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NHL Draft

Mock draft: Rossi, Drysdale predicted to be picked at No. 4 after Lottery experts divided on who will go after Lafreniere, Byfield, Stuetzle @NHLdotcom

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

Alexis Lafreniere, a left wing for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, will be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, according to three writers.

After that, their opinions differ.

The order of selection used for this mock draft was based on the NHL Draft Lottery drawing Friday. The No. 1 pick belongs to an undetermined team and will be assigned by the Second Phase of the lottery, which will include the eight teams that are eliminated in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, and be held before the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Each of the eight teams will have a 12.5 percent chance to win the No. 1 pick.

The Los Angeles Kings, who had the fourth-best odds to win the lottery, will pick No. 2; followed by the Ottawa Senators at No. 3, with the pick they acquired from the San Jose Sharks as part of the trade of defenseman Erik Karlsson before the 2018-19 season.

The Senators, who also have the No. 5 pick, are the first team with two top-five selections since the New York Islanders picked No. 1 (Rick DiPietro) and No. 5 (Raffi Torres) in the 2000 NHL Draft.

The Detroit Red Wings, who had the best odds to win the lottery, will pick No. 4.

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

The 2020 NHL Draft was postponed from its initial date of June 26-27 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. A new date has yet to be announced.

1. Placeholder team

Kimelman -- Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL): Whichever team wins the No. 1 pick shouldn't need much time to make its decision. Lafreniere (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) combines elite puck skills, high-end decision-making and a physical edge. He's by far the top talent in the 2020 draft and should be able to step into a significant NHL role early next season.

Morreale -- Lafreniere: The 18-year-old 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.

Lepage -- Lafreniere: With 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games, his MVP award for 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.

Video: Alexis Lafreniere Chats With Brian Lawton


2. Los Angeles Kings

Kimelman -- Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL): Byfield has everything a rebuilding team is looking for, with 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 fits that mold.


3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)

Kimelman -- Stuetzle: The 18-year-old was rookie of the year in Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top pro league. His mature game allowed him to earn a significant role on one of the top teams in the league, 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 shot 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 and 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, 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.

Video: Top prospects on preparation for NHL Draft


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, 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 allows the 18-year-old left-shot forward (5-10, 177) to always be in the right spot in all three zones. He doesn't have the flash of other players in the draft, but does everything well.

Morreale -- Perfetti: A skilled forward with 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 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 is 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 -- Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL): The 18-year-old arguably is the best goal-scorer in the draft, with his 52 goals in 62 games second among all CHL players behind Toronto Maple Leafs forward prospect Nicholas Robertson (55). Quinn's skating got better as the season went on and he's confident it will continue to improve when he gets better off-ice training at the pro level. He's already strong enough to win most battles along the wall and is tough to knock off the puck. The Sabres have a number of strong prospects, but the chance to add someone of Quinn's ability is too much to pass up.

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.



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