The first round of the 2020 Entry Draft is in the books, and it was an exciting night as 31 players now know where they have landed.
This was arguably the most unique entry draft in NHL history, as it was held virtually on Tuesday night due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The New York Rangers held the first overall pick, followed by the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators.
Here is the full first round recap and analysis of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft in order from first overall to thirty-first overall:
1. New York Rangers – Alexis Lafreniere (QMJHL)
With the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, GM Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers confirmed what everyone has been speculating since the draft lottery in August: Alexis Lafreniere is heading to the Big Apple.
The highly-touted prospect has been projected to go first overall in 2020 for a few years now. The Rimouski Oceanic winger lit up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) this past season, scoring 35 goals and 77 assists for a whopping 112 points in only 52 games. He also was the MVP of the 2020 World Juniors in Czech Republic this past January, and helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal in the tournament.
Imagine Lafreniere, Kakko, and Panarin on the same line. How deadly would that be for opposing teams? Now, you may be able to witness it.
2. Los Angeles Kings – Quinton Byfield (OHL)
Quinton Byfield made history on Tuesday night, becoming the highest drafted African-American player in NHL history.
The Los Angeles Kings selected the power centreman second overall. Byfield, the 18-year-old from the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Sudbury Wolves, recorded 32 goals and 82 points in 45 regular season games, his final year in the OHL. He was also on the gold-medal-winning Team Canada World Junior team, playing alongside Lafreniere.
Have the Kings found a long-term replacement at centre for the aging Anze Kopitar? It seems like it. This kid will be a stud in Southern California.
3. Ottawa Senators – Tim Stuetzle (DEL)
The Ottawa Senators picked third-overall, a pick they acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade. This was a great pick for the rebuilding Senators.
Stuetzle, 18, is coming off a great year in the top professional hockey league in Germany. He had 7 goals and 34 points in 41 games in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), playing for Mannheim. His 0.83 points per game are the best by a player 18 or younger in the history of the DEL.
Stuetzle will add speed and a ton of finesse to a Senators team in a deep rebuild. At third-overall, he matches Leon Draisaitl as the highest drafted German player in the NHL. Will he match Draisaitl’s skillset though? He definitely has the potential.
4. Detroit Red Wings – Lucas Raymond (SHL)
After one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Detroit Red Wings need a game changing player. They got absolutely robbed in the draft lottery, falling to 4th overall after having the best odds to draft Lafreniere at number 1.
That being said, Lucas Raymond is nothing to shake your head at. He has the potential to be a star in this league, and is coming off a season in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) where he scored 10 points in 33 games for Frolunda.
The Red Wings need to have a big offseason to have any chance of being competitive in the Eastern Conference again. Drafting Lucas Raymond is a great start.
5. Ottawa Senators – Jake Sanderson (USA U18 NTDP)
Averaging 0.62 points per game in the USA Under-18 National Team Development Program (NTDP), defenceman Jake Sanderson is a steal for the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators already knew they were going to get two great young prospects at third and fifth overall, and Jake Sanderson has the potential to be a top pairing D-man with Thomas Chabot or Erik Brannstrom. As NTDP captain, he scored 29 points and was a +23 in 47 games this season.
Sanderson has already committed to the University of North Dakota this upcoming season, but look for him to make his way into the NHL in the very near future.
6. Anaheim Ducks – Jamie Drysdale (OHL)
A 2019-20 OHL First-Team All-Star is headed to Southern California. 18-year-old Jamie Drysdale from the OHL’s Erie Otters recorded nearly a point per game this season and for a defenceman, that is considered a very successful season.
Tallying 9 goals and 47 points in 49 games with the Otters, including 23 points on the power play, Drysdale is an offensive, puck-moving defenceman who will inject a lot of life into the depleted blue line of the Anaheim Ducks.
Will Drysdale be a franchise player for the Ducks? It’s possible. He has the potential to be a Victor Hedman or Brent Burns if the Ducks can develop him properly.
7. New Jersey Devils – Alexander Holtz (SHL)
A dynamic winger from the SHL in Sweden, Alexander Holtz can slot in right next to Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier in New Jersey. And this franchise desperately needs a pick-me-up.
