2020 NHL Entry Draft Rankings

2020 NHL Entry Draft Rankings

This article is part of our NHL Draft series.

The official date of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft has yet to be determined. This year's proceedings figure to be even wackier than usual given the fact the NHL Draft Scouting Combine, along with in-person team visits and interviews were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first ten-or-so prospects appear to be spoken for but this draft has the potential to go off the rails once we get to the later stages of the lottery. Players with medical concerns would appear to be at additional risk of dropping due to the fact NHL clubs couldn't schedule visits with their own individual doctors. 

Our annual ranking of the top available prospects is below.

(Note: This is NOT a mock draft, nor does it take any team needs into account)

1) Alexis Lafreniere (LW, Rimouski-QMJHL): Lafreniere was anointed as the top 2020 draft prospect at least a couple seasons ago and has managed to hold on to that distinction throughout the draft process. In fact, he has played remarkably consistent hockey throughout his junior career. In short, he's a complete offensive player with the ability to adapt his game to whomever he is playing with. Lafreniere has pretty good size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) and he competes. He hunts down pucks, and in general, makes life miserable for opposing defenders. He is a left-handed shot who plays the left side. He's an excellent playmaker with elite offensive awareness. In the clip below, he dances a pair of defenders before setting

The official date of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft has yet to be determined. This year's proceedings figure to be even wackier than usual given the fact the NHL Draft Scouting Combine, along with in-person team visits and interviews were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first ten-or-so prospects appear to be spoken for but this draft has the potential to go off the rails once we get to the later stages of the lottery. Players with medical concerns would appear to be at additional risk of dropping due to the fact NHL clubs couldn't schedule visits with their own individual doctors. 

Our annual ranking of the top available prospects is below.

(Note: This is NOT a mock draft, nor does it take any team needs into account)

1) Alexis Lafreniere (LW, Rimouski-QMJHL): Lafreniere was anointed as the top 2020 draft prospect at least a couple seasons ago and has managed to hold on to that distinction throughout the draft process. In fact, he has played remarkably consistent hockey throughout his junior career. In short, he's a complete offensive player with the ability to adapt his game to whomever he is playing with. Lafreniere has pretty good size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) and he competes. He hunts down pucks, and in general, makes life miserable for opposing defenders. He is a left-handed shot who plays the left side. He's an excellent playmaker with elite offensive awareness. In the clip below, he dances a pair of defenders before setting up a teammate. 

 Lafreniere was one of the best players at the World Juniors (four goals, 10 points in five games) as an underager despite suffering what appeared to be a serious injury in Round Robin play. He sat out a few games before returning to help lead Canada to the gold medal. Here's a clip of Lafreniere ripping one home at the WJC despite having virtually no room to get the shot off. 

Over the course of the past two seasons, Lafreniere has posted 217 points in 113 games for Rimouski. He's the clear-cut top player in a draft class that is deep up top. Last year you would have been able to find a handful of people who preferred eventual No. 2 pick Kaapo Kakko (NYR) to eventual No. 1 pick Jack Hughes (NJ), but not this year. It's Lafreniere's show. He's also the only draft-eligible player I think could realistically play in the NHL next season. He certainly has nothing left to learn at the junior level and he's too young for the AHL. Lafreniere doesn't project to be a franchise-altering talent but he's a worthy No. 1 overall selection in any year and right on par with the top two selections from 2019, Hughes and Kakko. 

2) Quinton Byfield (C, Sudbury-OHL): There are more concerns surrounding Byfield's game than your typical top-two draft pick but his elite physical gifts appear to have him ticketed for the No. 2 overall slot. Let's start with the good. Byfield possesses a unique combination of size and speed. He is a true blazer and there simply aren't many men in the sport who check in at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and can move around the rink the way Byfield does. Nothing came of it in the clip below, but watch how easily Byfield picks up the puck and explodes out of his own zone. 

The clip below is an example of Byfield's offensive awareness and playmaking ability. Men his size should not possess the speed and creativity that Byfield brings to the table.

Byfield was his typical productive self for Sudbury this season (32 goals, 82 points in 45 games) but the World Juniors were a different story entirely. Byfield was in line to be a key contributor for the Canadians when the tournament began, but he struggled from the start and by the time it was over he was the club's extra forward and barely playing. It's a tournament that is notoriously difficult on underage players and that must be kept in mind but it was a not a good showing for Byfield. Every team in the NHL would gamble on Byfield's upside eight days a week, but there's definite risk here due to the fact much of his potential future success is centered around pro projection. There's easily a scenario in which Byfield develops into one of the NHL's very best players. That being said, I would be very surprised if he makes the immediate jump to the Show.

3) Tim Stutzle (LW, Manheim-DEL): Fellow German Leon Draisaitl went third-overall to the Oilers back in 2014 and there is a non-zero chance Stutzle will be selected higher than his countryman. He's one of the most unique players I have seen since I began covering the draft for RotoWire back in 2005. He played against men in the DEL (German league) this past season and was remarkably successful (seven goals, 34 points in 41 games) for such a young kid. He moves well and is very skilled with the puck. In the first clip below, Stutzle can be seen making a brilliant pass to fellow 2020 draft prospect J.J. Peterka. In the second, his excellent shot is on full display. 

