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NHL Draft

Mock 2020 NHL Draft: Lafreniere to Rangers, Wild get No. 9 pick

New York owns No. 1 choice after Second Phase of Lottery; Minnesota could take goalie @NHLdotcom

Following the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday, writers Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Guillaume Lepage make their predictions for how the first 15 selections of the 2020 NHL Draft could turn out.

The New York Rangers won the No. 1 pick in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday.  

Three writers agree the Rangers will select forward Alexis Lafreniere of Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Their opinions vary widely on what could happen after that.

The order of selection used for this mock draft was set after the Second Phase of the lottery, during which the eight teams that lost in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers each had a 12.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. After the Rangers won, the seven remaining teams were ordered based on regular-season points percentage, starting with the Minnesota Wild, the lowest, at No. 9.

The First Phase of the lottery, held June 26, set the order for picks 2-8 after a placeholder team won the No. 1 pick.

The only team playing in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a lottery pick is the Carolina Hurricanes, who own the Toronto Maple Leafs' selection at No. 13 from the trade of forward Patrick Marleau on June 22, 2019.

The Maple Leafs will have a lottery pick after acquiring the No. 15 selection from the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the trade for forward Kasperi Kapanen on Aug. 25.

The remainder of the first round will be finalized following the playoffs.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually Oct. 9-10. It was postponed from its initial date of June 26-27 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

1. New York Rangers

Kimelman -- Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL): Elite puck skills, high-end decision-making and a physical edge make the 18-year-old forward (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) an easy decision for the Rangers. Yes, they have Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider on the left side already, but Lafreniere is too talented to pass on, and having too much depth with skill is a good problem. Lafreniere should be able to step into a significant role with the Rangers next season.

Morreale -- Lafreniere: He will challenge for a role on a team already full of offensive weapons. Lafreniere led all players in the Canadian Hockey League (QMJHL, Ontario Hockey League, 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 relentlessness and willingness to play a hard game and finish checks; that will bode well for him in the Metropolitan Division.

Lepage -- Lafreniere: With 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games, his MVP award while helping Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship and his second straight CHL Player of the Year award, Lafreniere lived up to all the expectations this season and proved himself to be a cut above his fellow prospects.

2. Los Angeles Kings

Kimelman -- Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL): Byfield has everything a rebuilding team is looking for -- great size (6-4, 215), skill and tremendous skating ability. The 17-year-old said he has been focusing on getting stronger since his season ended, with the goal of being able to handle physical play in the NHL next season. Byfield has the look of a franchise center the Kings will be able to build around with veterans Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter each advancing into the later stage of his NHL career.

Morreale -- Byfield: The left-shot center is a powerful skater with breakaway speed and an exceptional skill set. He had 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 45 games this season.

Lepage -- Tim Stuetzle, LW, Mannheim (DEL):  The Kings have made a concerted effort to find dynamic, creative forwards at the draft the past few years, including Rasmus Kupari (No. 20, 2018), Akil Thomas (No. 51, 2018) and Alex Turcotte (No. 5, 2019). With his impressive vision and hockey IQ, Stuetzle, the rookie of the year in Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top pro league, fits that mold.

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)

Kimelman -- Stuetzle: The 18-year-old's mature game allowed him to earn a significant role on one of the top teams in the DEL, and that experience against more developed competition should help him make a quicker 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-handed shooter capable of playing all situations with speed, great vision and swagger. He scored 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) and had 132 shots on goal in 41 games this season.

Lepage -- Byfield: Even though they already have several promising forward prospects, the Senators can't afford to overlook Byfield. The imposing center is an excellent skater and a dangerous scorer who 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 competitive level reminiscent of Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux. Rossi led all CHL players with 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in 56 games. He willingly goes to the net to produce offense, and his high hockey IQ makes him a solid two-way player who can kill penalties.

Morreale -- Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL): Drysdale might be the best defenseman available in the draft. The 5-11, 175-pound right-handed shot is capable of driving play with his skating and elite hockey sense.

