2020 NHL Draft: Top 32 Prospects (May, 2020)
FINALLY, I have a new top 32 out. Why 32? Because it’s about to be 32 in the 1st round, so why not just jump the gun? Truth be told, I was working hard on doing a top 64 (again, jumping the gun) list for a lot of the pandemic, but I got this far and just decided to put this one out now since it now seems as though the draft is going to be a ways away still. A top 64 list won’t be too far behind this one, but for now, I’ll give you this. A few things off the top for you to know, especially if this is the first time you’re reading my draft stuff:
- I have an annoying need to explain things…
- I attempt to do my rankings from the POV that a GM would have, which means I’m looking at the value of players more so than simply ranking best to worst. I also put more stock into upside than most do. I love and value the draft as much as anyone, but it’s not the only avenue that can be used to build a team. So there are times where it makes sense to me to take some big swings. Don’t confuse this for a “90’s mindset” though. I just mean that in comparison to most lists you’ll see.
- I’m big on tiering. You can’t tell me that organization fit doesn’t matter, or that the separation with players as the draft goes on doesn’t get smaller and smaller. If players are even, you should be looking at things such as fit and need. No way that teams should draft strictly for need, I just mean that if you need tiebreakers and I believe you need tiebreakers more and more as the draft rolls on.
- You’ll see that I have some players positions different from most. Those are the positions I would draft the player to play, not the position they perhaps are playing currently.
- As you’ll see, I didn’t go too in-depth with most of my write-ups. I don’t have the time right at the moment. If you want to know more on most of these kid’s games though I can’t recommend my buddy Yannick St.Pierre’s YouTube page! The quality of work is outstanding and probably should be behind a paywall, but thankfully for all of us it isn’t!
- I’ll likely be accused of having a big WHL bias here, and that’s fine I completely understand and worry that I do too. But I also know what I saw this season and have a theory as to why someone who watched the league closely is higher on the kids than someone who didn’t. Coming into the season, there wasn’t any buzz about the dub kids. But I knew it was ridiculously deep for the league this season and that there are going to be a TON of dub kids going in the 12-62 range. Doing my WHL/Western Canadian rankings this season, it was tough for 3/4 of the season to find much separation. Nobody was killing it, but about 12 kids were extremely intriguing (of course, Jarvis emerged as the clear cut top guy). So, forgive me for being bias if I am, but know that I’m really trying hard to avoid it. It’s a very deep year in the West, and we’re going to see that both in the draft, and for years to come as these kids grow.
If you want more information on my views on scouting and what all I look for and how I come to my conclusions, I actually just put out this blog explaining things in detail. I try to be consistent with my logic. I have no issues with anyone who disagrees with me or sees things completely different from me, but they better be able to explain why. I see a ton of lists with no explanation and frankly, it always makes me wonder if the person doing the list ACTUALLY knows, or if they’re just taking an hour out of their day to list players and call it their list.
Ok, time to get on with the top 32 because you didn’t click this link to read all this bull shit, you want rankings! Here you go:
1. Alexis Lafrenière
Team: Rimouski League: QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 52 G: 35 A: 77 P: 112
Born: 10/11/01, Saint-Eustache, QC
Comparison: Peter Forsberg
No brainer. One thing though, you’ll see I have him listed as a centre. If I’m drafting Lafrenière, I’m drafting him to be a centre. Perhaps that won’t be the plan initially, but long term I’d want to max out an elite talent like Lafrenière and I believe you do that by using him in the middle as he is tailor-made to thrive there. As for the comp, I have yet to come up with one that I feel is spot on. I guess you could say he’s a combination of Jonathan Huberdeau and Leon Draisaitl if you’re limiting yourself to today’s players. I say Forsberg because I see a lot of similarities, I believe he should move to the middle, and in time I believe that’s what he’ll become…should he move to the middle. But I do worry it’ll take a team a very long time before they figure out this needs to be done. Word is that Lafrenière isn’t a fan of the idea.
2. Quinton Byfield
Team: Sudbury League: OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’4 Wt: 214 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 45 G: 32 A: 50 P: 82
Born: 08/19/02, Newmarket, ON
Comparison: Evgeni Malkin
It’s insane how some have nitpicked his game this season. He is producing at a better pace in his 17 year old season than Lafrenière did in his! And he’s 6’4, 214lbs! And he’s an amazing skater! The upside is INCREDIBLE, and the downside is what? 2nd line winger?! Wake up, he’s closer to Lafrenière than he is to Stützle, don’t overthink this.
