The intrigue in the 2020 NHL Draft could start with the Los Angeles Kings at the No. 2 pick.
Three NHL.com writers agree that the New York Rangers will select left wing Alexis Lafreniere of Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at No. 1. New York won No. 1 pick in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Aug. 10.
What the Kings do next remains unknown, but it’s likely the decision will come down to center Quinton Byfield of Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League and left wing Tim Stuetzle of Mannheim of Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), Germany’s top professional league.
[RELATED: Complete 2020 NHL Draft coverage]
At No. 3, the Ottawa Senators will make the first of three first-round selections, which they acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the trade for Erik Karlsson on Sept. 13, 2018. It is likely they will take whichever of the two forwards the Kings pass on.
The Senators also have the No. 5 and No. 28 selection, the latter of which they acquired from the New York Islanders in the trade for forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau on Feb. 24.
The New Jersey Devils also have three first-round picks. In addition to their first pick at No. 7, they will select at No. 18, acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in the trade for forward Taylor Hall on Dec. 16, and No. 20, acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the trade for forward Blake Coleman on Feb. 16. The pick originally belonged to the Vancouver Canucks, who traded it to the Lightning for forward J.T. Miller on June 22, 2019.
The Rangers (No. 22) and the Anaheim Ducks (Nos. 6 and 27) also have multiple first-round selections.
The Stanley Cup champion is awarded the No. 31 pick, but the Lightning, who defeated the Dallas Stars in six games to win their second championship, traded the selection to the Sharks for forward Barclay Goodrow on Feb. 24.
1. New York Rangers
Kimelman — Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL): When a team has the No. 1 pick, it should take the most talented player available, and in the 2020 NHL Draft there’s no question that player is Lafreniere. Elite puck skills, high-end decision-making and a physical edge should make the 18-year-old forward an easy decision for the Rangers. Yes, New York has Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider at left wing already, and they do need a center, but Lafreniere is just too talented to pass on.
Morreale — Lafreniere: Lafreniere will challenge for a role on a team already full of offensive weapons. He led all players in the Canadian Hockey League (QMJHL, OHL, Western Hockey League) with 2.15 points per game this season. But as skilled and talented as Lafreniere is, what makes him even more impressive is his willingness to play a hard game and finish checks. That will bode well for him in the Metropolitan Division.
Lepage — Lafreniere: Lafreniere lived up to all expectations this season, finishing with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games, winning his second straight CHL Player of the Year award, and helping Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he was named MVP.
2. Los Angeles Kings
Kimelman — Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL): Byfield has everything a rebuilding team is looking for: great size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), skill and a tremendous skating ability. He said he’s been focused on getting stronger since his season ended, with the goal of being able to handle the physical play of the NHL next season. Byfield has the look of a franchise center that the Kings will be able to build around as Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter slide into the late stages of their NHL careers.
Morreale — Byfield: The left-shot center, who had 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 45 games last season, is a powerful skater with breakaway speed and an exceptional skill set. He is the type of player the Kings desperately need down the middle.
Lepage — Tim Stuetzle, LW, Mannheim (GER): The Kings have made a concerted effort to find dynamic, creative forwards in the draft the past few years, including Rasmus Kupari (No. 20 in 2018), Akil Thomas (No. 51 in 2018) and Alex Turcotte (No. 5 in 2019). With his impressive vision and hockey IQ, Stuetzle fits that mold.
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)
Kimelman — Stuetzle: With the first of an NHL-high 13 picks, the Senators should opt for Stuetzle, who was named rookie of the year in the DEL last season. His mature game allowed him to earn a significant role on one of the top teams in the league as a teenager, and that experience against more developed competition should help him make a faster jump to the NHL. He could be a top-nine forward for the Senators as soon as next season.
Morreale — Stuetzle: A hard-working left-shot forward, Stuetzle can play in all situations with great speed, vision and swagger. He had 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) and 132 shots on goal in 41 games last season.
Lepage — Byfield: Even though they already have several promising forward prospects, the Senators can’t afford to overlook Byfield. The imposing center, who is an excellent skater and dangerous scorer, would fit nicely playing alongside left wing Brady Tkachuk.
