With the release of NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Guillaume Lepage make their predictions on how the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft could turn out.
Alexis Lafreniere will be the first player chosen at the 2020 NHL Draft, according to three NHL.com writers.
After that, however, their opinions differ greatly.
[RELATED: Full 2020 NHL Draft Coverage]
The 2020 NHL Draft will be held at Bell Centre in Montreal from June 26-27.
The order used for his mock draft was based on NHL standings after games played Jan. 10. The final order will be set after the Stanley Cup Final.
The Ottawa Senators are the only team that currently has two selections in the first round. In addition to their selection, they have the San Jose Sharks’ pick from the Erik Karlsson trade Sept. 13, 2018.
The Tampa Bay Lightning (Vancouver Canucks), Carolina Hurricanes (Toronto Maple Leafs) and New Jersey Devils (Arizona Coyotes) have acquired conditional first-round picks that could change hands based on how teams finish the season.
1. Detroit Red Wings
Kimelman — Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL): Lafreniere’s MVP performance for Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship showed why the 18-year-old forward (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) is the most talented player available, and the no-doubt No. 1 choice.
Morreale — Lafreniere: Lafreniere has dominated the QMJHL and likely will become the third player from that league chosen No. 1 in the NHL Draft in the past eight years after Halifax forward Nathan MacKinnon (2013, Colorado Avalanche) and Halifax forward Nico Hischier (2017; New Jersey Devils).
Lepage — Lafreniere: If there was any debate as to whether he was going to be the first pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, he laid to rest any doubts by soaring past the competition at the WJC.
2. New Jersey Devils
Kimelman — Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL): The Devils have good, young talent through the middle with Hischier and Jack Hughes but adding a player with Byfield’s size (6-4, 215) and ability to take over a game with his strength and skill will go a long way toward boosting their rebuilding effort.
Morreale — Tim Stuetzle, LW, Mannheim (GER): He is a 6-foot-1, 187-pound left-shot forward capable of playing all situations. Stuetzle has outstanding speed, puck handling, vision and competitiveness, plus some swagger to his game. He had five assists and averaged 18:43 in ice time in five games for Germany at the 2020 WJC.
Lepage — Byfield: He may be one of the youngest players in the 2020 Draft class — he turned 17 on Aug. 19 — but Byfield also is one of the most imposing and complete. He offers an excellent blend of speed, skill and strength.
3. Ottawa Senators
Kimelman — Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SWE): The playmaking right-handed forward (5-11, 170) combines a determined 200-foot game with an offensive skillset that’s been compared to Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner.
Morreale — Byfield: The left-shot center is a powerful skater with breakaway speed and an exceptional skill set.
Lepage — Stuetzle: He has an extremely smooth skating stride and an impressive vision of the game. He is following in the footsteps of countryman Leon Draisaitl, who was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft.
4. Anaheim Ducks
Kimelman — Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL): The Ducks have done a nice job selecting young forwards the past few seasons, and now they can add the best defenseman available. The 17-year-old right-handed shot (5-11, 175) is an outstanding skater in all directions with the ability to lead the rush, and has top-end offensive skills once his team sets up in the zone, which he demonstrated with Canada at the WJC. His skating also makes him an outstanding 1-on-1 defender.
Morreale — Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL): The Austria-born left-handed shot (5-9, 183) is tough in his end and possesses high hockey IQ and good hands.
Lepage — Raymond: Raymond has great hands and can create magic in the offensive zone at any moment. He’s also relied on to kill penalties, which speaks volumes about his versatility.
5. Los Angeles Kings
Kimelman — Stuetzle: The 17-year-old already is a star on one of the best teams in Germany’s pro league. Stuetzle is a dynamic skater with great vision who can find open players anywhere in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SWE): A smart right-handed shot (5-11, 192) with good on-ice-vision, technical skills and a tremendous shot who can see openings and set up teammates.
Lepage — Drysdale: Known first and foremost as an offensive defenseman, Drysdale also can take on top defensive assignments without issue, even while competing at the highest level, which he proved as a 17-year-old with Canada at the WJC.
6. Montreal Canadiens
Kimelman — Holtz: The 17-year-old has one of the best shots in the 2020 Draft class, with the ability to get it off from anywhere at any time. He patterns his game after other high-end snipers like Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos.
Morreale — Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (FIN): The strong two-way left-handed shot (6-1, 185) returned Jan. 4 from an elbow injury that kept him out for six weeks. When healthy he is tough to knock off his skates, can protect the puck extremely well and is able to find teammates in traffic.
Lepage — Holtz: He certainly knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. Holtz is a sniper who knows how to blend in and get open. Paired with a playmaker, he can wreak havoc.
7. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)
Kimelman — Yaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St. Petersburg (RUS-2): The Senators can’t pass on the player some scouts believe is the best goalie prospect since Carey Price in 2005. The 17-year-old has great size (6-3, 176), is technically sound but quick and athletic enough to make any kind of save.
Morreale — Askarov: An intimidating presence in net with great athleticism and a quick glove; he’s won six medals in six international tournaments for Russia.
Lepage — Lundell: The Finland-born forward is a complete player who ultimately could find his way onto a top line in the NHL.
8. Chicago Blackhawks
Kimelman — Lundell: The 18-year-old forward is considered the best two-way player in a deep group of high-end European prospects in the 2020 Draft class. He’s not flashy but is a solid skater with good hockey sense and strong competitive instincts.
Morreale — Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL): His puck skills, vision and execution are on another level from most prospects his age. The 5-10, 177-pound left-handed shot has great puck control and elusiveness.
Lepage — Perfetti: Perfetti isn’t the biggest prospect, but his production cannot be overlooked. He can pass and score and is a real catalyst for those he plays with.
9. Buffalo Sabres
Kimelman — Rossi: The 18-year-old makes up for a lack of size with speed, high-end offensive skill and fierce competitiveness.
Morreale — Raymond: The Sweden-born forward plays a strong two-way game, likes to generate offense and make things happen. He also is a very capable penalty killer.
Lepage — Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin (BIG 10): The 18-year-old college freshman knows how to use his size (6-foot, 203) when the time is right and is a strong skater with good puck skills that allow him to be a consistent offensive threat.
10. Minnesota Wild
Kimelman — Perfetti: Among the smartest players in the 2020 Draft class, the 18-year-old forward has great 1-on-1 offensive skill, and is a strong skater with great vision and finishing ability
Morreale — Drysdale: Drysdale might be the best defenseman available in the 2020 Draft. The right-handed shot is capable of driving play with his skating and elite hockey sense.
Lepage — Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (SWE): The 18-year-old forward (6-2, 176) has a precise, fast and powerful shot and can create space on the ice. He’s also a good playmaker.
11. New York Rangers
Kimelman — Holloway: He skates well, and his speed and strength make him difficult to handle on the forecheck or in front of the opposing net. Holloway is also very good defensively and on the penalty kill.
Morreale — Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18 (NTDP): A mobile, puck-moving left-handed shot who defends with aggression and passion. Sanderson (6-1, 186), committed to the University of North Dakota for next season, steadily is improving his offensive game.
Lepage — Rossi: Rossi might concede a few inches to most opponents, but he compensates with high-end offensive production.
12. Nashville Predators
Kimelman — Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL): At 6-2, 202 pounds, the right-handed shot plays with an edge and has a growing offensive game that has been compared to New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock.
Morreale — Dawson Mercer, C, Drummondville (QMJHL): The 6-foot, 181-pound right-hand shot plays a smart, honest, heads-up game.
Lepage — Askarov: He won’t count his uneven play with Russia at the 2020 WJC among his career highlights but Askarov has been a dominant player for several seasons. He can steal a game on his own, which he proved while helping Russia finish second at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April and again by leading Russia to the championship at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.
13. Columbus Blue Jackets
Kimelman — Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL): The 18-year-old right-handed shot (6-1, 195) is out while receiving treatment for a blood clot, but when healthy he’s considered a mature, complete defenseman built for the way the NHL game is played.
Morreale — Schneider: A hard-skating, right-shot two-way defenseman who is lauded for his competitiveness and hockey IQ.
Lepage — Schneider: An excellent skater for a player his size. He knows how to make correct decisions and recognize the right time to support the attack.
14. Vancouver Canucks
Kimelman — Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL): A strong skater with aggressive offensive instincts, the 17-year-old left-handed shot (6-2, 188) is skilled enough to lead the rush or join the play to create an odd-man situation in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Guhle: A smooth-skating two-way defenseman with a hard shot and imposing size.
Lepage — Mercer: Mercer can do it all and do it well. He has made a smooth transition from wing to center this season and can contribute on the power play and the penalty kill.
15. Florida Panthers
Kimelman — Mercer: A strong skater with good speed and a finishing touch. Also has a knack for finding quiet areas in the offensive zone and getting off a hard, accurate shot.
Morreale — William Wallinder, D, Modo Jr. (SWE): The 6-foot-4, 191-pound left-handed shot is at his best in the defensive zone, but his offensive game is improving. He likes to join the rush and can get the puck to the net.
Lepage — Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (RUS): Playing his first season in the Kontinental Hockey League as an 18-year-old, Amirov (6-foot, 167) isn’t producing at the same rate as he would at a lower level, but his offensive abilities are obvious.
16. Winnipeg Jets
Kimelman — Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL): The playmaking center (6-foot, 177) is one of the oldest players in the 2020 Draft class — his Sept. 25 birthday comes 10 days after the cutoff for the 2019 NHL Draft — and has a mature, all-situation game to match.