3. Jamie Drysdale
Team: Erie League: OHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11 Wt: 170 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 49 G: 9 A: 38 P: 47
Born: 04/08/02, Toronto, ON
Comparison: Morgan Rielly
He has all the ability to become a franchise defenceman. He also is far and away the top defenceman in a draft class extremely thin on pure puck-moving D-men, which boosts his draft stock. If your team needs a defenceman and he’s still available, they better have a DAMN good reason to pass on him.
4. Tim Stützle
Team: Adler Mannheim League: DEL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 187 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 41 G: 7 A: 27 P: 34
Born: 01/15/02, Viersen, GER
Comparison: Mathew Barzal
I was pretty early on Stützle as I had him in my top 15 last summer (that I had seen anyway, I could be wrong), and I was fully on board when he started to get top five hype. So I get why so many love him, but the talk of him going 2nd seems absurd to me. But don’t get that twisted, I’m a huge fan of this kid and believe he can become a number one centre. He needs a year though, and maybe two before I’d be looking at him playing. There is so much talent, but there is still quite a bit in his game that’s raw.
5. Lucas Raymond
Team: Frölunda HC League: SHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 165 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 33 G: 4 A: 6 P: 10
Born: 03/28/02, Göteborg, SWE
Comparison: Paul Kariya
Raymond had a difficult season, but you look at the speed and skill this kid oozes and there really shouldn’t be any reason for Raymond to fall out of the top five. Some are down on what he could be, but I don’t really get it. The upside here is enormous. He’s going to be the type of winger who can drive his own line and really tilt the ice.
6. Yaroslav Askarov
Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg League: VHL
Pos: G Ht: 6’3 Wt: 176 Glove: R
2020 Stats – GP: 18 GAA: 2.45 Sv%: .920
Born: 06/16/02, Omsk, RUS
Comparison: Miikka Kiprusoff
Did you know that three of the last five goaltenders to go in the top five of a draft are going to the hall of fame (Luongo, Fleury, Price)? One flat out busted, but did so because of injuries (DiPietro). The other one didn’t live up to expectations but had some big seasons and also ran into a lot of injury issues. Don’t get me wrong here, this is 100% against what I believe in. I believe you take goaltenders in rounds 3-7 and you take about three every four years, if not four in five years. But you have to be open-minded enough to recognize when the exception to the rule comes along, and I believe Askarov is just that. Given his talent, his upside, and the track record of Russian born goaltenders of late (3/3 for those taken in the 1st round since 2006) I wouldn’t be allowing him to sit there too long. He has the potential to change a franchise, and there aren’t many of those types of talents in this draft or any draft.
7. Marco Rossi
Team: Ottawa League: OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’9 Wt: 179 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 56 G: 39 A: 81 P: 120
Born: 09/23/01, Feldkirch, AUT
Comparison: Sebastian Aho
The size and how his production has really come from beating up on inferior competition scares me a little bit. You might say “Size?! Undersized guys are now thriving you dinosaur!!” Not what I mean bud. I worry about the size when it comes to him playing his style of game, and doing that as a centre. There is a reason that you don’t see many centres under 5’10 in the league. It’s extremely difficult and you need to have an incredible 200-foot game to thrive if you’re undersized at that position. I’m confident that Rossi could be that guy though, which is why I have him in my top 10. But because of how rare it would be for someone as small as he is to thrive down the middle, I can’t bring myself to put him higher than 7th even though I’m a massive fan of his game.
8. Seth Jarvis
Team: Portland League: WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 172 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 58 G: 42 A: 56 P: 98
Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB
Comparison: Brad Marchand
Jarvis took his game to another level as the season went on. His compete, confidence, and his assertiveness just went through the roof, and it leaves me with nothing I dislike about his game. As for my comparison being Brad Marchand…I just mean in terms of his style and ability, none of the extracurricular stuff.
9. Alexander Holtz
Team: Djurgårdens IF League: SHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 183 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 35 G: 9 A: 7 P: 16
Born: 01/23/02, Saltsjö-Boo, SWE
I’m not the biggest fan of snipers. You’ll often see in my rankings that I’m more down on them than most. So Holtz is further down my list than he is with most. But with Holtz, what does intrigue me more than most shoot first types is that he has a solid game away from the puck, he isn’t basically a floater as so many shooters are. So he’s a kid who at least has a chance to develop a much more well-rounded game thanks to that mentality.