4. Detroit Red Wings
Kimelman — Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL): Rossi plays bigger than his size (5-9, 183), with a feistiness and compete level that’s reminiscent of Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux. Rossi led all CHL players with 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in 56 games, willingly goes to the net to generate offense, and has a high hockey IQ that makes him a solid two-way player capable of killing penalties.
Morreale — Rossi: The Red Wings need a difference-maker at every position, and the Austria-born left-shot center averaged 2.14 points per game, second in the CHL behind Lafreniere. Rossi is capable of winning puck battles, is strong on face-offs (58.5 winning percentage) and generates offense with his IQ, slick hands and playmaking ability.
Lepage — Rossi: The 18-year-old may have given up some size to his opponents, but he still dominated this season. Rossi would be a key addition to the Red Wings’ rebuilding effort at forward.
5. Ottawa Senators
Kimelman — Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL): After selecting a top forward, the Senators can opt here for the best defenseman in the draft. Drysdale (5-11, 175) is a complete player capable of skating the puck out of his zone and leading the breakout, or smartly and accurately passing the puck up the ice. He always keeps a good gap and uses his stick and body positioning in the defensive zone to keep opponents toward the outside.
Morreale — Drysdale: Drysdale might be the best defenseman available in the draft, and the Senators could use a few more skilled defensemen capable of transitioning the puck from their zone. Drysdale can drive play with his skating and elite hockey sense, and he would help complement Thomas Chabot.
Lepage — Drysdale: This is the best possible outcome for the Senators. After selecting Byfield at No. 3, they could end up with the best defenseman in the draft. With Chabot, Erik Brannstrom and Drysdale, Ottawa’s future at the position could appear to be in good hands for seasons to come.
6. Anaheim Ducks
Kimelman — Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SWE): Raymond (5-11, 170) is among the craftiest forwards in the draft, with a skill set that has been compared to Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He already has experience playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League, where he was able to display his offensive creativity and high hockey IQ. Raymond willingly battles along the boards to make plays and is reliable defensively.
Morreale — Raymond: The Ducks need difference-makers on both ends of the ice, making Raymond too good to pass up here. He has a strong two-way game with excellent vision, intensity, a good wrist shot and nose for the net. Raymond also is a tremendous asset on the power play and penalty kill.
Lepage — Raymond: The Ducks have focused on forwards early in the draft the past few years, and Raymond has a wide range of skills that could force Anaheim to add one more. With his silky hands and unrivaled vision, Raymond could reignite the Ducks offense within a few seasons.
7. New Jersey Devils
Kimelman — Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (SWE): With left-shot centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes as the foundation in New Jersey, adding a shoot-first right wing would be smart for the Devils. Holtz (6-0, 192) is a strong skater and can get a hard, accurate shot off from anywhere in the offensive zone. He led all players 18 and under in the Swedish Hockey League with nine goals and 16 points in 35 games last season.
Morreale — Holtz: A pure goal-scorer with a great selection of shots, Holtz plays a tough, intelligent game and would be a perfect fit alongside either Hischier or Hughes. Holtz had 55 shots on goal and averaged 12:53 of ice time in 35 games in 2019-20.
Lepage — Holtz: As previously mentioned, the Devils have their two centers of the future in Hischier and Hughes. Combine their playmaking abilities with Holtz, who has a dangerous shot, and the foundation could be in place for an impressive offensive attack.
8. Buffalo Sabres
Kimelman — Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL): As much as Perfetti’s skill level stands out, it’s his smarts and high hockey IQ that allows the 18-year-old forward (5-10, 177) to always be in the right spot in all three zones. Perfetti was second in the OHL with 111 points (37 goals, 74 assists) in 61 games, has outstanding vision and is strong enough to hold off defensemen when he’s carrying the puck and creating space for himself. Perfetti might not have the flash of other players in the draft, but he does everything very well.
Morreale — Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (FIN): A two-way, left-shot forward, Lundell protects the puck extremely well and can find teammates in traffic. He had 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and 162 shots on goal in 15:49 of ice time in 44 games in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league, last season.