Holtz led all under-18 skaters in the SHL this season, scoring 16 points in 35 games across the pond. With Hughes and Hischier both shooting left, adding an offensive right-winger to the lineup could be pivotal for the Devils’ future success.
If Holtz can find his groove, this Devils team could be scary in the future with a ton of young offensive talent entering their primes.
8. Buffalo Sabres – Jack Quinn (OHL)
The Sabres are another organization that needs as much help as they can get. Captain Jack Eichel is getting frustrated (and rightfully so), and the Sabres need to act now. Picking winger Jack Quinn 8th overall is a good start.
Speaking of 8th, Quinn finished 8th in scoring in the OHL this season with the Ottawa 67s, with 52 goals and 89 points in 62 games. A proven goal scorer in junior, he could be a dangerous weapon for the Sabres alongside Eichel.
On a team that has failed to qualify for playoffs the past ten seasons, Quinn will add dynamics and skill to the Sabres, but a lot more needs to be done is this team plans on snapping that dreadful streak next season.
9. Minnesota Wild – Marco Rossi (OHL)
Two Ottawa 67s players go back-to-back in the draft, with Marco Rossi directly following teammate Jack Quinn by going 9th overall to the Wild. And you should be excited about this pick, Wild fans.
Rossi led the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) in points this season, scoring more points than first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, with 39 goals and 81 assists for 120 points in 56 games. Averaging 2.14 points per game, he was second in the CHL in that category just a hair behind Lafreniere (2.15).
A power forward, this is a great pick for a Wild team who seems to trending downward in past seasons. It will be up to GM Bill Guerin to get this team back on the right track. Look for Rossi to make an immediate impact on the Wild this season.
10. Winnipeg Jets – Cole Perfetti (OHL)
Despite dropping down to 10th overall when most analysts had him in the top 7, this is still a great choice for the Winnipeg Jets.
Perfetti finished second in the OHL in scoring behind Marco Rossi, recording 37 goals and 111 points games, including 26 points in his final 12 games. He also led all players in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with 12 points in 5 games for Team Canada.
On a Jets team that already has the likes of Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Nik Ehlers, Kyle Connor, and Blake Wheeler, Perfetti will fit in nicely and be another offensive weapon for head coach Paul Maurice to deploy.
11. Nashville Predators – Yaroslav Askarov (KHL)
Great pickup for the Nashville Predators, plain and simple. This young man is going to be a franchise netminder for the Predators, you can bet on that.
Yaroslav Askarov becomes the third Russian-born goalie in NHL history to be drafted in the first round, and the highest a goalie from Russia has ever gone. Recording a 2.45 GAA and .920 SV% through 18 games in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), this 18-year-old goalie possesses incredible athleticism and a great hockey mindset. With the future of Pekka Rinne up in the air for the Predators, Askarov has a great opportunity to develop into a future franchise goalie in Tennessee.
Be excited about this kid, Preds fans. He has the extreme potential to be the next Andrei Vasilevskiy or Vladislav Tretiak.
12. Florida Panthers – Anton Lundell (FEL)
The Panthers add a centreman from Finland to give them a 1-2 Finnish punch at centre alongside Aleksander Barkov.
An alternate captain for HIFK of the Finnish Elite League (FEL), Lundell recorded 28 points and 162 shots in 44 games last season playing in Finland’s top professional hockey league. The 19-year-old is a fantastic two-way forward with great hockey sense, and he is strong on the puck making him extremely tough to contain for opposing defensemen.
The Panthers may choose to monitor Lundell’s development in Finland for a couple more years, but nonetheless, Lundell provides great stability up the middle for this Southern Florida squad.
13. Carolina Hurricanes – Seth Jarvis (WHL)
The first player from the west half of North America to be picked was a smart, skilled centreman in Seth Jarvis from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The Hurricanes snatched him up at 13th overall, and this was a great selection for Carolina.
Jarvis provides excellent special teams help on a Hurricanes team that was good, but wasn’t spectacular on special teams this year. Jarvis was known in the WHL for crashing the net in the offensive zone and it seemed to pay off for him, as he finished second in scoring in the WHL tallying 42 goals and 98 points in 58 games with Portland. What really helps this young forward stand out is his +53 rating, showing just how great he is at even strength.
Add this kid to a Hurricanes roster that already boasts the young talent of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Warren Foegele, and this Hurricanes team gets deeper and deeper at forward.