Lepage -- Rossi: The 18-year-old may give up a few inches to his opponents but still dominated this season. He would be a key addition to the Red Wings' rebuilding effort at forward. 

5. Ottawa Senators

Kimelman -- Drysdale: After taking a top forward, the Senators can opt here for the best defenseman in the draft. The 18-year-old is a complete player, able to skate the puck out of his zone and lead the breakout or smartly and accurately pass the puck up the ice.

Morreale -- Rossi: The Austria-born left-shot forward averaged 2.14 points per game, second in the CHL behind Lafreniere. He is capable of winning puck battles, is strong on face-offs (58.5 winning percentage) and generates offense with his high hockey IQ, good hands and playmaking ability.

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 Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom and Drysdale, Ottawa's future at the position appears to be in good hands for years to come.

6. Anaheim Ducks

Kimelman -- Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL): As much as Perfetti's skill level stands out, it's his smarts and high hockey IQ that allow the 18-year-old left-shot forward (5-10, 177) to always be in the right spot in all three zones. Perfetti doesn't have the flash of other players in the draft, but he does everything well.

Morreale -- Perfetti: A skilled forward with a high hockey IQ, compete and a great release on his shot. Perfetti was second in the OHL with 111 points (37 goals, 74 assists) in 61 games.

Lepage -- Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL): The Ducks have focused on forwards early in the draft during the past few years and Raymond (5-11, 170) has a wide range of offensive skills that could be reason to add one more. With his silky hands and unrivaled vision, he could reignite the Anaheim offense within a few seasons.

7. New Jersey Devils

Kimelman -- Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SHL): 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 18-and-under players in the Swedish Hockey League in points (16) and tied for the lead in goals (nine).

Morreale -- Raymond: The 18-year-old plays a strong two-way game with excellent vision, intensity, a good wrist shot and a nose for the net, and he's a tremendous asset on the power play and penalty kill.

Lepage -- Holtz: 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 offensive attack.

8. Buffalo Sabres

Kimelman -- Raymond: The Sabres need creative, skilled offensive players and Raymond is among the craftiest forwards in this year's draft. Raymond has a high hockey IQ that helps him offensively and makes him reliable defensively. He scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) but averaged 9:48 of ice time in 33 SHL games. 

Morreale -- Holtz: A pure goal-scorer with a great selection of shots, Holtz plays a tough, intelligent game. He had 55 shots on goal and averaged 12:53 of ice time in 35 games in the SHL this season.

Lepage -- Perfetti: He isn't the biggest player but is 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, 2014) and Jack Eichel (No. 2, 2015). Buffalo shouldn't pass on a center with Perfetti's well-rounded skill set.

9. Minnesota Wild

Kimelman -- Iaroslav Askarov, G, Neva St. Petersburg (RUS-2): Wild general manager Bill Guerin said improvements are needed at goalie, and Askarov (6-3, 176) has the potential to develop into a franchise player. His inconsistent play for Russia at the IIHF World Junior Championship was a blip during an outstanding development path. He has the size NHL teams look for, and scouts like his strength in the crease, his quickness and the way he reads plays. 

Morreale -- Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (FIN): A two-way left-shot forward, Lundell (6-1, 185) can protect the puck extremely well and finds teammates in traffic. He scored 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and had 162 shots on goal while averaging 15:49 of ice time in 44 games in Liiga, Finland's top pro league.

Lepage -- Lundell: The Wild need to start thinking about who could replace Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu as their top centers. Lundell could be a player who fills that role. Lundell is one of the most complete centers in this year's draft class.

10. Winnipeg Jets

Kimelman -- Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18 (NTDP): Depth at defenseman was a problem for the Jets this season, but Sanderson (6-1, 185) could play a big role in providing it. He's an outstanding skater whose game got better as the season went on. Sanderson's defensive play already is strong, and his offensive game is catching up quickly. He also was captain of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program U-17 and U-18 teams, which shows the respect he's earned from his coaches and teammates.