10. Cole Perfetti
Team: Saginaw League: OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 185 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 61 G: 37 A: 74 P: 111
Born: 01/01/02, Whitby, ON
Comparison: Ray Whitney
I saw SPR take a lot of heat for knocking Perfetti. I’m not as harsh on him, but I definitely think there is something to what Sean says. I don’t think Perfetti is a BAD skater, but he isn’t a great skater, and when you combine that with how he loves to dangle and struggles away from the puck, those are legitimate reasons to be concerned. He won’t be able to dangle pro defencemen like he can OHL defencemen. I believe he’ll have to make a lot of adjustments to thrive in pro hockey. But having said that, I don’t view them as ones that are difficult to make. All the tools are there to thrive. Understand this too, going back to what Sean said…just because he’s LOWER on him, doesn’t mean he thinks he’s nothing. In 2018 I had Svechnikov ranked 6th because of the bust rate for Russian forwards taken in the top 25 of the draft since 2004 (only 1/10 prior to the 2018 draft, which has since changed to 2/10 thanks to Gurianov finally getting his career going). But I didn’t dislike Svechnikov AT ALL, I just found him to be a much bigger risk given that info that essentially proved Russian forwards weren’t being scouted properly. Caufield is another guy for me I wasn’t ranking as high as others, but having Caufield at 16 on my board didn’t mean I thought he was trash, I simply thought others were either better gambles or were more of a certainty than Caufield.
11. Jack Quinn
Team: Ottawa League: OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 176 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 62 G: 52 A: 37 P: 89
Born: 09/19/01, Cobden, ON
Comparison: Justin Williams
I didn’t like Quinn for a long time. And I think there was a false narrative out there that he was living off Rossi, which I stupidly bought into. But he didn’t play with Rossi five on five, and he put up 34 goals ES. Love his speed. Being such a heavy “shoot first” type hurts him in my rankings as historically snipers in junior have a difficult time bringing that game to the show, but his speed and motor make him very endearing.
12. Kaiden Guhle
Team: Prince Albert League: WHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’3 Wt: 187 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 64 G: 11 A: 29 P: 40
Born: 01/18/02, Sherwood Park, AB
Comparison: Darnell Nurse
The upside is off the charts with Guhle. Skating, size, edge, IQ, the kid checks all the boxes to at least be an NHL defenceman someday. I believe he can be a top pair defenceman, if not a legitimate number one guy someday, but he needs time. In my opinion, he needs two more seasons in the WHL, and one full season in the AHL. Then we’ll see. This is not a kid that an organization should be rushing, and if the proper time is taken, the organization which drafts will have quite the player on their hands.
13. Jake Sanderson
Team: USNTDP League: USHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’1 Wt: 185 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 66 G: 9 A: 34 P: 43
Born: 07/08/02, Whitefish, MT
Comparison: Hampus Lindholm
His dad would thrive even more than he did in the 90’s and early 2000’s if he were playing today as speed is much more of a priority and Geoff was a fantastic skater. Jake is too, but that is where the similarities end. A polarizing kid in this draft. It seems as though the NHL scouts really love him, while the independent guys aren’t too enthralled. Some probably think that I’ve got him too high at 13, but his skating and IQ are going to give him a chance to continually develop his offensive game. His ability to defend is high end, so he’s a lot like Guhle only minus the physicality.
14. Dylan Holloway
Team: Wisconsin League: NCAA
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 192 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 35 G: 8 A: 9 P: 18
Born: 09/23/01, Calgary, AB
Comparison: Timo Meier
Rare that I compare a centre to a winger or vice versa, but they do remind me a lot of each other, despite the fact that I believe Holloway will be able to play the middle. Three big traits that he possesses which I love: speed, motor, physicality. On top of that, he has the versatility to slot in several different places in a lineup. Some worry about the numbers at Wisconsin, but you have to remember, the jump from the AJ to the NCAA is an enormous one.
15. Jack Finley
Team: Spokane League: WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’5 Wt: 207 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 61 G: 19 A: 38 P: 57
Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC
Comparison: Jordan Staal
I’m well aware you likely think this is insanely high. For me, I don’t need a kid to be toe dragging everyone to see how he can thrive in the NHL. He’s not anything sexy, but he has all the tools to be an elite 2nd line centre in the league which in my opinion is an extremely vital piece for a franchise to have. He showed both the skillset and the mindset this season to be that player. His production doesn’t jump off the page, but he got most of the tough minutes for Spokane this season, didn’t see much PP time until late, and didn’t see much time on Adam Beckman’s line (who was the leading scorer in the dub). 47 ES points for Finley, just one shy of Connor Zary who he is both a better skater than, much bigger than, and a full year younger than. Don’t mean to write forever on Finley, but it kind of drives me nuts that so many people are sleeping on him. It feels almost like backlash because he’s big. Skates well, works hard all over the ice, very high IQ, showcases very good hands, good vision, and then he’s one of the youngest players in the draft so there is a ridiculous amount of room to continue growing. He’s FAR from a coke machine. I’m not expecting him to be drafted anywhere near here, but I truly believe people are going to be kicking themselves for sleeping on him.
