The Ottawa Senators are expected to select either center Quinton Byfield or left wing Tim Stuetzle with the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
“We think we’re going to get [either Byfield or Stuetzle], which is very exciting for us and exciting for our fans,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said Monday. “Both players can play in the NHL as of next year, we feel as a group. They’ll be rookies, so we have to sometimes temper expectations, but at the same time you’re getting two potential superstars.”
Ottawa has three picks in the first round (No. 3, No. 5, No. 28), four picks in the second round and an NHL-high 12 selections in all.
The draft will be held virtually, with the first round Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 on Wednesday (11:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN1).
The New York Rangers hold the No. 1 pick and are expected to choose left wing Alexis Lafreniere of Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Los Angeles Kings have the No. 2 pick.
“We’ll just wait and see what Los Angeles does,” Dorion said. “We know we’re going to get a good player that our fans will be really excited to come and watch.”
The Senators are the first team since the New York Islanders in 2000 to have two choices in the top five.
Byfield (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) of Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League is No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters, behind Lafreniere. He scored 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 45 OHL games. Byfield could become the highest Black player selected in the NHL Draft, ahead of Evander Kane (2009, Atlanta Thrashers) and Seth Jones (2013, Nashville Predators), each chosen with the No. 4 pick.
Stuetzle (6-1, 187), a left wing with Mannheim of Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), the top professional league in Germany, is No. 1 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of International skaters. He scored 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 41 games and was named DEL rookie of the year.
“They’re both different players,” Dorion said. “Byfield creates offense a little bit more with his power. Stuetzle creates it more with his speed. Both are tremendously skilled and both will be frontline players in the NHL.”
In addition to the No. 3 pick, acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the trade for defenseman Erik Karlsson on Sept. 13, 2018, and the No. 5 selection, the Senators also received the New York Islanders’ pick (No. 28) in the trade for forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau on Feb. 24.
Dorion said the Senators intend to hold onto all three first-round picks unless they get an offer they can’t refuse.
“Nothing’s been offered that we would consider at this point in time [for the No. 5 pick], but as we get closer we might consider it,” he said. “We all know this is a deep draft. We still feel that we’re going to get a pretty good player if we make the No. 28 selection. We know that drop runs in pretty deep into the third round too.
“I don’t know if we’re going to have all our picks when we’re done by Wednesday, but we still feel that we’re going to make more selections than a lot of other teams.”
The Senators were one of seven teams not to take part in the NHL Return to Play Plan. They had a .437 points percentage (25-34-12) and finished 15th of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference. They have failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past three seasons.
Ottawa averaged 2.68 goals per game during the regular season, tied for 24th in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and was 30th in goals-against per game at 3.35. It was last on the power play (14.2 percent) and tied for 28th with the Nashville Predators on the penalty kill (76.1 percent).
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