Morreale — Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL): The 6-foot, 179-pound forward has risen in the opinion of scouts because of his versatility in succeeding at all three forward positions and his knack for producing offense.
Lepage — Zary: Zary is a strong and smooth skater. He has good hands and is lethal around the net.
17. Philadelphia Flyers
Kimelman — Wallinder: Wallinder opened eyes at the Under-20 5 Nations Tournament in November with his mobility, hockey sense and puck skills. His game still needs some polish, but four of the Flyers’ seven NHL defensemen are 24 or younger, so they have time to let Wallinder develop.
Morreale — Zary: Zary has taken steps this season as a dominant two-way player in the Western Hockey League. He contributes at both ends of the ice and is a big reason for the success in Kamloops.
Lepage — Guhle: Having gained experience in Prince Albert’s quest for the WHL title last season, Guhle has taken on more important tasks successfully this season. His skating and physical play are his best qualities.
18. Calgary Flames
Kimelman — Gunler: Gunler rarely passes up the chance to get a shot on goal. His wrist shot is hard and accurate, and he’s willing and able to score with it from anywhere in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Holloway: The left-handed shot is a two-way center with a great skill set, hands, competitiveness and the drive to create offense.
Lepage — John-Jason Peterka, LW, Munchen (GER): This dynamic Germany-born forward (5-11, 192) dazzled at the WJC with six points (four goals, two assists) in seven games. He is a fast skater and sees the game at the same speed.
19. Edmonton Oilers
Kimelman — Jacob Perreault, RW, Sarnia (OHL): The Oilers need a finisher and Perreault has shown to have a goal scorer’s mindset. His strength (5-11, 200) can make him hard to handle deep in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Amirov: An offensive-minded forward capable of playing in all situations who is skilled, fast and smart with the puck.
Lepage — Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL): Even playing against the top opposing lines, the 18-year-old forward (5-10, 168) manages to produce big offensive numbers; he has 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) in 39 games. He is fearless and will not hesitate to play physically when necessary
20. Arizona Coyotes
Kimelman — Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL): The left-handed shot (6-foot, 199) is elusive and an outstanding skater in all directions with the puck. Plays a style reminiscent of Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
Morreale — Gunler: The forward has good passing skills and shot selection and is a reliable team player.
Lepage — Perreault: After scoring 30 goals in his first season in the OHL, Perreault already is approaching that with 26 goals in 39 games this season. He has an undeniable flair and an NHL-ready shot.
21. Vegas Golden Knights
Kimelman — Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Ufa (RUS): The left-handed shot already is showing he’s capable of playing against men in the Kontinental Hockey League at 18. He can use his strength and size (6-3, 178) to his advantage defensively. His offensive game is developing quickly. He’s a good passer and has shown he can make big plays in big situations — he scored in double-overtime for Russia in the championship game at the World Junior A Challenge in December.
Morreale — Perreault: The son of former NHL forward Yanic Perreault, Jacob is creative with the puck, can execute plays at top speed and possesses one of the best shots in the 2020 Draft class.
Lepage — Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): O’Rourke offers a clever mix of mobility, reliability and physical play. Though he’s only 6-foot, 173 pounds, he’s strong along the boards, and has a powerful shot from the point.
22. Toronto Maple Leafs
Kimelman — Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL): Injuries have been an issue for Lapierre (5-11, 179) during his junior career, but when healthy he has top-end offensive skills. He’s quick, elusive and is able to use his skating to create time and space for himself and his linemates in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Lapierre: Currently out indefinitely because of an upper-body injury, when healthy he has great hockey sense, competitiveness and playmaking qualities.
Lepage — Lapierre: He sustained two concussions within a month earlier this season and may not be ready to return before the QMJHL playoffs. Obviously, this is a concern, but the talent is there.
23. Carolina Hurricanes
Kimelman — Sanderson: The Hurricanes are strong at defenseman now but need to add some young players to the system. That makes Sanderson, a strong, smooth skater with a developing offensive game, too good to pass on. There’s also some family tradition here; the Hartford Whalers selected Jake’s father, Geoff Sanderson, in the second round (No. 36) of the 1990 NHL Draft.
Morreale — Lukas Reichel, LW, Eisbaren Berlin (GER): He is a smart playmaker with good hands capable of getting into the right spots on the ice. The 17-year-old forward (6-foot, 170) had five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games for Germany at the 2020 WJC.
Lepage — Ty Smilanic, C, USA U18 (NTDP): Smilanic (6-1, 177) is a hard worker and that work pays off on the ice. Thanks to his excellent skating and puck handling, he is an offensive threat not to be underestimated.