16. Anton Lundell
Team: HIFK League: Liiga
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 183 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 44 G: 10 A: 18 P: 28
Born: 10/03/01, Espoo, FIN
Comparison: Ryan O’Reilly
He’s not a sexy player for fans to get excited about, but Lundell is going to be such a valuable addition for a hockey club. A Ryan O’Reilly type centre who can thrive in any situation. Others have dropped him in their rankings much further than this, but I wonder how much of that is perhaps Lias Andersson backlash? It would be understandable as they have very similar games, and I’m not a big fan of his skating, but I wasn’t a big fan of ROR’s skating when he entered the league. These type of players are just so damn valuable, I’d have a tough time watching a guy like this drop too far if I were a GM.
17. Dawson Mercer
Team: Chicoutimi League: QMJHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 179 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 42 G: 24 A: 36 P: 60
Born: 10/27/01, Bay Roberts, NL
Comparison: Jordan Eberle
I’m not super high on Mercer’s ability to improve greatly over what he is right now, but I see him as one of the safest picks in this draft. This kid just seems like a guy who is going to step into a team’s top six in a year or two, and never leave. Just an easy game for guys to gel with.
18. Ozzy Wiesblatt
Team: Prince Albert League: WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 183 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 64 G: 25 A: 45 P: 70
Born: 03/09/02, Calgary, AB
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
I’m well aware that you can read the comp, but I can’t stress enough just how damn much of T.J. Oshie I see in this kids game. Good skater, good skill, high motor, physical, versatile, he’s a kid who can be thrown into any role, any situation, and he’s going to deliver. I really see him as a can’t miss player. Might only be a 3rd line winger, but the upside is definitely there to be a fantastic complementary piece in a top-six role.
19. Noel Gunler
Team: Luleå HF League: SHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 174 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 45 G: 4 A: 9 P: 13
Born: 10/07/01, Luleå, SWE
Comparison: Tyler Toffoli
The work ethic gets questioned, but I wonder how much of it is simply that this guy isn’t a checker. Because he’s not lazy and plays with a decent motor. No doubt there are concerns about his play away from the puck. But he has a terrific shot. As you’ll know if you’ve read my rankings in the past, I’m not as big on the shoot first guys as some. But once we’re down around this point, it makes a lot more sense to an anti shoot first guy like myself.
20. Hendrix Lapierre
Team: Chicoutimi League: QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 181 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 19 G: 2 A: 15 P: 17
Born: 02/09/02, Gatineau, QC
Comparison: Brayden Point
So difficult to rank. I’m a huge fan of what I’ve seen, but the neck issues are troubling. After seeing him in the Hlinka/Gretzky, I had him in my top five, but that’s about all we got to see this season. This all depends on the medical reports obviously. If they check out, I still believe he’s worthy of going in this range as he’s just too big of a talent, in my opinion, to pass on at a certain point. I’ve had neck issues for a decade now that cause cervicogenic headaches. They mimic migraines. In fact, when I first started getting them I really believed I was having post-concussion syndrome as I had a concussion a few months prior in which my one boss rushed back to work running heavy equipment just three days later (which if you’ve ran heavy equipment, then you know how awful that is for someone coming off a concussion), so I didn’t even give any thought to it being a neck issue. Cervicogenic headaches can be brutal, but they also aren’t overly serious (especially if your neck can constantly be worked on) and it’s nothing that a chiropractor can’t help you through. As soon as your neck is aligned properly again, the headaches immediately go away, because they aren’t actually headaches. Now, I’m saying all this, I don’t know that this was what the problem for Lapierre was. I just know it was a neck issue that they thought were concussions. But having gone through it, I would bet good money that’s what the issue has been (as long as they’re telling the truth). Remember too, Crosby missing all that time in 2011 and 2012 with what was thought to be concussion issues, and once they figured out it was actually a neck issue, he was good to go again and hasn’t struggled with it since.
