Alexis Lafreniere of Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.
Central Scouting revealed its midterm rankings of the top North American and International skaters and goaltenders Monday. The 2020 Draft will be held at Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26-27.
Lafreniere, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound left wing, had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in five games and was named the most valuable player and top forward while helping Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship on Jan. 5. He missed two games with an injury to his left knee. He was the first NHL Draft-eligible player to be named MVP of the WJC since Finland forward Jesse Puljujarvi (Edmonton Oilers) in 2016.
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The 18-year-old leads the QMJHL with 70 points (23 goals, 47 assists) in 32 games.
"The performance that Alexis displayed at the World Juniors again showed the hockey world what he is made of and this is what places him in a special category as the top pick," Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "The natural competitive instincts and skills he displayed to take charge and lead Canada to victory put on display the determination, perseverance and passion that is part of his hockey DNA, which is truly exceptional and impressive."
Rounding out the top five North American skaters are four players from the Ontario Hockey League: center Quinton Byfield of Sudbury, defenseman Jamie Drysdale of Erie, center Cole Perfetti of Saginaw and center Marco Rossi of Ottawa.
Byfield (6-4, 215) is a powerful skater with breakaway speed and an exceptional skill set. He's eighth in the OHL with 58 points (23 goals, 35 assists) in 31 games. He had one assist and averaged 8:41 in ice time in seven games for Canada at the 2020 WJC.
Drysdale (5-11, 175), the projected top defenseman available in the 2020 Draft, is capable of driving play with his skating and elite hockey sense. He is 10th among OHL defensemen with 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 29 games. He had three points (one goal, two assists) and averaged 11:38 in ice time in seven games for Canada at the 2020 WJC.
"I think that Drysdale is an excellent all-around skater," Joey Tenute of NHL Central Scouting said. "His speed, mobility and agility are all top level. He gets the puck and moves ... there's no hesitation. He gets 2-3 quick steps and he's gone from pressure."
Perfetti (5-10, 177) is tied for third in the OHL with 64 points (22 goals, 42 assists) in 38 games.
"I don't really see [Byfield and Perfetti] as similar players," Tenute said. "Obviously they have top-end ability, but aside from that I think that Byfield plays a little more of a power game, which comes with his size.
"Perfetti uses his smarts all over the ice to evade pressure and checks and will kind of suck guys in, and when he does he has the ability to get guys puck-staring and find a teammate sneaking in backdoor."
Rossi (5-9, 183) is an Austria-born left-handed shot regarded for his high hockey IQ and good hands. He leads the OHL with 69 points (26 goals, 43 assists) in 29 games and has a 58.2 face-off winning percentage, seventh among OHL players with 200 face-offs.
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Dylan Holloway, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, is No. 10 on the list and the highest-ranked NCAA Division I skater. The 6-foot, 203-pound center has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 17 games.
Defenseman Jake Sanderson at No. 11 is the highest-ranked skater from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team. Sanderson (6-1, 186), the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson, is committed to the University of North Dakota for next season. He has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 31 games.
Nicolas Daws (6-3, 202) of Guelph in the OHL is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American goalies. Drew Commesso (6-1, 180) of the NTDP is No. 2.
Daws is 13-3-4 with a 2.06 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and four shutouts in 20 OHL games, and also played two games for Canada at the 2020 WJC. Commesso, committed to Boston University for next season, is 10-5-1 with a 2.21 GAA, .919 save percentage and three shutouts in 19 games.
The No. 1 International skater is left wing Tim Stuetzle (6-1, 187) of Mannheim in Germany's top professional league. Yaroslav Askarov (6-3, 176), who plays for Neva St. Petersburg in Russia's second division, is the No. 1 International goalie.
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