Stutzle also works his tail off both defensively and in the neutral zone. He's played well for Germany on the international scene and may be just a year away from being ready for NHL action. It's possible he'll drop a pick or two because he comes from a non-traditional hockey market, but I would argue that means he should be taken even higher. He's already a remarkably complete player for an 18-year-old kid and it's scary to think how good he might become once he gets into an NHL system. Stutzle can also play center if needed. I tried to find a weakness in his game and simply couldn't. Where Stutzle plays next season remains an open question. His WHL rights are owned by Seattle but that appears to be a long shot since he has already proven he can more than hold his own in a men's league. He will undoubtedly consult with whichever NHL club selects him before deciding his next move. 

4) Cole Perfetti (LW, Saginaw-OHL): The only knock on Perfetti is his lack of breakaway speed. On the whole, I think his skating is fine but he won't be mistaken for Connor McDavid out there. I could see a scenario in which some NHL talent evaluators grade Perfetti's speed as a tick below-average. He may very well be a top-three pick if it wasn't for that concern. As is, he figures to go just about that high, anyway. It's imperative that a player makes up for his lack of speed with smarts and positioning and Perfetti can certainly do that. You can get away with a bit of a heavy stride when you can do things like this.. 

Perfetti has some of the best hands in the entire class.  I mean, watch him drop down to his knees to cradle the puck and set up a teammate in the clip below. 

Perfetti is a top-notch talent whose calling card at the NHL level should be his offensive creativity. All clubs will be looking at him as a potential top-tier, playmaking pivot.

5) Lucas Raymond (RW, Frolunda-SHL):  Raymond is one of the most gifted offensive players in this draft, but he had an inconsistent season. Simply put, there aren't many prospects around who can do things like this.

Although he's known as an offensive wizard who's deadly from the dots down with the puck on his stick, Raymond is deceptively strong.  His overall awareness in the offensive zone is exceptional. In the clip below, Raymond displays his patience and vision in setting up a teammate for a goal.

Raymond probably deserved more ice time for Frolunda than he received but that's how it often goes for younger European guys playing with men. Overall, he finished with four goals and 10 points in 33 games. Raymond also played nine games with Frolunda's U20 junior team, although he was clearly too good for that league. What Raymond does have going for him is the fact he has represented Sweden internationally on several occasions and has always played well. I have no serious concerns regarding his game. The odds of Raymond potentially sliding in the draft due to his inconsistent season would appear to be very slim.

6) Marco Rossi (C, Ottawa-OHL): I never thought I would see the day in which two of my top six NHL Draft prospects in the same year were from Germany and Austria, but here we are. Rossi is fresh off a season in which he won the OHL scoring title with 120 points in 56 games. Yes, he was playing for the OHL's best team, but Rossi's production was legitimate. In addition to being smart and skilled, Rossi plays with an edge to his game. He's not tall (5-foot-9) but he's very difficult to knock off the puck. Rossi goes to the difficult areas of the ice to make plays and I was particularly impressed with his ability to make plays off the rush. In the clip below, he gets in tight shorthanded and finishes nicely.

In this clip, Rossi knows when to give the puck up and where to go to get it back and make a play.

He's being drafted to pile up the points but his hockey IQ and general rink awareness should allow him to eventually be deployed in key defensive situations if necessary. That's a key point considering he is excellent on faceoffs. I think Rossi has the best chance of any player other than Lafreniere to play in the NHL next season. He's a high-floor/high-ceiling prospect. 

7) Alexander Holtz (RW, Djurgardens-SHL): While Raymond requires some projection, Holtz, his frequent linemate on the international scene, makes for a straight-forward evaluation. Holtz is a finisher. He has an excellent shot (arguably the best in the draft) and can score from anywhere in the offensive zone. He's a better passer than he gets credit for, although Holtz's speed is no better than average. In the clip below, Holtz goes around an opposing defender before finishing up high. 

What I like most about his game is the fact he works to get open. Plenty of guys can plant themselves in front of the net and tap in rebounds but Holtz can finish both in tight and from the top of the dots and much of that his due to his effort level. He wants the puck on his stick and he wants to make a difference. Holtz should consistently threaten 25-30 goals a season at his peak. 

8) Yaroslav Askarov (G, SKA St. Petersburg-KHL): There was talk before the season began that Askarov might be a top-five, or even a top-three draft pick. That won't be happening but that doesn't change the fact the big Russian remains an elite goaltending prospect. Askarov has been on the map for years. He had a rough World Juniors but had previously built up plenty of good will in the minds of scouts and talent evaluators and I can't imagine any NHL club will let a random two-week event impact their opinion of him. Watch Askarov's ability to recover and make a huge save in the clip below. He never gives up on a play. 