Morreale -- Sanderson: Sanderson is a mobile, puck-moving, left-shot defenseman who defends with aggression and passion. He scored 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 47 games and is committed to play at the University of North Dakota next season.

Lepage -- Sanderson: The imposing defenseman is as capable of running the power play as he is at shutting down opposing forwards, and he fits perfectly the style of defenseman sought by the Jets.

11. Nashville Predators

Kimelman -- Lundell: He is regarded as one of the best two-way players available in the draft, and he already has experience playing against men in Liiga. He has the size, smarts and skill set to play in the NHL as soon as next season.

Morreale -- Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL): The forward (6-0, 176) was second in the OHL with 52 goals and tied for eighth with 89 points in 62 games. Seven other OHL players have scored at least 50 goals in their NHL draft season since 2000-01: 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 scoring issues during the past few seasons, and they need a prospect who can come in and be a difference-maker. Quinn is one of two players who scored at least 50 goals in the Ontario Hockey League this season, along with Maple Leafs rookie forward Nicholas Robertson (55). He certainly would add a bit of punch to the lineup.

12. Florida Panthers

Kimelman -- Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert, WHL: Guhle's skating allows him to excel in any kind of game, from up-tempo and attacking to grinding and physical. He's strong enough to use his body (6-2, 186) to punish opposing forwards. His offensive game took a big step this season, and those who have watched him closely believe there will be more to come in the future.

Morreale -- Guhle: He's a two-way defenseman who's considered a good skater with a hard shot. Guhle is a great value with tremendous upside at this point in the draft. He scored 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games.

Lepage -- Dawson Mercer, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL): The forward (6-0, 180) does everything well. He can play in the middle or on the wing and should provide a boost on special teams. His versatility would be beneficial to the Panthers, who need to add depth behind Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on the top line. Mercer scored 60 combined points (24 goals, 36 assists) in 42 games with Drummondville and Chicoutimi this season.

13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)

Kimelman -- Quinn: Quinn's 52 goals in 62 games place him among the best pure goal-scorers in this year's draft. His skating got better as the season went on, and he's confident it will continue to improve as he gets better off-ice training at the pro level. He is already strong enough to win battles along the wall and is tough to knock off the puck. The Hurricanes are rich in young forwards, but they can't pass on a chance to add a sniper of Quinn's ability.

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 a .920 save percentage in 18 games in Russia's second division.

Lepage -- Askarov: The Hurricanes have all the necessary tools to be successful for seasons to come on offense and defense. Selecting Askarov would give Carolina a foundational piece in goal.

14. Edmonton Oilers

Kimelman -- Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL): Jarvis' game is built around his speed and dynamic offensive skills. After a slow start to the season, Jarvis (5-10, 175) 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: A smart, skilled right-hand shot who executes with pace and excels as a penalty killer. Jarvis was second in the WHL with 98 points (42 goals, 56 assists) in 58 games.

Lepage -- Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin (BIG10): The Oilers often are criticized for not having enough offensive depth behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Holloway (6-1, 200) is a powerful center with high offensive potential and is an outstanding skater. He scored 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 35 games as an 18-year-old freshman at Wisconsin. 

15. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh Penguins)

Kimelman -- Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL): The Maple Leafs continue to stockpile good young defensemen. Schneider (6-2, 202) brings a physical element with a developing offensive side. He still needs time to grow his game, but it might be not be too long before he's ready to make an impact in the NHL. He has a chance to join a defenseman group in Toronto that could include 2017 first-round pick Timothy Liljegren (No. 17) and 2018 first-round pick Rasmus Sandin (No. 29).

Morreale -- Schneider: A two-way, right-shot defenseman capable of playing the power play and the penalty kill with great competitiveness and smarts. Schneider scored 42 points (seven goals, 35 assists) in 60 WHL games.

Lepage -- Guhle: With the offensive depth the Maple Leafs have at forward, it would benefit them to look to add some talent at defenseman. Sandin and Liljegren are coming along well, and Guhle would only add more offensive upside to their prospect pool at the position.



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