Top 2020 NHL Draft Prospects
With the draft lottery set for June 26th, teams that fell short of the qualifying round of the amended playoff format have their attention turned to the top prospects of the upcoming draft. Count down with us as we introduce the top 10 draft prospects for the upcoming 2020 draft.
Jake Sanderson (USNTDP)
Age 17 | Position: Left Defensemen
Jake Sanderson, the son of former NHLer Geoff Sanderson, projects as the first American to be selected in the 2020 NHL draft. The 6’2” left-handed defensemen from Whitefish, Montana is ranked as the 2nd best defensemen in the 2020 draft class and has the size and two-way skills to translate into a strong defender at the NHL level. Sanderson captained the Under-18 US National team and put up 29 points in 47 games, proving he can lead both on and off the ice. Sanderson is committed to play college hockey at the University of North Dakota. Depending on which team selects Sanderson in the 2020 draft, it may not be long until Sanderson leaves UND and is playing at the NHL level.
Alexander Holtz (Djurgardens IF)
Age 18 | Position: Right Wing
Alexander Holtz is best described as a pure goal scorer. The 5’11” Swedish winger has filled the net at every level he has played while climbing the Swedish league ranks, reaching the SHL as a full-time player for the 2019-20 season. Playing against men, many of whom were previous NHL players, Holtz held his own potting 9 goals and 7 assists in 35 games. Holtz has a wicked shot and has a knack for finding prime scoring areas on the ice. Holtz’s one weakness would be his skating which is considered average. But Holtz has proven he can score goals at the professional level and his offensive potential is seemingly limitless. Holtz is a surefire top 10 pick for the 2020 draft.
Yaroslav Askarov (SKA Neva St. Petersburg)
Age 18 | Position: Goalie
Yaroslav Askarov is far and away the best goaltending prospect in the 2020 NHL draft. Against grown men at just 17 years of age, the 6’3” Russian netminder had a glowing 12-3-3 record while posting a .920 save percentage in the VHL, the second-tier league in Russia. Additionally, Askarov has shined on the international level with his most notable tournament being the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament where he led Russia to a gold medal and had a sparkling .960 save percentage. At 6’3” Askarov has great size to go along with his great rebound control and his ability to take away seemingly all parts of the net with his strong angle. While projecting the careers of goalies can be very difficult, Askarov seems to be as close to a slam dunk as you can get. It would not be a shock to see Askarov become the first goalie to be selected in the top 10 since Carey Price was selected 5th overall in 2005.
Cole Perfetti (Saginaw)
Age 18 | Position: Center
Cole Perfetti followed up his impressive OHL debut season with a spectacular sophomore season in 2019-20. The 5’11” Canadian center matched his 37 goals from his rookie season but doubled his assist total from 37 to 74 to give him 111 points in 61 games. Perfetti led the Saginaw Spirit in points by 31 and proved that he was both an elite scorer and a playmaker. Perfetti’s offensive zone vision and ability to create space for both himself and his linemates is what separates Perfetti from most of his draft class. Perfetti’s high IQ along with his great shot and speed make him a no-doubt top 10 prospect for the 2020 draft and he will surely make an impact in the NHL one day.
Jamie Drysdale (Erie)
Age 18 | Position: Right Defensemen
Erie Otters defensemen and alternate captain Jamie Drysdale is the top-rated defensemen in the 2020 NHL draft. The 5’11” Drysdale followed up his strong 40 point rookie season where he made the OHL all-rookie team with a near point per game season in 2019-20 with 47 points in 49 games. Drysdale’s elite speed and hockey IQ make him a great two-way defender with the potential to be a team’s #1 defensemen for 10-15 years. Drysdale has great vision and can create quick transitions with both his passing and his skating ability. The one weakness Drysdale has is his size as he will need a year or two to put on some muscle to help him win more puck battles in his own zone. Drysdale is a top-level talent and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Drysdale selected as high as 3rd overall in the 2020 NHL draft.