In this second clip, Askarov's athleticism is on full display as he makes a stop during a shootout. 

The four best goaltending prospects I can remember in recent memory are Askarov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ilya Samsonov and Spencer Knight. Vasilevskiy was selected No. 19 overall (2012), Samsonov was No. 22 (2015), and Knight went 13th overall to Florida a year ago. Askarov should go earlier than all of them. Whoever takes him will likely have to wait several seasons before seeing him arrive in North America and that may turn teams off but future potential top-tier goaltenders are hard to find and Askarov offers that. Perhaps the Devils -- who don't have a legitimate goaltending prospect in their system and own both their first-rounder and Arizona's from the Taylor Hall trade -- could be a fit. 

9) Jamie Drysdale (D, Erie-OHL): It's not a great year for teams in need of a rearguard but Drysdale has clearly separated himself from the rest of the pack. He's a typical new-age NHL defenseman in the sense than he relies upon skating, skill, and most importantly, smarts, as opposed to size and strength. The clip below is a perfect example of Drysdale moving and evaluating his options before making a decision regarding where to move the puck.

Drysdale played his way on to the Canadian World Junior team and ended up contributing to their gold medal effort. His skating is high end and the only knock on his game is that he's not particularly physical. I would be afraid to take him in the top five because I don't think Drysdale's upside is super high but I also have a difficult time coming up with a scenario in which he doesn't develop into a productive NHL player. A second-pairing guy who is a major asset on the PP would appear to be well within reach. There's clear value in that.

10) Anton Lundell (C, HIFK-Liiga): Lundell has been playing against men in Finland's top league for the past two seasons. In that aspect, he would appear to be closer to being NHL-ready than several of the names previously mentioned. Lundell typically filled more of a defensive role for HIFK but his offensive ability, while not elite, is legitimate. Check out the behind-the-back pass in the clip below.

Given the fact he has played in Finland's top league for a while, he's responsible in his own zone, and he's nearing NHL duty, there have been some comparisons between Lundell and the Rangers 2017 No. 7 overall selection Lias Andersson. That pick has been a total disaster for New York, but I'd argue Lundell has more natural skill than Andersson. He shouldn't be viewed as just a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect but he seems likely to make his living as a solid two-way contributor as opposed to a top-six scorer. He'd make for a fine pick at any point of the later stages of the lottery. 

11) Jack Quinn (RW, Ottawa-OHL): Few players, if any, saw their stock rise over the course of this season as much as Quinn. He was viewed by most as a fringe first rounder entering the year and now stands a great chance of being a lottery selection. Quinn scored 12 goals in 61 games a season ago. This year, he upped that total to a remarkable 52 goals (proof of several are below) in 62 games. Yes, Ottawa was the best team in the OHL, but Quinn's breakout, at least in my eyes, appears to be entirely legitimate and sustainable. His skating is no better than average and that figures to turn some teams off but Quinn's positioning is terrific, he's money around the net, and he's a hard worker. Quinn also possesses the high-end hands you would expect from a 50-goal scorer. Toss in underrated playmaking ability and it's easy to see why Quinn is going to be in such high demand on draft night.

12) Jake Sanderson (D, US NTDP-USHL): Sanderson is right up there with Quinn as one of the draft's biggest risers. It has reached the point in which he seems all but certain to be the second defenseman selected after Drysdale. The son of former Hartford Whaler/Carolina Hurricane Geoff Sanderson, Jake played well for the US NTDP against some quality competition. He's an excellent skater, diligent defensively, and he knows when to jump into the play to create additional offense for his team. Sanderson's reads all over the ice are excellent. Watch him running a PP in the clip below. He recognizes the one-timer isn't available due to the opposing forward being in the shooting lane, so he fakes the shot to create more options. It seems like a simple play, but not all defensemen recognize when it's time to make such a fake.

I don't think the gap between Sanderson and Drysdale is all that large. A Montana native, Sanderson is committed to the University of North Dakota. 

13) Rodion Amirov (LW, Salavat Ufa-KHL): Any team looking for a talented scorer should be all over Amirov in the middle stages of Round 1. He can only play on the wing, but Amirov is the complete package offensively. He finishes and sets up his teammates equally well, but he has consistency issues to work through and Amirov's all-around game needs refinement. Although he isn't known as a physical player, Amirov -- as evidenced below -- is shifty in the offensive zone and along the boards despite not being particularly strong at this point in his young career . Amirov wasn't named to Russia's World Junior team and saw limited playing time for his club team in the KHL, so NHL organizations are going to have to rely on their local scouts who saw Amirov dominate the Russian Jr. circuit this season

14) Connor Zary (C, Kamloops-WHL): Zary had a big year (38 goals, 86 points in 57 games) for Kamloops and is one of the WHL's more talented offensive players. He makes lightning-quick decisions with the puck on his stick despite possessing nothing better than average speed. I love his effort level and his willingness to go to the difficult areas of the ice to make a play. Toss in the fact Zary can kill penalties and you have a potential valuable asset on your hands. The knock on Zary, as I mentioned earlier, is his skating. He's a potential option in the later stages of the lottery if an NHL club is convinced that won't hold him back. 