21. Jan Mysak
Team: Hamilton League: OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 176 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 22 G: 15 A: 10 P: 25
Born: 06/24/02, Litvinov, CZE
Comparison: Patrick Sharp
I loved what I saw in his 22 games in the OHL. A kid who I list as a winger and would draft him as a winger, but the potential is definitely there to continue playing the middle in pro hockey, which is always a nice bonus with a prospect up front. The comp to Sharp comes from the fact that while he can put the puck in the net and is a shoot-first guy, he has shown that he can be trusted in any situation which will obviously win him big points with coaches as he furthers his development. So he’ll get a ton of opportunity to succeed.
22. Lukas Reichel
Team: Eisbären Berlin League: DEL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 172 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 42 G: 12 A: 12 P: 24
Born: 05/17/02, Nürnberg, GER
Comparison: Alex Tanguay
One thing I admittedly worry about is that I and others are overrating the German/DEL kids this season thanks to a Leon Draisaitl influence, but more so how badly most of us (not all, Yannick for one, Yzerman for another) underrated Moritz Seider. Anyway, with Reichel he is just scratching the surface with what he can be. He’s showcased a really high IQ, and a good work ethic. Combine that with how raw his game still is and the upside is really intriguing. As is the case with anyone raw though, he needs time.
23. Mavrik Bourque
Team: Shawinigan League: QMJHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 165 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 49 G: 29 A: 42 P: 71
Born: 01/08/02, Plessisville, QC
Comparison: Kevin Fiala
One word comes to mind watching Bourque: crafty. I love the IQ with this kid. And even though he’s only 5’10, if that 165lbs is accurate, then he has 15-20lbs still to put on which could help his skating. The skating is passable, but an extra gear for Bourque could be massive for his game.
24. William Wallinder
Team: MODO J-20 League: SuperElit
Pos: LD Ht: 6’4 Wt: 192 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 37 G: 5 A: 19 P: 24
Born: 07/28/02, Sollefteå, SWE
Comparison: Jacob Trouba
The skating ability/size combo is ridiculous. So raw, but all the tools are here to be a legitimate stud defenceman. Will Souch did a terrific video breaking down all of Wallinder’s game that you can see here. Just like Guhle, he needs a lot of time. He might even need more time than Guhle before we’re talking about him playing in the show. He’s a kid who an interview could make or break his ranking for me. Comes off as highly intelligent and committed to his craft, and I might be tempted to put him up with Guhle and Sanderson. But without that knowledge, I can’t put him higher than this.
25. Michael Benning
Team: Sherwood Park League: AJHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’10 Wt: 174 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 54 G: 12 A: 63 P: 75
Born: 01/05/02, St. Albert, AB
Comparison: Ethan Bear
Most are sleeping on him. He matched Cale Makar’s pre-draft year production, and his draft year production (pre-draft they both had one more point than games played, and then this season they had the exact same 75 points in 54, and Makar’s team in those years was just as good as the Crusaders this season), except these have been Benning’s 16 and 17 year old seasons, for Makar they were his 17 year old and 18 year old seasons. I don’t like going into stats too heavily, but this is a case where I seem to be the only one pointing this out all season, while understanding that Benning has all the tools to be a top-four NHL defenceman, and yet he is getting zero 1st round buzz. He’s not Makar, I’d never suggest that. They play different games, and Benning doesn’t have THAT kind of upside. But just because he’s not Makar doesn’t mean that Benning is going to be damn good.
26. Ronan Seeley
Team: Everett League: WHL
Pos: LD Ht: 5’11 Wt: 176 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 63 G: 3 A: 29 P: 32
Born: 08/02/02, Yellowknife, NT
Comparison: Josh Morrissey
He’s much like Finley in terms of this likely being a bit of a stunner, but I’ve watched the dub closely this season believe that people aren’t just sleeping on Seeley, they’re in a coma. A very slow start, and he was a victim of playing on maybe the best blueline in the WHL. The offensive numbers will come (though they actually did, 30 of his points came in his final 46 games). He is a terrific skater, very good puck-mover, and is very reliable in his own zone. I highly doubt anyone picks Seeley in the 1st round, but when it’s all said and done I believe a ton of people could be really kicking themselves that they didn’t.
27. Ridly Greig
Team: Brandon League: WHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 159 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 56 G: 26 A: 34 P: 60
Born: 08/08/02, Lethbridge, AB
Comparison: Brayden Schenn
He’s a coach’s dream and just does everything right. I was high on him entering the season, and then he was so solid in a support role at the Hlinka/Gretzky, and just simply showcased it all season. I moved him up both these rankings and my Western rankings late because I just keep going back to how physically immature he is. Greig is going to add another 20, maybe even 30lbs to his frame! Playing the physical style he does and showcasing that he’s committed to playing a 200-foot game, that extra size will help him tremendously. IQ, skating, and motor to develop a very complete game. I thought about having him as high as 21, but one red flag would be the assists. Half of his 34 apples came with the man advantage.