14. Edmonton Oilers – Dylan Holloway (NCAA)
Interesting selection for the Edmonton Oilers. The northern Alberta squad went the college route, choosing top-ranked NCAA player Dylan Holloway from the University of Wisconsin 14th overall.
Holloway is a centreman who can play all three forward positions and adds power play help. He should fit in well with an Oilers offensive group led by superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The 19-year-old out of Wisconsin scored 17 points in 35 points in his freshman year this season, and adds an elite skillset to a high-powered Oilers offense.
However, the Edmonton Oilers need defence, and GM Ken Holland failed to address their most pressing need with the team’s first round pick. Unless Holland has something up his sleeve with free agency coming up, the Oilers will not go any further as a team without a solid defensive group.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs – Rodion Amirov (KHL)
Another GM that failed to address his team’s most pressing need at defence, Kyle Dubas selected Rodion Amirov 15th overall, a 19-year-old winger from Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL. They received the 15th overall selection from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the August trade that sent Kasperi Kapanen to Pennsylvania.
Amirov will add skill and a great playmaking ability to an already stacked Maple Leafs offence. Playing in Russia’s junior league, he scored 22 points in 17 games with Tolpar Ufa before being promoted to Ufa’s KHL team where he had 2 assists in 21 games.
Dubas still has a lot of work to do, as he needs to add depth on defence and between the pipes. For a team that is already cap-strapped, that probably won’t happen without moving some core players.
16. Montreal Canadiens – Kaiden Guhle (WHL)
The Montreal Canadiens add a puck-moving, hard-shooting defenceman in Kaiden Guhle with the 16th overall pick.
Guhle, who played last season with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, scored 11 goals and 40 points in 64 games, 16 of which came on the power play. He has proven to be effective in all areas of the ice and can play with the extra man and short handed. The 6 foot 3, 190 pound 18-year-old also adds toughness and size to the Canadiens’ back end.
Don’t expect Guhle to be added to the Canadiens’ active roster immediately, as the Habs will likely let him develop in junior. However, this kid will be a top-4 defenceman for Montreal in the very near future.
17. Chicago Blackhawks – Lukas Reichel (DEL)
The second player to come out of Germany’s professional hockey league, winger Lukas Reichel goes 17th overall to the Windy City.
Reichel scored 24 points in 42 games for Eisbaren Berlin this past season, and averaged 12:58 of ice time per game while also recording a team-high five game winning goals. Reichel will add speed to a Blackhawks team that is slowly aging, but this kid will be a nasty and dangerous pairing with 2019-20 NHL Calder Trophy candidate Dominik Kubalik.
After Chicago selected Kirby Dach third overall last season, Reichel will join an impressive group of Blackhawks prospects who may be able to kickstart another dynasty for the franchise in years to come.
18. New Jersey Devils – Dawson Mercer (QMJHL)
Acquiring the 18th overall pick from Arizona in the Taylor Hall trade, the New Jersey Devils selected right-handed forward Dawson Mercer from the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL.
Mercer is a very reliable, skilled centreman who will provide extra depth down the middle in New Jersey along with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. He scored 60 points in 42 games in 2019-20, and will come into a Devils organization who looks to be slowly improving after a few lowly seasons.
He will provide extra faceoff help for the Devils and can also contribute as a solid special teams player. Look for Mercer to reach the NHL in the next couple of season after his junior years are over.
19. New York Rangers – Braden Schneider (WHL)
In a last minute trade, the New York Rangers received the 19th overall pick from the Calgary Flames in exchange for the number 22 and number 72 pick. The Rangers used this to select a two-way defenceman in Braden Schneider of the WHL.
Schneider, from the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, scores 42 points in 60 games this season, 20 of those points coming on the man advantage. He also finished +9, which for a defenceman is nothing to feel bad about. The 6’2”, 202 pound blueliner will add toughness to the Rangers’ back end, as he is known in the WHL for throwing his weight around and finishing his checks.
Solid choice from the Rangers, for sure. Jeff Gorton gets an A+ with his selections in the first round.
20. New Jersey Devils – Shakir Mukhamadullin (KHL)
With their third pick of the first round, the New Jersey Devils use the 20th overall pick acquired from Vancouver via Tampa Bay, to select a strong Russian defenceman who plays as hard as his name is to pronounce.