15) Noel Gunler (RW, Lulea-SHL): It only takes one team to fall in love with a player but we have reached the point in which it appears to be entirely possible if not likely that Gunler will be available in the middle-to-later stages of Round 1. The Swede is one of the draft's premier offensive weapons. That's the good news. The bad news is that he has displayed some attitude problems in the past and his speed is in question. Not having an NHL Scouting Combine will hurt Gunler in the sense that he won't be able to interview with teams in person to put some of those concerns to rest. Most people -- myself included -- seem to think it was all just a case of typical teenage immaturity and Gunler will be fine moving forward. He excels in open space and has a terrific shot. In the clip below, watch him steal the puck from an opposing defender before going in and finishing. 

There's a ton to like here and Gunler has serious bargain potential in relation to where he is expected to come off the board.


16) Seth Jarvis (C, Portland-WHL) Jarvis has quickly established himself as one of the top scorers in the WHL. At the time of the stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic (thus the end of the season), Jarvis was second in league scoring with 98 points (42 goals) in 58 games. This is a kid who managed a whopping 16 goals and 39 points in 61 games a season ago. Jarvis' will isn't in question but the concerns are that he's small and slight. He's listed at 5-foot-10 and about 170 pounds and I'd be willing to wager he's probably a tad smaller than that. I've never seen a clip in which Jarvis allowed his lack of size to impact the way he plays the game and that's obviously a good thing but I think he's possible he struggles with the physicality of the professional ranks. If he can get past that, Jarvis should be just fine because the speed/skill combination here is well above average.  

17) Dylan Holloway (C, University of Wisconsin-NCAA): Holloway's production in his first season at Wisconsin (eight goals, 17 points in 35 games) was somewhat limited but he played a key role on that team as a true freshman and there aren't many kids who can do that in their draft year. Holloway almost certainly would have been a point-per-game guy had he been playing major junior. His calling card is his speed. Holloway doesn't possess elite offensive traits but his foot speed allows him to generate scoring chances for both himself and his linemates. See the clip below in which he gets the puck, accelerates, and cuts around the opposing defender for a good scoring chance. 

Holloway can also play both center and wing. I like him better at center and think he should be more effective in the middle once he gets a bit stronger. There isn't much flash here but Holloway's foot speed and work ethic should allow him to develop into at least a solid two-way depth player as a pro.

18) Dawson Mercer (RW, Chicoutimi-QMJHL): Mercer's bio is nearly identical to Zary's. The difference between the two isn't much but I'm a tad more concerned with Mercer's skating stride and I think he has just a tad less offensive ability than Zary. It's a shame because he does everything else well and could potentially be a top-ten selection otherwise. Mercer battles hard and knows where to be on the ice. I would say he possess solid-to-average offensive ability and I really have no concerns about his ability to produce at the NHL level if he's able to improve his skating a bit. I would be willing to roll the dice in the middle of Round 1, but if Mercer goes in the lottery, I would pass. That being said, Mercer's work ethic isn't in question so if it's possible for him to improve in any way, he will. 

19) Brendan Brisson (C, Chicago-USHL): Yes, Brisson is the son of NHL agent Pat Brisson, who represents, among others: Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, John Tavares and Claude Giroux. The younger Brisson is far from a finished product but the future potential is clearly there. Brisson works hard for his offense and also has the skill to make creative individual plays. I like his effort level and love his production with the man advantage but there are size/speed concerns with Brisson. He's on the smaller side (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) and I would term his skating as no better than average. He's been one of the draft's biggest risers over the course of the past several months and it has reached the point in which Brisson appears to be a lock to be selected in Round 1 despite those potential concerns. He is committed to the University of Michigan. 

20) Hendrix Lapierre (C, Chicoutimi-QMJHL): Lapierre's entire draft stock will come down to his medicals and that's a bigger issue than usual this year since team's can't meet with players in person due to the pandemic. The biggest issue of all is that Lapierre has been plagued by arguably the worst injury of all, concussions. He suffered at least three concussions in a ten-month span, with the final one coming this past November. November was also the last time he played a game (although Lapierre did practice with his team late in the year). On the ice, Lapierre has the look of a two-way horse who can be deployed in all situations. I like his work ethic and I like his ability to play up and down a lineup. I think he has a chance to be an excellent middle-six center, health permitting. Lapierre is the draft's ultimate risk/reward selection. He's not an elite offensive talent, however, and I could easily see NHL teams decide he's simply not worth the risk.  One more concussion could conceivably be the end of his career and it's difficult for NHL clubs to make such a wager with their first-round selection.