Lepage — Perfetti: Perfetti isn’t the biggest player, but he’s an offensive catalyst. The Sabres have selected a forward with their first pick in seven of the past nine drafts but don’t have much to show for it at the NHL level other than Sam Reinhart (No. 2 in 2014) and Jack Eichel (No. 2 in 2015). Buffalo shouldn’t pass on a center with Perfetti’s well-rounded skill set.
9. Minnesota Wild
Kimelman — Lundell: The Wild might be tempted to take a goalie here, but finding a No. 1 center is also a need, and Lundell is a player that should evolve into that role. He’s regarded as one of the best two-way players available in the draft, and at 19 years old, he was named an alternate captain for HIFK this season. Lundell has the size (6-1, 185), smarts and skill set to play in the NHL as soon as next season.
Morreale — Perfetti: Named the 2019-20 CHL Scholastic Player of the Year, Perfetti was first in four categories in the Western Conference OHL coaches’ poll (Smartest Player, Best Playmaker, Best Stickhandler, Best Shootout Shooter).
Lepage — Lundell: With Eric Staal being traded to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson and Mikko Koivu not returning, Minnesota needs to start thinking about its center depth, so Lundell makes a lot of sense here. Lundell is one of the most complete centers in this draft and has already produced against men in Liiga, with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) in 82 games as a teenager the past two seasons.
10. Winnipeg Jets
Kimelman — Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18 (NTDP): Depth at defenseman was a problem for the Jets last season but Sanderson (6-2, 185) could play a big role in fixing it. He’s an outstanding skater whose game got better as the season went on. His defensive play is already strong, and his offense is catching up quickly. Sanderson was also the captain of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program U-17 and U-18 teams the past two seasons, which shows the respect he’s earned among his coaches and teammates.
Morreale — Sanderson: Winner of the Dave Tyler Junior Hockey Player of the Year Award, presented annually by USA Hockey to the most outstanding United States-born player in junior hockey, Sanderson is a mobile, left-shot defenseman who defends with aggression. He had 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 47 games and is committed to play at the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.
Lepage — Sanderson: The Jets have dealt with the departures of several defensemen since last season, but the possibility of picking Sanderson should make them happy. The imposing defenseman is as capable of running the power play as he is at shutting down opposing forward lines, and he fits the style of play the Jets like from their back end.
11. Nashville Predators
Kimelman — Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL): The Predators need to get younger and more skilled at forward, and Quinn (6-0, 176) certainly has the necessary skills. He scored 52 goals in 62 games this season, second to Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nicholas Robertson among all CHL players. Quinn’s skating got better as the season went on and he’s confident it’ll continue to improve as he gets better off-ice training at the professional level. He’s already strong enough to win battles along the boards and is tough to knock off the puck.
Morreale — Quinn: The forward was tied for eighth in the OHL with 89 points in 62 games, and he is one of eight OHL players to score at least 50 goals in their first NHL Draft-eligible season since 2000-01, joining Corey Locke (63, 2002-03), Patrick Kane (62, 2006-07), Steven Stamkos (58, 2007-08), John Tavares (58, 2008-09), Jeff Skinner (50, 2009-10), Alex DeBrincat (51, 2015-16) and Arthur Kaliyev (51, 2018-19).
Lepage — Quinn: The Predators have had their share of issues on offense the past few seasons, so they need a prospect who can come in and be a difference-maker. Quinn was one of two players who scored at least 50 goals in the OHL this season and certainly would add some punch to Nashville’s lineup.
12. Florida Panthers
Kimelman — Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL): The Panthers have done well stocking up forward prospects, so with Guhle on the board, now would be a good time to add a top defenseman. Guhle’s skating allows him to excel in any kind of game, from up-tempo and attacking to grinding and physical, and with his size (6-2, 186), he’s strong enough to use his body to punish opposing forwards.
Morreale — Guhle: Guhle is a two-way defenseman who is considered a good skater with a hard shot. He’s a great value pick with tremendous upside at this point in the draft after he had 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games last season.
Lepage — Dawson Mercer, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL): Mercer (6-0, 180) does everything well. He can play down the middle or on the wing and should provide a boost on special teams. His versatility would be very beneficial to the Panthers, who need to add depth behind Aleksander Barkov.
