and Rossi are especially tricky because they both qualify as “exceptionally sized,” which means we can expect their breakouts to take an extra 200 games. Assuming both players get back to seeing NHL ice regularly—Byfield is currently in the AHL and Rossi has been a non-factor—that means we can expect both players to hit 400 games near the end of 2026-27. That estimate assumes they stay healthy and see regular minutes (ie. no more healthy scratches). Those are big ifs, and four years is an incomprehensibly long time in fantasy.

Do with that information what you will. I use it to temper my expectations for them in the short term so I can either stay patient when they struggle year after year or calculate when to buy low on them from frustrated managers. That time could even be right now: Byfield