28. Rodion Amirov
Team: Tolpar Ufa League: MHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 168 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 17 G: 10 A: 12 P: 22
Born: 10/02/01, Salavat, RUS
Comparison: Kyle Connor
I realize he actually played more games in the KHL, but his MHL numbers give a better indication of the type of prospect the team who drafts Amirov will be getting. Anyway, I have made no bones about how I feel about drafting Russian born forwards the last few years…I’m leery. That stance could be softening with guys like Gurianov showing signs of becoming a real player this season, obviously Andrei Svechnikov is fantastic, but the track record on these kids in the first round for over a decade has been pretty brutal. It’s not all Russian born players, just the forwards. So Amirov gets punished for that coming in at 28, but I’m well aware that he has tremendous talent.
29. John-Jason Peterka
Team: EHC München League: DEL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 192 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 42 G: 7 A: 4 P: 11
Born: 01/14/02, München, GER
Comparison: Kyle Palmieri
Peterka is a burner. I know there is some question out there about his ceiling, but he’s a very safe bet in my mind given the speed, given the motor, and he does have some pretty good skill to go with it. He’s got a raw game right now, so the team that drafts him likely needs to give him three full years before looking at him for a roster spot. But again, to my eye, he’s a safe bet to fill a top-nine role on any club.
30. Jacob Perreault
Team: Sarnia League: OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 198 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 57 G: 39 A: 31 P: 70
Born: 04/15/02, Montreal, QC
Comparison: Mike Hoffman
I worry about the work ethic. It’s tough to look past the whole “privileged kid” thing when you combine what you see on the ice with the fact that he’s the son of a former NHL player (Yanic). All the tools though to thrive in the NHL. It’s funny with the bloodlines in this year’s draft. Most of the time, kids play a lot like their fathers. But in this draft you have Sanderson who is a stud defensive defenceman rather than goal-scoring winger, Finley is a giant centre rather than a puck-moving defenceman, Benning is the closet because at least he plays the same position as his old man but he’s much more skilled than Brian was, Greig plays a bit like his old man but I see him as a likely centre where Mark was a winger, and now Jacob Perreault being gifted and a bit lazy where his dad couldn’t skate and really got by with his IQ and work ethic.
31. Braden Schneider
Team: Brandon League: WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’2 Wt: 209 Shot: R
2020 Stats – GP: 60 G: 7 A: 35 P: 42
Born: 09/20/01, Prince Albert, SK
Comparison: Travis Hamonic
May as well call this one “the WHL safe bets tier”. I wasn’t as high on Schneider as most were this season, mainly because the upside doesn’t intrigue me. Don’t mistake this for me not liking the player, I really love his game. He can skate, defend, and plays very physical. But I don’t see him becoming more than a number four defenceman. That’s a nice piece to find, but it’s not an overly difficult piece to find. So he’s very close to a sure thing, but I would take some bigger swings before I’d settle on the safe bet that is Schneider.
32. Connor Zary
Team: Kamloops League: WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 181 Shot: L
2020 Stats – GP: 57 G: 38 A: 48 P: 86
Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK
Comparison: Jarret Stoll
I got eight WHL and nine Western kids in total in my top 32. I won’t hide from it very likely being thanks to how closely I watched the league this season. But it speaks to what I saw all season which was while there wasn’t much high-end with the West this season (though Jarvis emerged as that guy), the depth is insane! I feel as though a lot of people are going a little overboard on Zary, so I’m going to tell you some of the reasons why I’m a little leery. The skating is suspect. It’s passable, but it needs work. He played on the best line in the dub this season, and though Franklin and Centazzo (shoutout to my fellow Wildcats) aren’t drafted, it’s not as though Zary was carrying them. Finally, 44% of his production came with the man advantage. I like him, but it’s just a case of there being more question marks then some are suggesting. He plays a complete game and is very coachable, but much like with Schneider I question how much upside there is.
Keep in mind, this is just a top 32. My top 64 won’t be too far behind this (at least as of writing this that’s the plan). There is a lot of depth in this draft. I’m not sure I LOVE this draft as much as I thought I would, but it is very deep and the separation from about 20-60 is pretty nominal in my opinion.
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