So now we know! The New York Rangers won the Lafrenière lottery, and not only that but now we have the order of the top 15 as well. So with that being the case, why not do a mock draft?! I hope you weren’t expecting a longer opening than this, because I spent four hours working on this, it’s now 12:30, and I want to go to bed so I’ll do a 500 word opening some other time!
I don’t go off it for my mock drafts, but if you’re interested, my final rankings for the 2020 draft (a top 64 list) is also out now, and you can check that out here.
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Team: Rimouski League: QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: L
Comparison: Peter Forsberg
SOH Rank: 1st
So NOW we know! First of all…what a win for the league. What a win for the league to the point of…and I’m so not a conspiracy theorist…but this is a little TOO perfect. But I digress because I’d rather something good for the game than good for my team, and the Rangers being an elite team as it appears they’re set to become, is really good for the game.
Now…while I believe this is good for the game, I actually believe this is one of the few teams who could look at a couple of different trade opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect either to happen. Maybe a 5% chance. But IF Jack Eichel asks or has already asked out of Buffalo, there is definitely a blockbuster to be made between the Sabres and Rangers based around the top pick for Jack Eichel. I believe a big contract would have to go to Buffalo (perhaps Jacob Trouba), I believe the Sabres would have to make sure they land Alexandar Georgiev as part of the deal given how bad they need to upgrade their goaltending, and then I’m not sure what else maybe needs to be added to make it work. Maybe the 8th pick goes back to the Rangers, but if that’s too rich for the Sabres, then maybe the Canes 1st goes in the deal as well? There is a deal here IF Eichel wants to leave Buffalo. And before you say the Rangers won’t deal the pick, remember that they don’t just not have a 1st line centre moving forward, they’re really thin down the middle. Also remember who Jack Eichel’s coach was at BU…that would be Rangers head coach David Quinn.
The other trade option that COULD be there for the Rangers and COULD make sense…the Senators possibly offering the 3rd and 5th picks. I’m sceptical that Pierre Dorian would do this though. Given the talent that will be available at 3, it’s A LOT to get someone who might only be a slight upgrade. Dorian does have a crazy owner though who likes crazy things. If the Rangers did get offered this, and had the chance to take one of Byfield or Stützle (both natural centres, and potential franchise centres) along with adding the 5th pick, I think they’d have to do it.
But the FAR more likely scenario is that the Rangers simply take Lafrenière. As you see, and as you may be well aware of because I’ve been saying it for a long time now, I prefer Lafrenière to play the middle. I think a talent like this needs to be maxed out, and playing the wing I believe limits the impact he can have on a game. Given the Rangers needs, I believe there is a great chance that this comes to fruition. If he or the team is stubborn though and he remains on the wing, then as much as the Rangers have done a terrific job rebuilding, I’m not sure they’re built to be anything more than just a perennial playoff team. I could be very wrong about that, and no doubt that some of the “rebuild rules” so to speak won’t apply to the Rangers as they have no problem attracting UFA’s or players with NTC’s and NMC’s, but it could be a big issue for them moving forward if they don’t address it in some form soon. Wow, I’ve never wrote this much on one pick, let alone the top pick! But I didn’t feel like doing a full-on blog about it, so you got this instead.
Other Option: Trade – just laid it out for you, don’t think I need to go any further with it.
Possible Reach: Quinton Byfield – you can make the argument for him, especially for the Rangers. He’s a legitimate centre, he’s got the size advantage, he’s got the skating advantage, he’s 10 months younger, and he was producing at a better pace this season than Lafrenière was last season, in a better league. But it has about a 0.000000000000000000004% chance of happening.