13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)
Kimelman — Iaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St Petersburg (RUS-2): Goaltending has been a weak spot for the Hurricanes for some time, but Askarov has the chance to solidify the position. His inconsistent play for Russia at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship (.877 save percentage) was an outlier during an outstanding development path. He has the size NHL teams look for (6-3, 176), and scouts like his strength in the crease, his quickness and the way he reads plays. He started this season with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League by winning the player of the week award on Sept. 23.
Morreale — Askarov: An intimidating presence in net with great poise, athleticism and a quick glove, Askarov was 12-3 with a 2.45 goals-against average and.920 save percentage in 18 games in Russia’s second division in 2019-20.
Lepage — Askarov: The Hurricanes have all the necessary tools to be successful for seasons to come on offense and defense, and selecting Askarov would give them the potential for what they’ve been lacking: a franchise goalie.
14. Edmonton Oilers
Kimelman — Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL): Jarvis (5-10, 175) builds his game around his speed and dynamic offensive skills. After a slow start to the season, he was one of the best offensive players in the CHL after the Christmas break, with 65 points (28 goals, 37 assists) in 29 games.
Morreale — Jarvis: Jarvis is a smart, skilled player who executes with pace and excels as a penalty killer. He was second in the WHL with 98 points (42 goals, 56 assists) in 58 games last season.
Lepage — Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin (Big Ten): The Oilers are often criticized for not having enough depth behind star forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, which is why they may select Holloway, a powerful center with high-end offensive skills and a good skating ability.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh Penguins)
Kimelman — Mercer: Mercer can play center or wing and is a strong finisher from below the dots. He has outstanding vision that allows him to get pucks to teammates in a good position to score, and is also solid on the penalty kill.
Morreale — Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL): Schneider (6-2, 202) is a two-way, right-shot defenseman capable of playing on the power play and penalty kill with great competitiveness and smarts. He had 42 points (seven goals, 35 assists) in 60 WHL games last season.
Lepage — Guhle: With the depth the Maple Leafs have at forward, it would benefit them to add some talent at defenseman. Prospects Rasmus Sandin (No. 29 in 2018) and Timothy Liljegren (No. 17 in 2017) are developing nicely, and Guhle would add more offensive upside to their future at the position.
16. Montreal Canadiens
Kimelman — Schneider: The Canadiens selected five defensemen in the 2019 NHL Draft, but all were left-handed. Schneider is a right-handed defenseman who is still developing offensively, but he can provide a physical element. He needs time to grow his game, but it might be not be too long before he’s ready to have an impact in the NHL.
Morreale — Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL): Lapierre (6-0, 179) has great hockey sense, competitiveness and playmaking abilities. Although he was limited to 19 games because of upper-body injuries last season, he may have the highest ceiling of any player projected to go in the first round.
Lepage — Jarvis: He can play center or right wing, where the Canadiens could use some depth. With his skill set, it might not be long before Jarvis makes an impact in the NHL.
17. Chicago Blackhawks
Kimelman — Holloway: The top-rated NCAA player fits well with a Blackhawks team looking to stockpile forward prospects. Holloway is a committed 200-foot player, skates well, is strong on the forecheck, and is willing to go to the front of the net to generate offense. He will likely need at least one more college season to develop his game, but with his size (6-0, 203) and determination, he could be on the fast track to the NHL. One thing worth noting, the last time Chicago used a first-round pick on a college freshman was in 2006, when it selected Jonathan Toews at No. 3.
Morreale — Holloway: The left-shot forward is a complete two-way center with a great skill set, hands, competitiveness and drive to create offense. He could be the first NHL player from Bragg Creek, Alberta, which had a population of 589 in the 2016 Canada census.
Lepage — Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL): The Blackhawks have revamped their corps at defenseman during the past few seasons, and now they need to do the same at forward. Zary (6-0, 178) is a dynamic skater with good hands, and he is a true threat when allowed to get close to the net, as evidenced by his 38 goals in 57 games last season.