21) Thomas Bordeleau (C, US NTDP-USHL): Let me begin by saying I'm aware I'm likely higher on Bordeleau than anyone else. As far as I can tell, the only real weakness I see in his game is a lack of size, and thus, a lack of physicality. Bordeleau is listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, but he's difficult to knock off the puck. He's also one of the draft's most gifted playmakers. He possesses the ability to make difficult passes appear shockingly simple. I'm actually surprised Bordeleau isn't getting talked about more. You watch him play and he's all over the place, constantly making positive contributions. Add in the fact he's excellent on faceoffs and an extremely hard worker and you have a clear cut first-rounder in my opinion. Assuming his game continues to progress, I see no reason he won't be able to impact a game at the NHL level. He's a couple years away but the skill set is clearly there. Bordeleau is off to the University of Michigan next season. 

22) John-Jason Peterka (RW, Munich-DEL): It's a good draft for German hockey. Stutzle is a lock to be a top selection and Peterka also figures to sneak into the later stages of Round 1. While Stutzle possesses high-end skill, the majority of the offense Peterka generates is the result of hard work. I do think he has a bit more natural ability than he gets credit for but I feel one of Peterka's biggest assets is how well his skill set fits alongside more talented offensive players (that's him burying the feed from Stutzle in the above clip). He is willing to do the dirty work in order to make a play happen and those kind of guys are invaluable for a hockey club. Peterka saw limited playing time in the DEL this season and without an NHL Scouting Combine, the German is another in a long list of players for which NHL clubs will need to rely on their regional scouts to get a read on his future pro potential.

23) Mavrik Bourque (C, Shawinigan-QMJHL): Bourque was one of the QMJHL's better offensive players (29 goals, 71 points in 49 games) this past season but I think he's better suited as a complementary scoring option as a pro. He can play literally anywhere in a lineup, and best of all, he doesn't need the puck in order to be effective. Offensively, Bourque's greatest strength is his vision. He's an extremely creative player and his positioning is terrific. Bourque isn't big (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) and I would term his foot speed as just average, but he can finish the opportunities presented to him in addition to setting up his teammates while creating havoc all over the ice. There's value in a high-floor asset at this stage of the draft and Bourque falls into that category.

24) Jan Mysak (LW, Hamilton-OHL): Not happy with his situation in his native Czech Republic, Mysak left his club team in Litvinov following the World Juniors -- where he didn't do a ton -- to join Hamilton. It was a wise decision and one that figures to improve Mysak's stock on draft day. He finished with 15 goals and 25 points in 22 games for the Bulldogs. Mysak doesn't generate consistent individual offense, but then he goes out and does something like this.. 

Like many scouts, I'm in the fence as to whether Mysak is a legitimate future top-six option or more of a solid two-way depth guy. I lean towards the latter. He's clearly skilled but there are plenty of games in which he doesn't seem to accomplish a whole lot. Mysak's neither big (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) nor physical, but his compete level is generally fine. An NHL club's evaluation on Mysak's offense skill set could be the difference between him being a late first-rounder as opposed to a mid second-rounder. 

25) Zion Nybeck (RW, HV71 Jr.-Sweden): Good luck finding a pair of scouts that share a similar opinion on Nybeck. He saw 15 games worth of action with HV71 this past season (one goal) and spent the rest of the year with their junior club, where he dominated to the tune of 66 points in 42 games. Nybeck's evaluation requires a ton of future projection. He is known for his pure skill level -- it's some of the best in the draft -- but he can also blow a slapshot by an opposing goaltender (proof below) in the blink of an eye. That skill level allowed him to dominate at the junior level but it remains to be seen if his greatest strengths -- vision, skating, pace -- will translate down the road. Nybeck's detractors see a player who lacks both physicality and breakaway speed. Still, Nybeck makes for a worthwhile risk this late. I always advocate drafting for upside -- especially this late in Round 1 -- and Nybeck fits that bill. 

26) Braden Schneider (D, Brandon-WHL): You will likely find Schneider higher elsewhere and I expect him to go higher than this on draft day. I just don't see the long-term upside some others do. He's been a productive offensive player in his junior career (seven goals, 42 points in 60 games this past season) for Brandon but projects as more of a steady, stay-at-home rearguard as a pro. Schneider is your typical WHL defensemen in many ways in the sense that he has good size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), plays physically and moves fairly well. In baseball terminology, there's a lot of 55's (grades) here but no clear plus tool. 

27) Kaiden Guhle (D, Prince Albert-WHL):  I like Guhle and think there's a definite scenario in which he ends up being a better pro player than junior player. His calling card is his skating. Guhle really moves well for a kid who checks in at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds. He plays physically, battles hard in his own end, and he has the upper-body strength to disrupt opposing cycles. Offensively, Guhle tends to keep it fairly simple and that's the biggest knock against him. I don't think he'll ever put up a ton of points at the NHL level but he has enough ability to make a play here and there. This is not a deep draft for rearguards and Guhle is one of the better available options. 

28) Emil Andrae (D, HV71-SHL): Much like his teammate Nybeck, Andrae split the season between HV71 and their junior club. The team that drafts Andrae is hoping they have just selected their future power-play quarterback. There's a ton of potential in that area but Andrae has his flaws. He tries to do too much offensively at times and his play away from the puck needs considerable improvement. Andrae is not big (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) and not physical so his offensive ability will have to carry him to the NHL. Andrae has a bunch of potential if he rounds out his defensive game a bit and adds a boatload of muscle to his very lean frame. I wouldn't bet against him.