Mukhamadullin will provide some much needed size to the Devils defence corps, coming in at 6’4” and 188 pounds. He has 6 points in 14 games with Ufa of the KHL so far this season, and has a shoot-first mentality.
This kid will not be a full-time member of the Devils right away, as he is signed in the KHL for at least a couple more seasons, but he definitely adds to an intriguing Devils prospect pool this season.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets – Yegor Chinakhov (KHL)
This 19-year-old winger was not selected in last year’s draft, but has since poured it on and stepped up his game in order to be selected 21st overall by the Blue Jackets.
In 56 games in Russia’s junior league last season, Chinakhov scored 27 goals and added 42 assists for 69 points, finishing fifth overall in points and second in assists. In 12 games so far with Omsk 2 of the KHL, he has scored five goals and added two assists for 7 points.
The Blue Jackets made a trade earlier on Tuesday with the Montreal Canadiens to acquire Max Domi who will undoubtedly add some more offensive skill to the Jackets, and GM Jarmo Kekalainen stuck to his wishes to develop more dynamic offensive players. If Chinakhov ever reaches the NHL, he may be able to be another offensive tool in John Tortorella’s shed.
22. Washington Capitals – Hendrix Lapierre (QMJHL)
The Calgary Flames were once again involved in a last minute trade, moving further down in the first round, as they traded their 22nd overall pick to the Washington Capitals for the 24th and 80th picks. The Capitals used this pick to select 18-year-old Hendrix Lapierre from the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL.
If it wasn’t for a head and neck injury sustained last season that limited him to only 19 games, Lapierre may have been selected a lot higher in the first round. A gifted offensive talent, Lapierre scored 17 points in those 19 games with Chicoutimi in 2019-20, and scored 11 points in five games of the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup to help Canada finish with a silver medal.
Lapierre has five points in his first two games of the QMJHL season so far, and will be a difference maker in the Capitals lineup when he makes it into the NHL. He is an outstanding playmaker, and if you pair this young man up with Alexander Ovechkin, you could be in trouble as a member of the opposing team.
23. Philadelphia Flyers – Tyson Foerster (OHL)
It’s safe to say that the Philadelphia Flyers exceeded expectations this past season, losing out to the New York Islanders in the second round of playoffs. Since then, the Flyers have shown interest in adding a big-time goal scorer to their lineup, and they will get just that with the addition of Tyson Foerster.
The 18-year-old Foerster finished with 80 points in 62 games with the OHL’s Barrie Colts last season, and has developed a reputation for making big plays, especially while in traffic in front of the net. At the NHL Top Prospects Game in January, he scored three points and was named Player of the Game for Team White, who won the match.
Foerster possesses an NHL-caliber shot with great hands, and this guy will be a top six forward for the Flyers in years to come.
24. Calgary Flames – Connor Zary (WHL)
FINALLY, the Calgary Flames make their first-round selection, after dropping five spots from #19 to #24 following two last-minute trades. They use the 24th overall pick to select Connor Zary, a fast, puck-moving centre from the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL.
Zary is a contributor in all aspects of the game and will fit in nicely with the Flames’ core. He tied for fifth in points last season in the WHL, recording 86 points including 38 goals in 57 games with the Blazers. He also had 15 power play goals, three shorthanded goals, and never went two straight games without a point.
The fact that the Flames got an offensively gifted player at number 24 is remarkable. Zary will be a talent in Calgary alongside Gaudreau, Tkachuk, and Monahan. Get excited, Flames fans. This kid will be the real deal. Steal of the draft.
25. Colorado Avalanche – Justin Barron (QMJHL)
The Avalanche used pick number 25 to select Justin Barron, a young defenceman from the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL.
Barron, an 18-year-old, scored 19 points in 34 games last season, a season that was cut short due to blood clot issues. Following a medical surgery in September, he is currently out indefinitely as he recovers. Looking at his junior career so far, Barron has scored 81 points and is +41 in 153 games in the QMJHL.
Barron will join an impressive young D corps in Colorado, led by Cale Makar and Samuel Girard. The Avalanche took another defenceman, Bowen Byram, fourth overall last year. Look for Barron to join these young studs on the blueline in Denver in the future.
