In the hockey world, glory can be achieved in any number of ways. It can be in the form or a timely save, a blocked shot, or a deft pass. But more often than not, the legends grow off of the goalscorers’ stick. The players who can consistently find the back of the net are forever in demand. It’s the most difficult element of the game to achieve and when you have an opportunity to land one in the draft, you jump.
Today, we’re going to examine some of the premier finishers amongst the 2020 class. Spoiler Alert: there are a good many.
Alexander Holtz, RW (Djurgårdens, SHL)
In a class littered with high-end finishers, Holtz stands alone at the top. The Swedish winger was a terror in the J20 circuit as a 16-year-old in 2018-19. His 30 goals in 38 SuperElit games that year set the single-season record for U17 skaters, passing Daniel Sedin. He came just a single goal short of matching the U18 mark.
This season, the 6′ 183lbs winger moved up to the SHL on an (almost) full-time basis. A quick three-game stint in the J20 league led to seven, yes seven, goals. But while up with the top club, he scored nine times and totalled 16 points in 35 contests. That was double the goal output of any other draft-eligible player in the league. Hell, it was more than any draft-plus one player scored too.
The thing about Holtz’s scoring ability is that he thrives both off of the rush and set up in the offensive zone. He lives to score goals. He’s not the fastest player in the group (although he skates well) but his desire to find the open space and let it rip is unmatched. One of the more impressive developments of his game this past season was further willingness to get into the dirt areas of the ice and whack away. He won’t be able to score just highlight reel tallies, so this newfound grit is a welcomed sign.
The kid has 40 goals written all over him.
Jack Quinn, RW (Ottawa, OHL)
It isn’t often we see a draft-eligible skater score 50 goals in the OHL. In fact, in the last 20 years, we’ve had just seven. John Tavares, Patrick Kane, Connor McDavid, Jeff Skinner, Alex DeBrincat, Arthur Kaliyev and now, Quinn. His 52 goals in 62 games trailed only Nicholas Robertson for the OHL lead.
Here’s a look at #50 for Jack Quinn. Just rips it. pic.twitter.com/4k04XXYC7M— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) March 8, 2020
While Quinn is hanging with some illustrious names in that respect, he lacks the additional elite elements to be considered at the same level as a McDavid or Tavares or Kane. However, what he accomplished for the 67s this season is difficult to ignore. Playing on the best team in the CHL, he was given the benefit of secondary matchups. That was because he primarily played away from CHL point leader, Marco Rossi at even-strength. This was a gift and a punishment. Only having exposure to Rossi on the powerplay means he likely left a few more goals on the board. But not being the focal point of the opposing team offers opportunities.
Quinn has a plus-rated NHL shot at this moment. It’s the reason you’ll see him amongst the top-10 on some draft boards. He screams streaky, top-six scorer who can go off on sizable runs. He’ll be a serious weapon on the man-advantage in the NHL.
Alexis Lafrenière, LW (Rimouski, QMJHL)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Lafrenière on this list. The expected-first-overall selection can score in a variety of ways, but it’s his heavy, quick, and accurate wrist shot that is the most menacing. This is because he’s able to create space for himself with the incredible agility and the slick mitts that he possesses.
Alexis Lafreniere is at it again. He has another 5 points (1+4) today (his fifth 4+ point game this season).— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) October 20, 2019
Here’s the tally pic.twitter.com/nl7opxZCkL
His shot is incredibly quick. Somehow, it’s underrated despite him receiving so much love as a whole. Teams must respect all of his electric tools, and this can often afford him an extra inch or second from out high to let it fly. Despite the major jump in the competition coming for him, I see him translating that ability.
He’s another player who can very conceivably hit 40 goals at some point.
Noel Gunler, RW (Lülea, SHL)
An oft-overlooked asset coming out of Sweden this season, Gunler remains a highly intriguing offensive piece. Like Holtz, he had the ability to consistently score from the outside at the J20 level as a 16-year-old. It took a bit of time for him to adjust to the SHL level this season where that trait is less repeatable. However, once he did, he became an overall threat in Sweden’s top tier.
Gunler has a wicked release but also has the innate ability to find soft spots and watch the puck follow him around. He has the habit of losing focus away from the puck which will continue to irritate coaching staff, so his upside is going to be attached to his ability to either correct that or find a home where it’s accepted.
Cole Perfetti, C (Saginaw, OHL)
Perfetti truly put his name on the goal-scoring map after last year’s Hlinka-Gretzky U18 tournament where he tied Vasily Podkolzin’s tournament record of eight goals in five games. He added some icing on the cake by scoring three times in the shootout against Sweden to send Canada to the gold medal game.
His 37 goals in 63 games this year matched his rookie OHL total and could be considered a bit ‘disappointing’ with how good his shot is. But you could see the 18-year-old was simply taking what the opposition gave him. Opposing teams have to respect his shot, so they would attempt to close in on him quickly. This left passing options open. And he took advantage.
Perfetti is one of the most intelligent players in the group. He uses that IQ to pick apart the defense despite not being the biggest or fastest player. Regardless, his shot remains an incredible threat – something we don’t often see from true centres.
Tyson Foerster, C (Barrie, OHL)
One of the most NHL-ready shots in the class. Foerster can blast away on the power-play with an incredible one-timer. He has a heavy wrister as well, but it’s the one-timer that really stands out.
Brendan Brisson, C (Chicago, USHL)
Another kid who is an assassin on the PP. Brisson has a deadly one-timer from the right circle. One he used frequently on route to being named the USHL Rookie of the Year. He also boasts a quick and accurate wrist shot. He’s one to watch rise up the draft lists.
Seth Jarvis, RW (Portland, WHL)
An all-around scoring threat, Jarvis forces his way into the high-traffic areas and can convert at a high-rate. His play in Portland this season demonstrated the rocketing developmental path he’s on.
Carter Savoie, LW (Sherwood Park, AJHL)
The University of Denver commit was far and away the top goalscorer in the Alberta Jr. A circuit clicking at just under a goal-per-game with 53 in 54. Amongst all U18 skaters in that league, Savoie held a 30 goal cushion on the next best. 30! He’ll need to add more speed and strength to his frame if he plans on translating that nasty finishing ability to the NCAA and then the pros.
Veeti Miettinen, RW (Kiekko-Espoo, Jr. A SM-liiga)
If the 5’9 forward wasn’t saving his amateur status for a trip to St Cloud State next fall, he would have surely seen some time in the Finnish pro circuits. Instead, he was left to absolutely torch the junior ranks. His 42 goals in 52 contests were 14 more than the next closest skater.
Miettinen is expected to be drafted early on Day Two of the draft.
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