18. New Jersey Devils (from Arizona Coyotes)
Kimelman — Zary: More offense is a necessity for the Devils, and Zary is one of the most dynamic scorers in the draft. He can get past his opponents with his quick hands and can score from anywhere on the ice. Zary also is adept at drawing the opposition to him and finding open teammates. He had six point streaks of at least five games last season, including a 13-game run to open the season. He tied for fifth in the WHL with 86 points in 57 games.
Morreale — Zary: He has taken steps to become a dominant two-way player and possesses patience with the puck. Zary was tied for third in the WHL with 15 power-play goals, and tied for fourth with three shorthanded goals last season.
Lepage — Schneider: Selecting Schneider would give the Devils an excellent trio of defenseman prospects alongside Ty Smith (No. 17 in 2018) and Kevin Bahl (acquired from Arizona in the Hall trade). Schneider brings a tough and responsible playing style but can also hold his own on offense.
19. Calgary Flames
Kimelman — William Wallinder, D, Modo Jr. (SWE-JR): The Flames haven’t drafted a defenseman since Juuso Valimaki in the first round (No. 16) of the 2017 NHL Draft, but Wallinder (6-4, 191) is too good to pass on here. The left-shot defenseman is able to get his shot through traffic consistently from the blue line, and he’s an outstanding skater who can carry the puck and lead the rush or find open teammates for an outlet pass.
Morreale — Helge Grans, D, Malmo Jr. (SWE-JR): Grans (6-2, 206), a right-shot defenseman, has good vision and understanding of the game. He had 27 points (four goals, 23 assists) in 27 games in Sweden’s junior league and three points (one goal, two assists) in 21 games for Malmo in the SHL in 2019-20. He began the 2020-21 season in the SHL.
Lepage — Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (KHL): Amirov (6-foot, 177) is a well-rounded offensive player, and although he’s not an amazing skater, he is able to avoid pressure thanks to his agility and ability to handle the puck. Amirov’s style, which he models after Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, would match up very well with how the Flames like to play.
20. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver Canucks via Tampa Bay Lightning)
Kimelman — Lapierre: The only question about Lapierre is his health, as upper-body injuries limited him to 19 games last season. But with three first-round picks the Devils can afford to take a chance, and when healthy Lapierre was able to showcase his top-end offensive skills. He can use his speed to push back defenders and is creative and elusive in the offensive zone.
Morreale — Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): O’Rourke (6-foot, 178) is a two-way defenseman who plays with grit and a strong hockey sense. As Sault Ste. Marie’s captain last season, he had 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists) and 15 power-play points (four goals, 11 assists) in 54 games.
Lepage — Lapierre: Lapierre has said he has recovered from his upper-body injuries, and even though it might be a risky pick, the Devils can afford to take a chance with their third selection of the first round. With all the talent Lapierre possesses, the bet could pay off in a big way.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets
Kimelman — Amirov: Amirov showcased his top-end offensive skills in 2019-20 with Tolpar Ufa in Russia’s junior league, where he had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 17 games. Amirov started with Ufa in the KHL this season and had five points (three goals, two assists) in his first eight games. One of the older players in the draft (he turned 19 on Oct. 2), Amirov needs to add strength, but his shot, playmaking ability and quick hands would fit nice with the Blue Jackets, who are looking to develop more dynamic offensive players.
Morreale — Jacob Perreault, RW, Sarnia (OHL): The son of former NHL forward Yanic Perreault, Jacob is creative with the puck, can execute plays at top speed and has one of the best shots in this draft. He led Sarnia with 39 goals and 15 power-play goals in 57 games last season.
Lepage — Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL): The Blue Jackets love forwards with courage and who won’t hesitate to get involved physically, and that’s exactly what Bourque offers. Playing against the opposition’s top line most games, he had 71 points (29 goals, 42 assists) in 49 games last season.
22. New York Rangers (from Carolina Hurricanes)
Kimelman — Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL): Barron missed three months last season because of a blood clot issue and wasn’t available for Halifax when the 2020-21 season began Friday because of an undisclosed medical procedure. But when healthy, Barron is an outstanding puck-moving defenseman who can skate it out of trouble or make a smart tape-to-tape pass out of the defensive zone. He can play in all situations and has a nice calmness to his game.