Team: Sudbury League: OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’4 Wt: 214 Shot: L
Comparison: Eric Staal
SOH Rank: 2nd
It is a toss-up between Byfield and Stützle. I’m saying Byfield for a few reasons. 1) the Kings LOVE the OHL. Now, that might be a Mike Futa thing, who is no longer with the organization. But the way they’ve drafted in recent years, they might love the OHL more than any other team in the league. 2) the Kings won with size, especially down the middle. While the regime that won is mostly gone, the people still in the organization were also with the King at that time. 3) I can’t imagine the league wouldn’t be pushing hard for the Kings to take a potential star of African descent. Byfield in Ottawa wouldn’t have the impact that Byfield in a major U.S. market like L.A. would have. It would be massive for the league. Right or wrong, I believe it’ll play a factor in this decision.
Other Option: Tim Stützle – again, it’s 50/50. I know what I just wrote, but we’re splitting hairs. Stützle would likely be the pick for most teams as he’s the riser, just think Byfield ends up being the Kings guy.
Possible Reach: Jamie Drysdale – as I just said with Byfield, they love the OHL, but was that a Mike Futa thing or is it an organizational thing? They really need to start the rebuild on the backend.
3. Tim Stützle
Team: Adler Mannheim League: DEL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Mathew Barzal
SOH Rank: 3rd
Originally San Jose’s pick sent to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade. Highly likely that what happens here is that the Sens simply take the guy the Kings don’t. So, in this case, it’s Stützle. Some debate whether or not he can play the middle. I believe he can, and I believe he has 1st line centre ability which the Sens really need.
Other Option: Jamie Drysdale – I say Drysdale, but essentially it’s Drysdale or Sanderson because if they happen to love one of them more than the other and want to ensure they land him, then with the 5th pick in their possession they could afford to take that guy here and then maybe Rossi at five.
Possible Reach: Marco Rossi – same idea as Drysdale. Perhaps they’ll love the kid playing in their backyard so much that they ensure they get him. By the stats, you can justify it.
Team: USNTDP League: USHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’1 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Miro Heiskanen
SOH Rank: 7th
Risers always go higher than expected. I can’t put Sanderson above this spot, but he’s going top five in my opinion and it’s just a matter of whether or not the Wings pull the trigger at four, or the Sens do it at five. Honestly, I don’t get it, I prefer Drysdale, but it seems to be what always happens. I’d love this for the Wings though. Sure, last year they took Moritz Seider with their top pick, but that blueline still has a ton of work to be done.
Other Option: Cole Perfetti – I’m not ready to go here yet, but man alive is Sam Cosentino ever confident that they’re going to make this selection and if they do it is for ALL the wrong reasons! This team needs to find pieces that can get them back to contender status, not complimentary wingers who have ties to the front office. But Sammy Coz seems extremely confident that they’re going to take Perfetti. I wonder if a trade back with Jersey to the 7th pick maybe makes sense if this is what they want to do? I’ll explain later.
Possible Reach: Yaroslav Askarov – Give this some real thought for a minute. The Wings are still a LONG ways off. They won’t be ready to win for another three years in my opinion. He is going to be three or four years before he’s even ready for NHL action. Goaltending prospects like this rarely come around. And finally, Yzerman had amazing success taking Andrei Vasilevskiy in the 1st round in 2012. I can actually make a strong case for it.
Team: Erie League: OHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11 Wt: 170 Shot: R
Comparison: Morgan Rielly
SOH Rank: 4th
To walk out of this draft with Stützle and Drysdale would be massive for this organization as you’d legitimately getting a potential franchise centre and a potential franchise defenceman. They have stocked the shelves somewhat on D, but I don’t think teams ever feel as though they have enough.
Other Option: Marco Rossi – would make a ton of sense here, and while I prefer that they take a D-man with this pick, and believe they will, shoring up centre is never a bad thing.
Possible Reach: Yaroslav Askarov – 2nd in a row for Askarov. I should clarify that he wouldn’t be a reach for me as I have him 6th, and in the same tier as Drysdale and Rossi. But for most, he’d be considered a reach at four or five. Again though, pretty damn rare for goaltending prospects like this to come along.