2020 NHL Draft first-round results, analysis

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Thirty-one players will be selected in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft on Tuesday. The draft is being held virtually due to concerns of the coronavirus.

NHL.com deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman will provide analysis of each first-round pick. 

Here is the latest news on the draft from NHL.com:

 

[RELATED: 2020 Draft Tracker | NHL Trade Tracker]

 

1. New York Rangers – Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (North American skaters)

Lafreniere (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games in 2019-20. He won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the leading scorer in the QMJHL, the Paul Dumont Trophy as QMJHL personality of the year, the Michel Briere Trophy as the most valuable player in the QMJHL, the Canadian Hockey League Top Draft Prospect of the Year Award and the CHL Player of the Year. He had 30 multipoint games and 11 games with at least four points, including a career-high seven points (one goal, six assists) against Quebec on Feb. 16. He scored 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) in 20 games after returning from the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic, where he was named the tournament’s most valuable player after scoring 10 points (four goals, six assists) in five games to help Canada win the championship. Lafreniere, who will turn 19 on Oct. 11, is the third player from the QMJHL chosen No. 1 in the draft in the past eight years. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (2013; Halifax) and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (2017; Halifax) are the others. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was the last Rimouski player chosen No. 1 (2005).

NHL.com analysis: The Rangers select the most talented player available in the draft. After dominating players his own age, Lafreniere has the size (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) skill and hockey IQ to make an impact next season as a top-nine forward in New York. He’s also got some sandpaper to his game and won’t be intimidated by the physicality of the NHL. He’s a potential 50-point player next season. Lafreniere is the first Quebec-born player to be taken with the No. 1 pick since goalie Marc-Andre Fleury by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2003. The last Rimouski player to go No. 1 was forward Sidney Crosby to the Penguins in 2005.

Video: New York Rangers select Alexis Lafreniere No. 1

 

No. 2. Los Angeles Kings – Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (North American skaters)

Byfield, who scored 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 45 games for Sudbury this season, is the highest-selected Black player in the NHL Draft, ahead of Evander Kane (2009, Atlanta Thrashers) and Seth Jones (2013, Nashville Predators), each chosen with the No. 4 pick. The 18-year-old (6-4, 215) was tied for 14th in the Ontario Hockey League in points but was tied for fifth in points per game (1.82) and won 51.9 percent of his face-offs (304-for-586).

NHL.com analysis: The 18-year-old has a skill set reminiscent of Joe Thornton at the same age: Great size but a bit thin (6-4, 215), top-end playmaking ability and outstanding skating. As Thornton got older and spent time around NHL strength and conditioning coaches he got stronger and became dominant, and it’s easy to see Byfield doing the same with the Kings.

Video: Los Angeles Kings select Quinton Byfield

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