29) William Wallinder (D, MODO Jr-Sweden): Wallinder possesses all the attributes NHL teams are looking for in their defensemen. He's big (6-foot-4, 195 pounds), can really skate, and he has at least average puck skills. Watch the stretch pass below to fellow future 2020 draftee Theodor Niederbach

I'd like to see him display a bit more confidence in himself and be a bit more assertive. Wallinder keeps it painfully simple at times and I think he's capable of much more than that. If some NHL club can get Wallinder to come out of his shell a bit they could potentially have a top-three defender on their hands. 

30) Ty Smilanic (LW, US NTDP-USHL): Smilanic is shaping up as a potential value pick given the fact he was both banged up and ill this past season. Offensively, Smilanic has it all. His speed and skill level are both well above average. He also has good size at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds. He needs to add some weight to his frame but that should come over time. The injuries aside, Smilanic appears to be well equipped to make an immediate impact when he heads to Quinnipiac this fall. He's one of my favorite under-the-radar picks of the entire draft in relation to where he is expected to come off the board. 

31) Jake Neighbours (LW, Edmonton-WHL): A team leader who competes on both sides of the puck, Neighbours has been hailed by some as a potential captain down the road. You get the same exact effort from him every single night. Neighbours battles hard for pucks, has always displayed terrific hockey sense, and he took on more of an offensive role (23 goals, 70 points in 64 games) for a good Edmonton team this season. Neighbours may ultimately slip to the second round but I'd be willing to grab him earlier than that. The floor here is high.


32) Jacob Perreault (RW, Sarnia-OHL): Perreault is a fringe lottery pick based on talent alone. He has excellent hands and a terrific shot. Consistency remains an issue, as does a lack of foot speed. I see Perreault as a boom or bust prospect.

33)  Jeremie Poirier (D, Saint John-QMJHL): Poirier has gotten a lot love of late so I think there's a decent chance he slides into the later stages of Round 1. He's an elite offensive defenseman who struggles to defend in his own zone. Poirier is a potential power-play quarterback who may need to play sheltered minutes at even strength.

34) Lukas Reichel (RW, Eisbaren-DEL): Reichel could potentially join Stutzle and Peterka as the third first-rounder for Germany. He improved throughout the course of the season while playing against men and I'd argue his ceiling is higher than Peterka's. There is a nice mix of skill and smarts here. 

35) Roni Hirvonen (C, Assat-Liiga): Hirvonen's potential comes down to how much teams believe -- or don't believe -- in his skating ability. He's extremely creative and a major asset with the man advantage but he doesn't move all that well for a kid listed at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds.

36) Marat Khusnutdinov (C, SKA-MHL): Khusnutdinov's work ethic is strong and his skill level is better than average. I'd feel comfortable investing an early second-rounder here if Khusnutdinov has made it known he plans to eventually make the jump to North America. 

37) Vasily Ponomarev (C, Shawinigan-QMJHL): Ponomarev has far more talent than his numbers this past season (18 goals, 49 points in 57 games) would lead you to believe. There's legitimate high-end potential here so Ponomarev could make for a potential steal on draft day. The risk/reward factor with Ponomarev is very high.

38) Ozzy Wiesblatt (RW, Prince Albert-WHL): Wiseblatt won't overwhelm talent evaluators in any one area but he can make offensive plays and his work ethic is strong. I'm a little worried about the lack of size (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) but Wiesblatt would make for a versatile addition to any organization.

39) Justin Barron (D, Halifax-QMJHL): Barron missed almost the entire season due to a blood clot. It was unfortunate timing and will almost certainly impact his draft stock. He has been on the map as a potential top prospect for multiple years. Barron doesn't have many dynamic qualities but I feel comfortable pegging him as a long-time NHL regular if his medicals check out.

40) Topi Niemela (D, Karpat-Liiga): Niemela should provide his future NHL organization with plenty years of solid, unheralded service. He makes a good first pass and skates well enough to carry the mail out of his own end. 

41) Kasper Simontaival (RW, Taapara Jr-Finland): The main knock on Simontaival is that we have yet to see him play against men in his native Finland. He ripped about their junior league (25 goals, 57 points in 48 games) and should get a chance in Liiga next season. His creativity is excellent despite just average speed. 

42) Helge Grans (D, Malmo-SHL): Grans is a rare breed. A defenseman expected to be selected in the second round with legitimate top-four potential. I'd like to see him play with a bit more pace but he's massive (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and has at least average offensive abilities. 

43) Ridly Greig (C, Brandon-WHL): Greig's tireless work ethic and impressive skill level combined with the fact he's a late birthday put him in the early Round 2 conversation. I have him a tad lower than that because the skating worries me but he had a nice season for Brandon (26 goals, 60 points in 56 games) and I could easily see a scenario in which he outperforms his draft slot.