Marco Rossi (Ottawa)
Age 18 | Position: Center
Marco Rossi and his 120 points in the 2019-20 season led what was a very offensively gifted Ottawa 67’s team. Rossi, along with fellow 2020 projected first round pick Jack Quinn, helped the 67’s to a 50 win season which saw Rossi climb the draft rankings. The Austrian forward has excellent speed and elite playmaking ability to go along with his great puck control skills. Additionally, Rossi is very strong defensively as he can kill penalties and is great in the faceoff dot. The one question mark with Rossi is his size as he stands at just 5’9” but the list of small players who have seen success in the NHL is quickly growing and with Rossi’s elite speed and work ethic there is no reason why he can’t join that list.
Lucas Raymond (Frolunda HC)
Age 18 | Position: Left Wing
Lucas Raymond is a left winger for the Frolunda Indians of the SHL that oozes potential. Like his fellow Swedish countryman Alexander Holtz, Raymond plays again the top competition in Sweden in the SHL. Raymond recorded a respectable 4 goals and 6 assists in 33 games in 2019-20. But it was on the international stage where Raymond became a household name. Playing as a 17 year old in the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship Raymond put up 4 goals and 4 assists in 7 games which included the OT winner in the gold medal game to complete a hattrick. The 5’10” Swedish winger has great speed to go along with great hands and a great shot. The one knock on Raymond is his lack of production at some levels but when playing against players his age Raymond has performed very well. Raymond will need a couple of years to round out his overall game and get accustomed to North American ice but he has the potential to be an elite first line winger in the NHL and should be a top 5 pick.
Tim Stutzle (Mannheim)
Age 18 | Position: Center/Left Wing
Tim Stutzle is perhaps the most exciting prospect in the 2020 NHL draft class. Since his appearance in the World Junior Championships this past winter where he recorded 5 assists in 5 games for a surprising Germany team, Stutzle’s stock has skyrocketed. The 6’1” German center/winger scored 7 goals and had 27 assists for 34 points in 41 games playing in the DEL, Germany’s top league. The 18 year old Stutzle more than held his own and has flashed incredible speed and acceleration and has proved to be nearly unstoppable on the rush. His elite edgework and acceleration make him a nightmare for defenders and his ability to create space and find the open man in the offensive zone make him a premier offensive weapon who will only improve in the coming years. Stutzle could stand to put on some muscle to help him become stronger on the puck but there is no denying he possesses elite puck skills and speed. Stutzle is a top 5 pick who could be selected as high as 2nd overall.
Quinton Byfield (Sudbury)
Age 17 | Position: Center
When looking at Quinton Byfield and his game, it is tough to find many flaws. The 6’4” Canadian center has the combination of size and ability that allows him to dominate his competition. After being selected 1st overall in the 2018 OHL priority draft, Byfield has won OHL and CHL rookie of the year while leading his team in scoring both years. Byfield is not only a great skater for his size but a great skater in general as he is good on his edges and can accelerate really well. Additionally, Byfield is strong on the puck and wins puck battles on a consistent basis that allow him and his teammates to possess the puck and create scoring opportunities. Byfield is a high IQ player that plays a 200-foot game but also possesses a strong shot and great vision in the offensive zone. Byfield, just 17 years old, is a future star but also has the size and ability to potentially play in the NHL immediately making him an easy top 3 selection in the upcoming NHL draft.
Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski)
Age 18 | Position: Left Wing
For nearly 3 years now, we have all been hearing the name Alexis Lafreniere. The 6’1” winger from Quebec has been the projected 1st overall pick for the 2020 draft class from the start, locking in his status thanks to a fantastic 3rd season playing for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. Lafreniere recorded 35 goals and 77 points for a league-leading 112 points. In addition to tearing up the QMJHL, Lafreniere scored 4 goals and 6 assists for 10 points in just 5 games in the World Junior Championships this past winter to help lead Canada to gold and win himself tournament MVP at just 18 years old. Lafreniere is described as a generational talent who possesses elite speed and a strong lower body that allows him to fight off defenders and control the puck. In addition to his immense skill, he is a hard worker and natural leader who is used to winning at every level. Lafreniere is a franchise player and will step into the NHL immediately as the 1st overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft.