Prospect Ramblings: What Your 2020 First Round Pick Says About You

by Brayden Olafson on May 29, 2020

 

 

If you’re a millennial like me, or a Gen-Z like many other readers, you’re likely familiar with TikTok and the various trends that the video-based social media platform is famous for. If not, here’s a sample – it’s been an entertaining way to pass the time during these times of social isolation to say the least. In fact, Dobber Prospect’s own Joel Henderson [@dathockeydoe] is somewhat of a TikTok celebrity… check it out.

 

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One of the trends that have caught fire on TikTok is the “What your ______ says about you” meme. These videos feature an individual who fills in the blank with a noun, and generalizes people based on their possession of or association with that noun… I’ll let them explain:

 

 

For today’s Ramblings,’ I wanted to play off the trend with a hockey prospect spin, specifically focusing on some of the top prospects eligible for the 2020 draft. Although we more commonly evaluate a player more directly, I thought it would be fun to take a unique angle and evaluate teams’ values based on the player that they select. If this isn’t making sense yet, keep reading, it’ll all come together shortly. 

 

For two reasons, I think this will only be engaging if we focus on some of the players who are projected to go outside of the top-5. The first few picks will be made almost undeniably in order of “best available” as judged by the team – as such, there won’t be much to interpret about what those selections say about the team, whereas deeper into the draft, there is likely much more subjectivity when it comes to making a selection than simply being the “best available”. Secondly, the top players in the draft simply already receive an abundance of coverage here on DP. We’re looking at a deep draft and there are plenty of players who are owed their dues. 

 

What drafting Dawson Mercer says about you…

 

 

From the perspective of an NHL franchise, if you’re banking on picking up Dawson Mercer in the 10-20 range (approximately where he’s ranked) chances are that you’re not extremely risk-averse and err on the side of value rather than growth potential. 

 

That isn’t to say by any means, that Mercer has topped out. Rather, as players ranked in this range of the draft go, he seems to have the most secure growth floor. Mercer’s growth potential, however, doesn’t appear to have the projection range of other mid-first round projected players like Mavrik Borque, Dylan Holloway, and Seth Jarvis. While any of those three players could wind up being absolute steals in the 15-20 range, they will do so by relying on traits such as individual puck skills, and junior-level elusiveness that are typically less translatable to the NHL level and therefore riskier. By that token, each could eventually be deemed a bust from the same range.

 

Mercer has had a well-rounded showing in his draft year, not only at the major-junior level but also at the CIBC Canada-Russia Series. His performance for Team QMJHL earned him a surprise spot on the Canadian roster at the 2020 World Junior Championship in Ostrava, and although it was in a relatively minor capacity, he’ll enter his draft+1 slate as a favorite for next year’s top-six group. 

 

What drafting Helge Grans says about you…

 

Photo courtesy of https://www.skd.se/

 

By drafting Helge Grans, in the first round, an NHL franchise will quietly declare the importance of diversification when it comes to managing the risk of their selections. That is not to say that Grans is not an inherently risky player – he does take more risks than many draft-eligible defensemen. It is to say, however, that his diverse skill set will help the team who drafts him to manage their risk by allowing him to develop into one of several types or tiers of NHL defensemen. This, as opposed to being restricted to the skillset of a player who may only ever be capable of playing a single type of role (Top-two offensive defenseman; bottom pairing shutdown defenseman; etc.) gives the organization the best of all worlds. 

 

The 6-3, right-shot defenseman possesses a satisfactory aptitude in almost every aspect that could be expected of a modern professional defenseman.  His strengths in the areas of puck protection, puck retrieval/battling, and vision are second to very few in this class. Along with those major strengths, Grans has good puck skills and a decent shot. One area of his game that undoubtedly needs improvement is his foot speed. The Swede has a good long stride, with mechanics that keep him well-balanced at top-speed, however, the big truck needs a little more throttle to get moving. It’s something that he can certainly improve on, but in the short term, it will keep him in a developmental state. 

 

What drafting Hendrix Lapierre says about you…

 

 

Let’s just say… you like to party.

 

Perhaps the player with the most underlying risk who could be selected in the first round is the firecracker Chicoutimee forward, Hendrix Lapierre. The Sagueneens forward is one of the most electric players in the CHL and possesses a talent that in many ways rivals the players who will be selected in the top-five of this draft. 

 

Where the party aspect, and therefore, apparent disregard for associated risk comes into play is when you begin to consider his injury history, and frankly, his apparent inability to protect himself on the ice. In some ways, Lapierre’s history of putting his body on the line is a testament to his pure desire, determination, and focus when it comes to being a productive force and good teammate. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that hockey is a results-oriented business, and in order to consistently provide results, you need to be consistently healthy. 

 

The risk of future injury seems to be inherent with Lapierre, but on the other hand, so does the productivity and leadership, when healthy. He has the potential to become a star player in the NHL one day, but may be at risk of only providing a blip of service to the team that drafts him. Is there a team that is willing to pay the hefty price of a mid-first round pick in order to obtain a player like this? Yeah, I think there is. It’s my hope that we get to see the full potential and electricity of Lapierre at the NHL level, and that he goes on to have a healthy and proactive NHL career, but that doesn’t change the fact that, if a team chooses him in the first round, they are swinging hard for the fences with their fingers crossed. 

 

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Thanks for reading my piece on 2020 draft eligibles. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below in the comments or find me on Twitter @olaf1393.