44) Danil Gushchin (RW, Muskegon-USHL): An argument could be made that any time you take a player with Guschin's speed, it's not a bad pick. He's talented offensively, too. The concern is that Guschin currently checks in at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds. He has the skill set to develop into at least a serviceable role player as a pro.

45) Jean-Luc Foudy (C, Windsor-OHL): Foudy didn't have a good season (15 goals, 43 points in 59 games) for the Spitfires but I remain a strong long-term believer. His skating is exceptional and his ability to make plays at high speed is impressive. Foudy's ceiling is among the highest of all the players expected to be picked outside Round 1. 

46) Lukas Cormier (D, Charlottetown-QMJHL): Cormier is a modern day NHL rearguard. He gets it done with skating and smarts. His play in his own zone is also underrated. There's a reasonably high two-way ceiling here.

47) Sean Farrell (LW, Chicago-USHL): Farrell's an excellent passer and does a nice job of weaving around the offensive zone despite standing just 5-foot-8. His calling card is his offense and he gets the most out of his abilities. I could see Farrell making an immediate impact at Harvard this fall.

48) Tyson Foerster (RW, Barrie-OHL): Foerster would be in the first round conversation if it wasn't for his heavy feet. He really labors getting around the rink at times and that limits his ceiling. There's enough here -- particularly with Foerster's ability to shoot the puck -- to warrant a high pick but it would be a risky one. 

49) Martin Chromiak (LW, Kingston-OHL): Chromiak has been universally praised for his decision to leave his native Slovakia early in the season and for his work in developing into an excellent OHL player. There's a ton to like here from an offensive standpoint, with the main knock on Chormiak being the fact he doesn't take the puck to the net frequently enough.

50) Will Cuylle (LW, Windsor-OHL): Cuylle is another in a long list of Windsor players who had a lousy season. The attraction with Cuylle is his massive (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) frame. He has good hands for a big kid and does a nice job of clearing out space in front of the net. There's some buy-low potential here

51) Justin Sourdif (C, Vancouver-WHL): I'm a little worried Sourdif is going to max out as a very good junior player but I'm intrigued by the overall package. There's a nice mix of skill and work ethic here. Sourdif was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, so he's been on the map as a potential early-round pick for a while.

52) Sam Colangelo (RW, Chicago-USHL): Colangelo (28 goals, 58 points in 44 games) finished tied for third in USHL scoring this past season. He's big (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and talented, although inconsistent. Colangelo isn't a lazy player but he fades into the background a bit more than I would like for a player his size.

53) Luke Evangelista (RW, London-OHL): Evangelista is one of my favorite sleepers. A jack-of-all-trades player who can be deployed up and down a lineup, Evangelista looks like a solid future third-liner, penalty-killing type who can chip in double-digit goals down the road. 

54) Joel Blomqvist (G, Karpat Jr-Finland): There were a couple other candidates but I have come to think Blomqvist is the second-best goaltender in this draft behind Askarov. His technical skills and athleticism are both excellent. It's going to take some time but I firmly believe there is NHL-starter potential here.

55) Connor McClennon (RW, Winnipeg-WHL): There's a lot to like about McClennon's skating and skill level but he's inconsistent, and listed at 5-foot-8 and about 165 pounds. He's a talented player but I'm worried he will struggle against bigger, stronger defenders as a pro.

56) William Villeneuve (D, Saint John-QMJHL): Villeneuve led all QMJHL defenders in both assists (49) and points (58) this past season. He's an offensive rearguard who is surprisingly competent in his own zone for a kid who lacks much upper-body strength. He is being drafted to pile up points.

57) Theodor Niederbach (C, Frolunda Jr-Sweden): Niederbach is a minor medical concern due to the fact he missed all of the 2018-19 campaign with a knee issue. He's known for his creativity with the puck as opposed to his speed. Niederbach has represented Sweden in multiple international tournaments. 

58) Mitch Miller (D, Tri-City-USHL): Miller is another personal favorite of mine. His greatest attributes are his skating and athleticism and that's what I look for in a defenseman. Miller's not overly physical so he will have to make it due to his feet and brain.

59) Carter Savoie (LW, Sherwood Park-AJHL): NHL teams should always draft for ceiling instead of floor and that's what makes Savoie so attractive. I'm all-in on his puck skills but Savoie's interest in defensive play is poor and his effort level is often in question. The fact I have him ranked this high is a testament to his natural abilities. Savoie isn't an NHL player as currently constructed but there's too much talent here to ignore.

60) Ryan O'Rourke (D, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL): O'Rourke is a perfectly reasonable prospect if expectations are kept in check. He plays a simple game offensively but his defensive work is outstanding. His positioning is strong and his decisions with the puck are smart. I think he develops into a useful third-pairing/penalty-killing type. 

61) Drew Commesso (G, US NTDP-USHL): Commesso isn't Spencer Knight but he is unquestionably the best American goaltender in this draft. He looks like a solid all-around prospect with promising (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) size. Commesso is committed to Boston University. 

