With the NHL Draft Lottery just days away, the New Jersey Devils have a 7.5 percent chance at claiming the top billing.
On Monday, TSN Hockey's Insider Bob McKenzie released his final draft rankings for the 2020 entry draft, in late-January he released his mid-season rankings. McKenzie spends time talking with coaches, scouts and others involved in hockey to compile his yearly list.
With little surprise, Canadian Alexis Lafreniere is ranked in the top spot. He's a late birthday, so nearly a year older than the rest in the draft and has played three full years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, McKenzie points out his elite hockey sense, creativity and competitiveness and he was named CHL player of the year in back-to-back seasons.
If Lafreniere is selected first overall, he will be the first Canadian selected with the top pick for the first time since Connor McDavid in 2015 by the Oilers. He would also be the first Quebec-born skater selected first overall since Vincent Lecavalier in 1999.
Lafreniere had 112 points in 52 games.
At number two, a player who has been climbing the rankings since the beginning of the season. Tim Stutzle, the German-born player who plays for Mannheim of the German Hockey League, jumped one spot from McKenzie's mid-season rankings into the second spot. McKenzie made note of Stutzle being a 'dynamic and exciting guy who commands the puck."
Quinton Byfield moves down a spot for third. Byfield had 82 points in 45 games for the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League.
To round out the top five, Jamie Drysdale remains in the fourth spot, the first defenseman on the list. Center and left-wing Cole Perfetti makes the biggest jump, moving from eighth in the mid-season rank to number five.
Swedish-born Lucas Raymond moves down a spot into sixth, a player TSN describes as to having a Mitch Marner-like style to his play. Austrian center and left-wing Marco Rossi remains at seven, and is the first European scoring champion in OHL history.
At eight, defenseman Jake Sanderson moves up a spot while Swede Alexander Holtz moves down three at nine.
Rounding out the Top 10 is Jack Quinn of the Ottawa 67s, who made the biggest jump from January to June, a whopping nine spots from 19th. McKenzie referred to Quinn as the "best pure goal scorer in the 2020 Draft." He had 52 goals in 62 games this past season.
A Few Notes:
- Eighteen of the Top 31 are Canadian-born.
- Three prospects in TSN's Top 31 are from Germany
- Only two Americans crack the Top 31, down from the 2019 draft's 10
- Only six of the Top 31 are defensemen, and only one goaltender is ranked to be selected in the first round.
There is a chance, in this deep draft, that the Devils will have three selections in the first 31 picks. In two trades made over the course of the 2019-20 regular season, the Devils acquired two additional first-round picks, in addition to their own. The two picks, from the trade with Arizona for Taylor Hall and Vancouver's pick, via Tampa Bay for Blake Coleman, are conditional and could be moved to the 2021 NHL Draft.
For the Arizona pick:
- BEST CASE SCENARIO: Arizona loses in the qualifying round and does not win a top-three pick in the Lottery giving the Devils the pick this year (between slots 8-13).
- WORST CASE SCENARIO: Arizona advancing to the Conference Finals in the 2020 playoffs (moving the pick to slots 28-31).
For the Vancouver Pick:
- POSITIVE SCENARIOS: Vancouver wins a qualifying round and loses in first round means the Devils get this year's first round pick. If they lose the play-in round, the Devils get unprotected in 2021. Both have valuable possibilities depending on what happens in 2021.
- WORST CASE SCENARIO: The Canucks advancing to the Conference Finals in the 2020 playoffs (moving the pick to slots 28-31).