26. St. Louis Blues – Jake Neighbours (WHL)
Going 26th overall to the St. Louis Blues is a young prospect from the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.
Jake Neighbours will add some more offensive talent to a skilled Blues team. Scoring 23 goals and 70 points in 64 games last year, including 19 points on the power play and 228 shots on net, Neighbours has incredible speed and amazing hands that can fool defenders easily. He is still committed to the Oil Kings this season, however, which is likely the best decision to aide in his development.
The Blues will look to add Neighbours to their lineup in the next few seasons, and hope that he can make an immediate impact to help the Blues to their second Stanley Cup.
27. Anaheim Ducks – Jacob Perreault (OHL)
The Anaheim Ducks acquired this pick from the Boston Bruins as part of the Ondrej Kase trade for their second pick of the first round. They used this opportunity to select an 18-year-old versatile forward in Jacob Perreault.
Perreault, a winger from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, scored 70 points in 57 games last year and led Sarnia in goals and power play points. The Ducks chose Perreault for his goal-scoring ability, as they were looking for an offensive threat in the first round.
With his strong skating ability combined with his shooting mentality and creativity, the Ducks were able to snag an elite forward at number 27.
28. Ottawa Senators – Ridly Greig (WHL)
The Senators were very active in the first round, as they acquired the 28th overall pick from the New York Islanders in the trade that sent J.G. Pageau to Long Island. The franchise used this to select Ridly Greig from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL.
Greig, a centreman, scored 60 points in 56 games with the Wheat Kings last season. He is a smart player with a high hockey IQ and plays with toughness.
The Senators chose a high-octane, tough forward with a similar agitating style of hockey that Pageau plays. He has the potential to be a solid middle six forward in Canada’s capital.
29. Vegas Golden Knights – Brendan Brisson (USHL)
The Golden Knights selected the United States Hockey League (USHL) rookie of the year, Brendan Brisson, with the 29th overall selection.
Brisson finished second in the league in scoring with 59 points in 45 games last season, his first full one with the team. His points per game average of 1.31 is second among rookies in USHL history, with only last year’s first-overall pick Jack Hughes averaging a higher points per game in his rookie year.
With Vegas having mostly all of the pieces they need to win, Brisson should get a ton of time to develop in the minor leagues. He has committed to the University of Michigan this coming season.
30. Dallas Stars – Mavrik Bourque (QMJHL)
After making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Dallas Stars selected 30th in this year’s draft, using their first-round pick to draft 18-year-old Mavrik Bourque from the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.
Bourque, a right-shot centreman, had an impressive year last season with the Cataractes. He scored 29 goals and added 42 assists for 71 points in 49 games. Exactly half of those assists came on the power play, and Bourque went an even 50.0% (300 of 600) in the faceoff circle in 2019-20.
He is a very well-rounded forward who should follow in the footsteps of young Stars Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz in the near future. With part of Dallas’ core aging, Bourque will add some youth to this loaded Stars team.
31. San Jose Sharks – Ozzy Wiesblatt (WHL)
The San Jose Sharks got a first-round pick back from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Barclay Goodrow trade, after sending their original pick to Ottawa for Erik Karlsson a couple seasons ago. With Tampa Bay having wine the Stanley Cup this season, the Sharks took their 31st overall pick and selected winger Ozzy Wiesblatt of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders.
The 5’10”, 183 pound forward was second on the Raiders (behind Guhle) with 70 points, and first on the team with 27 power play points this season. He is a fast, hard-hitting winger who displays great confidence with the puck.
Wiesblatt joins a prospect-depleted Sharks team, who has drafted just 10 players combined in the last two drafts. The Sharks desperately need some offensive talent in their prospect pool, and drafting Wiesblatt 31st overall gives them the offensive boost they need.
With the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft officially in the books and most of the big-name prospects off the board, we should see a talented set of new, youthful players in the league next year and in future years to come. As for how many of these selected players will debut in the NHL this season, it will all come down to how well these young prospects can impress at training camps.
Needless to say, we’re in for some exciting new talent in the league as there was a plethora of highly skilled players chosen in the first round. It will definitely be exciting to witness all the milestones these great players achieve in their careers!
Featured photo courtesy of Rob Reese / NHL Network
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