Morreale — Ridly Greig, C, Brandon (WHL): Greig is a good skater with breakaway speed, plays a strong game at both ends of the rink, and is utilized at the point on the power play. Despite his size (5-11, 163), Greig can play in any situation, including a checking role, and possesses a high hockey IQ. He had 60 points (26 goals, 34 assists) in 56 games last season.
Lepage — Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (SHL): The Rangers typically scout Sweden-born players heavily, and Gunler (6-2, 176) would be an excellent choice. His offensive potential is unquestioned, and his shot is his best attribute — he had 27 goals in 31 games for Lulea’s junior team in 2018-19. Gunler eventually could join a forward group consisting of Panarin, Kaapo Kakko and Lafreniere.
23. Philadelphia Flyers
Kimelman — Perreault: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has mentioned a few times since the 2019-20 season ended that there’s a need for a pure goal-scorer on the roster, and the easiest way to find a player like that is to draft one. Perreault blends a shooter’s mentality with a strong skating ability and creativity with the puck. His 39 goals last season were the most by a Sarnia player in his first NHL Draft-eligible season since Steven Stamkos (58) and Justin DiBenedetto (39) in 2007-08.
Morreale — Brendan Brisson, C, Chicago (USHL): Brisson is a strong threat on the power play and established himself as a consistent two-way player with 59 points (24 goals, 35 assists) in 45 games last season. Brisson, who was named rookie of the year in the United States Hockey League, will attend the University of Michigan this season.
Lepage — Jan Mysak, C, Hamilton (OHL): After starting the season with HC Litvinov in the Czech Extraliga, the top professional league in the Czech Republic, Mysak (5-10, 175) signed with Hamilton on Jan. 13 and had 25 points (15 goals, 10 assists) in 22 games. He reads the play exceptionally well and his shot is a tremendous weapon.
24. Washington Capitals
Kimelman — Brisson: Brisson, the son of sports agent Pat Brisson, has grown up around the game and has a high hockey IQ to show for it. Brisson is a very good skater, can make plays in traffic and moves the puck well. The Capitals found a potential scorer in the first round (No. 25) of the 2019 NHL Draft with forward Connor McMichael, making Brisson a good selection to be his setup man.
Morreale — Amirov: Amirov is an offensive-minded forward capable of playing in all situations. He’s skilled, fast and smart with the puck.
Lepage — Perreault: Perreault has scored 69 goals in 120 OHL games, meaning he has an NHL-caliber shot to go along with an undeniable flair that makes him the kind of player the Capitals could appreciate.
25. Colorado Avalanche
Kimelman — Bourque: The Avalanche need to develop playmakers behind their first line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. Bourque has a high-end skill set, great vision, and the ability to slow the game down and make plays that others might not. His high hockey IQ also helps him play a 200-foot game.
Morreale — Gunler: Gunler has good passing skills, shot selection and a willingness to drive to the net to create offense. He had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 9:49 of ice time in 45 SHL games last season.
Lepage — John-Jason Peterka, RW, Munchen (GER): The dynamic forward impressed the 2020 WJC, leading Germany with four goals in seven games. In a more limited role in the DEL, Peterka (5-11, 192) showcased his explosive skating stride. He will solidify an Avalanche forward prospect pool already teeming with talent.
26. St. Louis Blues
Kimelman — Jake Neighbours, LW, Edmonton (WHL): Neighbours (6-0, 195) plays the type of physical, skilled game the Blues used to win a Stanley Cup in 2019. He can take the puck through a defender or skate around him and get to the net, and he has good hands in tight to finish those plays.
Morreale — Mercer: Mercer, a right-shot forward, scored 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) in 42 games last season. He’s a smart, heads-up skater who finishes his checks and is strong on both the power play and penalty kill.
Lepage — Brisson: Brisson showcased his skills and swagger this season in the USHL and hopes to further grow his game at the University of Michigan in 2020-21.
27. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)
Kimelman — Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL): Poirier (6-foot, 196) plays a high-risk/high-reward game, but the reward was 20 goals and 53 points in 64 games last season. However, he was also minus-25, after being minus-41 in 2018-19, showing the need for improvement in his defensive play. That can be fixed with coaching, though, so if Poirier can take a bit of the risk out of his game while still developing his skating and offensive play, he has the chance to be a top-flight NHL defenseman.
