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DRAFT: Top Defensive Prospects in the 2020 NHL Draft

Learn more about some of the top defensemen available at the 2020 NHL Draft

by Staff /

The Blackhawks have a stout prospect pool on defense, but could another top name be enticing for a first-round pick? 

We started looking at he top prospects by position available in the draft with the top forwards on the board, and now move to the highest-ranked defensemen in the final NHL Central Scouting prospect rankings.

Here are the top six North American defensemen and four European defensemen, names that could be available when the Blackhawks are on the clock at No. 17:


1. Jamie Drysdale, D (Erie - OHL)

"I see a player who has command and confidence in every situation. He has the potential to be a top-pairing defenseman at the NHL level." - Craig Button, TSN

"He's one of the best skaters in the draft. He has very good speed and can lead a rush at the higher level … He's so good at evading pressure, and walking the blue line with his crossovers and spinning off checks." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

2. Jake Sanderson, D (U-18 - USNTDP)

"A natural-born leader who was just starting to show a more potent offensive side to his game before the shutdown." - Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet

"The son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson is a mobile puck-mover with a dominant defensive mindset and steadily improving offensive game." - Mike Morreale,

3. Kaiden Guhle, D (Prince Albert - WHL)

"Has experienced the perfect developmental curve in having to earn his chops as a youngster, and then progressing to big minutes in his second season. Excellent skater with a serious mean streak to his game." - Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet

"Plays big minutes at a high pace and has proven to be effective in all areas of the ice. He's regarded as a two-way defenseman with good skating, a hard shot and imposing size." - Mike Morreale,

4. Braden Schneider, D (Brandon - WHL)

"A 6-foot-2, right-handed defenseman who can skate well. He can rush pucks and close gaps well. Schneider moves the puck very well out of the defensive zone, showing great vision and patience on his outlets. He defends well due to his feet, but also doesn't shy away from playing the body." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

"A right-handed shot and two-way player capable of playing the power play and penalty kill with great competitiveness and smarts, he's a more physically developed prospect and finishes checks with authority in all areas of the ice." - Mike Morreale,

5. Justin Barron, D (Halifax - QMJHL)

"Barron is a fantastic skater who can lead a rush and close a gap very well, and he projects to be able to handle the NHL speed easily. When he hooks the net and is able to rush with speed, he's very difficult to stop with his size." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

"As one of the top skaters and mobile defenders in this draft class, he's destined to play top four minutes for a number of years." - Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet

6. Jeremie Poirier, D (St. John - QMJHL)

"He has extremely quick hands and ability to beat opponents easily with his skill. Poirier is a good skater, too, and plays with pace. He is often flying around the ice, stick handling through checks and is easy to spot." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

"A high-end offensive defenseman with good puck skills, hockey sense and game-breaking ability, Poirier has great edgework and can process the game well under pressure." - Mike Morreale,


1. Helge Grans, D (Malmo Jr. - SWE)

"He's a true transition manipulator, drawing in the F1 and tearing apart the rest of the forechecking structure with deceptive precision passing. An always-in-the-rush mentality and an improving defensive game." - Mitch Brown,

"He's not overly physical but offers good vision and understanding of the game, can move and can transition the puck well." - Mike Morreale,

2. Topi Niemela, D (Karpat - Liiga)

"He's a very smart puck-mover who makes a lot of clever zone exits. He has good mobility and skill to evade pressure and make some plays in open ice, but his brain drives his value." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

"The right-handed shot offers a calming presence in all situations and plays a simple, effective game." - Mike Morreale,

3. William Wallinder, D (Modo Jr. - SWE)

"Excellent mobility for his size (6-foot-4). Shows poise and patience in his decision making." - Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet

"The left-shot defenseman, who has a style similar to Travis Sanheim of the Philadelphia Flyers, is at his best in the defensive zone but showed an improving offensive game by joining the rush and getting the puck to the net." - Mike Morreale,

4. Emil Andrae, D (HV 71 Jr. - SWE)

"He has the hands to make crafty 1-on-1 plays off the rush, and at the offensive blue line he shows no hesitancy to walk the line and make skilled plays … Andrae isn't that big, but he plays hard, closing well on checks and using his body to separate pucks." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

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