24. Colorado Avalanche
Kimelman — Smilanic: Born in Elizabeth, Colorado, Smilanic works hard in all three zones and has developed a powerful shot he’s able to get off from anywhere in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW, Prince Albert (WHL): The right-shot forward (5-10, 183) is a smart and tenacious player on the puck, quick to find openings and has excelled since moving to center from right wing earlier this season.
Lepage — Barron: When healthy, the defenseman is reliable and knows how to transition the puck quickly and efficiently. However, there are questions about his long-term offensive upside.
25. Dallas Stars
Kimelman — Bourque: A strong skater who is elusive with the puck and reads the play well enough to find gaps in the defense he can exploit. Bourque is also a hard worker in the defensive zone and has some Patrice Bergeron-like qualities to his game.
Morreale — Barron: When healthy, the right-shot defenseman is an excellent skater capable of making the good first pass.
Lepage — Jan Mysak, C, Hamilton (OHL): After starting the season with Litvinov in the top professional league in the Czech Republic, Mysak has opted to play the rest of the season in the OHL. He has an impressive set of tools and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the North American style of play.
26. Tampa Bay Lightning
Kimelman — Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL): Drafting and developing young defensemen has been an issue for the Lightning; since 2010, Slater Koekkoek (No. 12, 2012) and Radko Gudas (No. 66, 2010) are the only defensemen selected in the first three rounds to play a game for Tampa Bay. Cormier, while undersized (5-9, 167), is well-regarded for his speed, passing ability and elusiveness, and has the potential fill an organizational need.
Morreale — Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL): Jarvis (5-9, 179), a right-handed shot, is a goal scorer with good competitiveness, quickness and an accurate shot. He has 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 37 games this season.
Lepage — Poirier: Poirier stands out for his offensive ability. He needs to get stronger on the defensive side, but his vision on the ice and hockey sense can allow him to become a fourth forward at times.
27. New York Islanders
Kimelman — Vasiliy Ponomarev, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL): A smart playmaker with a hard, heavy shot, the 17-year-old forward (5-10, 178) has made a quick adjustment to North American ice in his first season from his native Russia.
Morreale — William Cuylle, LW, Windsor (OHL): The 6-2, 204-pound power forward plays a physical style, has a fantastic shot, great hockey sense and is highly competitive. He isn’t afraid to skate to the tough areas to create offense.
Lepage — Jean-Luc Foudy, C, Windsor (OHL): Like his brother, Blue Jackets prospect Liam Foudy, Jean-Luc is a very impressive skater. Combined with his excellent on-ice vision, the 17-year-old right-shot forward (5-11, 174) is a formidable playmaker.
28. Pittsburgh Penguins
Kimelman — Amirov: Amirov seems to fit what the Penguins look for in young forwards: smarts, strength on the walls, the ability to play on the power play and penalty kill, and a straight-line approach in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Mysak: He is a smart playmaker with good hands, a quick release and a solid understanding of the game. Mysak had two points (one goal, one assist) and eight shots on goal in five games for the Czech Republic at the 2020 WJC.
Lepage — Cormier: Cormier often is compared to Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard, and with good reason. Cormier controls the game thanks to his vision and his dazzling skating.
29. St. Louis Blues
Kimelman — Cuylle: The big, strong power forward can be hard to handle as a forechecker, and has a nice, quick release on his wrist shot.
Morreale — Foudy: The right-shot center has the speed, puck control and playmaking ability to thrive in the NHL.
Lepage — Cuylle: His physical and relentless style of play makes him hard to ignore. He skates very well for his size and can be a high-volume shooter.
30. Boston Bruins
Kimelman — Foudy: Foudy gets his track star-level speed from his mother, who won a silver medal for Canada as a sprinter at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Combine that with dangerous offensive skills, and you have a player that could be an important part of the Bruins in the near future.
Morreale — Smilanic: The left-handed shot has dealt with a few issues this season, including mononucleosis, an ankle sprain and currently is out with an upper-body injury. But it would be hard to pass on one of the fastest skaters and top playmakers in the 2020 Draft. He’s committed to Quinnipiac University, about a two-hour drive southwest from Boston.
Lepage — Sanderson: Sanderson may not have the same offensive upside as some of the other defensemen in the 2020 Draft, but he makes up for it with his consistency and defensive reliability.
31. Washington Capitals
Kimelman — Reichel: A smart playmaker with a high hockey IQ who knows how to get to the right places, and the quick hands to make the play when he gets there.
Morreale — Peterka: A strong skater with good hockey IQ and the ability to make plays not only for himself but his teammates, as well.
Lepage — Thomas Bordeleau, C, USA U18 (NTDP): This undersized (5-9, 179) 18-year-old forward, the son of former NHL player Sebastian Bordeleau, is creative, fast and very gifted offensively.
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