Morreale — Bourque: Bourque, a right-shot center, is a good passer, has a strong shot and excels in the defensive zone. He also had 25 power-play points (four goals, 21 assists) in 49 games last season.
Lepage — Grans: The Ducks have stocked up on forward prospects with their early selections in the draft the past few years, so this is the spot to select a defenseman. Grans is skilled with the puck, has a great skating stride and can support the attack.
28. Ottawa Senators (from New York Islanders)
Kimelman — Thomas Bordeleau, C, USA U-18 (NTDP): After taking a scorer (Stuetzle) and a defenseman (Drysdale) with their first two picks, the Senators opt for a playmaker here. Bordeleau (5-10, 175) uses his great speed and edge work to get around opponents, is a creative passer with great vision, and is smart enough to use his frame to his advantage by skating under defenders to get to the hard areas of the ice.
Morreale — Topi Niemela, D, Karpat (FIN): Niemela (5-10, 156), a right-shot defenseman, has displayed a calming presence in all situations and plays a simple, effective game. He had seven points (one goal, six assists) and 100 shots on goal while averaging 12:51 of ice time in 43 games in Liiga last season.
Lepage — Barron: Barron was hard to scout last season due to the time he missed because of a blood clot issue, but he remains a very reliable defenseman, capable of playing a physical game and efficiently starting the attack.
29. Vegas Golden Knights
Kimelman — Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Ufa (RUS): Mukhamadullin showed he’s capable of playing against men in the KHL as an 18-year-old last season, when he played 27 games. He can use his strength and size (6-4, 178) to his advantage defensively and his offensive game is developing quickly. He’s already off to a solid start this season with six points (one goal, five assists) in 12 KHL games.
Morreale — Mysak: Mysak is a smart playmaker with solid hands, a quick release and good understanding of the game. He had little trouble adapting to the North American-sized ice after arriving in Hamilton in January.
Lepage — Poirier: With a well-assembled group of defensemen already in place for Vegas, Poirier will get all the time he needs to improve his defensive play. As for his offense, Poirier possesses skills that can’t be taught.
30. Dallas Stars
Kimelman — Greig: Greig combines solid offensive skill, a high hockey IQ, and enough grit and sandpaper to be the kind of player teams love to have and hate to play against. He can help a team at even strength, on the power play or penalty kill.
Morreale — Roni Hirvonen, C, Assat (FIN): Hirvonen (5-9, 164) is a versatile, two-way forward capable of handling the puck well in traffic. He had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and 135 shots on goal while averaging 14:39 of ice time in 52 games last season. Scouts view Hirvonen as a hard-working, all-around player with a good understanding of the game.
Lepage — Tyson Foerster, RW, Barrie (OHL): The Stars’ defense is in good hands, but their forward group is aging. Foerster (6-2, 194) is a natural goal-scorer with a devastating shot who could eventually play on one of Dallas’ top two lines.
31. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay Lightning)
Kimelman — Foerster: Foerster announced himself with two goals and an assist in January at the CHL Top Prospects Game, but that was just one moment during a season that saw him score 36 goals in 62 games. Foerster’s shot is the best part of his game, but he also knows how to use it to create space for himself and find open teammates with crisp passes. He would be a good fit for the Sharks, who tied for 27th in the NHL at 2.57 goals per game last season.
Morreale — Lukas Reichel, LW, Eisbaren Berlin (GER): Reichel (6-0, 170) is a smart playmaker with good hands capable of getting to the right spots on the ice. He had 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) and 70 shots on goal while averaging 12:58 of ice time in 42 games in the DEL last season. The nephew of former NHL forward Robert Reichel, Lukas had five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games for Germany at the 2020 WJC.
Lepage — Bordeleau: The Sharks haven’t selected a forward in the first round since Josh Norris with the No. 19 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and he was part of the trade with the Senators for Karlsson. Bordeleau would give the Sharks a creative playmaker to add to their forward prospect pool.
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