62) Yan Kuznetsov (D, University of Connecticut-NCAA): I struggled with Kuznetsov's ranking. I'm not convinced there's a bunch of upside here but the Russian played the entire season at UConn as a 17-year-old and wasn't overwhelmed by the process. That alone is a major positive. Kuznetsov projects as more of a depth piece with excellent (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) size. 

63) Dylan Peterson (C, US NTDP-USHL): Peterson did a lot of the dirty work for his linemates with the US NTDP this past season. He does an excellent job of carving out space with his big (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) frame and has a decent set of hands in tight. I'm mildly worried about his decision making with the puck but the Boston University commit is an intriguing prospect. 

64) Roby Jarventie (LW, Koovee-Finland): I'd have Jarventie at least a dozen spots higher if his skating was just a tad better. That being said, he's surprisingly active in the offensive zone for a player who doesn't move all that well. Jarventie's father, Martti, played one game with Montreal back in 2001-02 and was a long-time standout defenseman in his native Finland. 

65) Alexander Pashin (LW, Toplar Ufa-MHL): Pashin has more talent than most of the players who are expected to be selected in this area. His skating is excellent and his puck skills are fantastic. The main drawback is the fact Pashin is listed at 5-foot-8, 155 pounds. I'd comfortably take the risk if I was a team with multiple picks in the later stages of Round 2 or early portion of Round 3. 

66) Brett Berard (LW, US NTDP-USHL): I admittedly have no idea where in the draft Berard is going to go. I like his game -- creativity, effort level -- more than most but Berard is listed at 5-foot-9, 155 pounds and very few players that size make it in the NHL. He plays hard enough to make it as an energy player but he'd be a constant injury risk given his slight frame. 

67) Antonio Stranges (LW, London-OHL): Stranges was bandied about as a potential mid-to-high first-rounder a couple seasons ago but it simply hasn't happened for him. He has all the skill in the world but the fact he hasn't developed with the best program in junior hockey is highly concerning. I'd take a shot on Stranges with the expectation it's more likely than not this would be a wasted pick.

68) Shakir Mukhamadullin (D, Toplar Ufa-KHL): Mukhamadullin spent most of this past season in the KHL (27 games) but played sheltered minutes. His ceiling appears to be somewhat limited but the fact he wasn't totally overwhelmed in his KHL cameo is a positive. His size (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) is also intriguing. Mukhamadullin looks like your typical draft-and-stash prospect.

69) Brandon Coe (RW, North Bay-OHL): Long on talent and short on production, Coe was largely ineffective (57 points in 60 games) for what was by far the OHL's worst team. His effort level was inconsistent and it's up to scouts to figure out if this is a long-term issue or the result of Coe being in a bad situation. He has the natural ability to potentially flourish in a new setting.

70) Jaromir Pytlik (C, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL): I'm partial to Pytlik's size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and strong two-way game. His offensive game hasn't developed as much as I had hoped for but I like his chances of making it in a depth role. 

71) Ryan Francis (RW, Cape Breton-QMJHL): Francis is another in a long line of talented, undersized (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) players in this draft. I have him this low because I think he would be out of place in a depth role and that would limit the odds of him making an impact as a pro. 

72) Donovan Sebrango (D, Kitchener-OHL): Scouts got plenty of looks at Sebrango this past year as he logged a ton of minutes for Kitchener. He appears to have solid-to-average skills across the board and no real weaknesses. There's third-pairing potential here. 

73) Michael Benning (D, Sherwood Park-AJHL): Benning is an offensive-minded rearguard with the potential to develop into a future power-play quarterback at the NHL level. He's never going to be asked to log heavy defensive minutes but his reads in his own zone need improving. That's no easy task because he's undersized (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) and doesn't play physically. We've seen players like Benning make it in the NHL recently so he shouldn't be discounted. 

74) Anton Johannesson (D, HV71 Jr-Sweden): At 145 pounds, Johannesson is almost certainly the smallest player on this list. His mobility and offensive arsenal are intriguing but there are understandable concerns regarding how he will hold up defensively against bigger opposing forwards. Johannesson is a long-term play. 

75) Luke Tuch (LW, US NTDP-USHL): Tuch looks like a real player on his best days but I think he's better suited for a third-line/energy role. He has the size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) to make a real impact but he's inconsistent and doesn't skate well. It could take a while for Tuch to make an impact at Boston University.  

- Brock Faber (D, US NTDP-USHL)
- Blake Biondi (C, Hermantown-US High)
- Joni Jurmo (D, Jokerit Jr-Finland)
- Tyler Tullio (C, Oshawa-OHL) 
- Nico Daws (G, Guelph-OHL)

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Jon Litterine
Jon Litterine is RotoWire's lead MMA Writer and MMA Editor. He has covered numerous MMA events live. He's also RW's NHL Prospect Analyst. Jon has been writing for RotoWire since 2005. He is a graduate of U Mass-Lowell.
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