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NHL Draft

Top prospects eligible for 2020 Draft

Lafreniere, Byfield, Holtz lead list according to NHL.com's Mike Morreale

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Mike Morreale has covered the NHL Draft and NHL prospects for the past 10 years. He provides an early look at the top 31 prospects for the 2020 NHL Draft, which will take place at Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26-27. 

Alexis Lafreniere is No. 1 in the inaugural NHL.com ranking of the top prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.

The left wing, who plays for Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is expected to receive an A rating on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary Players to Watch List to be released Monday.

Lafreniere has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in seven games this season after scoring 105 points (37 goals, 68 assists) in 61 games with Rimouski last season. 

He could be the third player from the QMJHL chosen No. 1 in the NHL Draft in the past eight years. Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (2013; Halifax) and New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier (2017; Halifax) are the others. 

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby was the last Rimouski player to be selected No. 1 (2005).

Here are NHL.com's top 31 prospects eligible for the 2020 draft: 

1. Alexis Lafreniere (6-foot-1, 196 pounds), F, Rimouski (QMJHL) -- An incredible playmaker with great vision and accurate shot. He was named the QMJHL's most valuable player last season.

2. Quinton Byfield (6-4, 215), F, Sudbury (OHL) -- The left-handed center can skate well for his size and has an exceptional skill set. Byfield had 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) in 64 games last season in the Ontario Hockey League and was named 2019 Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year.

3. Alexander Holtz (5-11, 192), F, Djurgarden (SWE) -- A true goal-scorer with a great selection of shots, the right wing plays a tough, intelligent game. Holtz, who had 47 points (30 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games for the Djurgarden junior team, will likely join Raymond at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

4. Lucas Raymond (5-11, 170), F, Frolunda (SWE) -- An explosive skater with smooth hands and a nose for the net, the right wing had two goals in 10 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League last season and will likely play a role for Sweden at the 2020 WJC. 

5. Cole Perfetti (5-10, 177), F, Saginaw (OHL) -- A skilled forward with high hockey IQ and competitiveness, Perfetti helped Canada to a second-place finish at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in five games.

6. Yaroslav Askarov (6-3, 176), G, SKA-St. Petersburg (RUS) -- An intimidating presence in net with great athleticism and a quick glove. He led Russia to second place at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship and to first place at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, finishing with a 1.25 goals-against average and .960 save percentage in four games there. 

7. Jamie Drysdale (5-11, 172), D, Erie (OHL) -- A two-way defenseman capable of driving play with his skating and elite hockey sense. Drysdale had 40 points (seven goals, 33 assists) in 63 games last season to set an Erie record for points by a rookie defenseman.

8. Anton Lundell (6-1, 185), F, HIFK (FIN) -- A two-way center capable of reading the play well. He had 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 38 games in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, last season.

9. Marco Rossi (5-9, 183), F, Ottawa (OHL) -- The Austria-born left-handed shot is tough in his own end and possesses a high hockey IQ and good hands. The 18-year-old center is one of the draft's oldest first-year eligible players; he was born eight days after the Sept. 15 cutoff.

10. Hendrix Lapierre (5-11, 179), F, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) -- The center offers great hockey sense, competitiveness and playmaking qualities. Lapierre may have the highest ceiling of any player projected to go in the first round. He won QMJHL offensive rookie of the year after finishing with 45 points (13 goals, 32 assists) in 48 games last season.

11. Justin Barron (6-1, 195), D, Halifax (QMJHL) -- A fantastic skater who can make an impact in all three zones.

12. Dylan Holloway (6-0, 192), F, Wisconsin (NCAA) -- A complete center who has a great skill set, hands, competitiveness and drive to create offense.

13. Kaiden Guhle (6-2, 188), D, Prince Albert (WHL) -- A two-way defenseman with good skating skills, a hard shot and imposing size.

14. Will Cuylle (6-2, 204), F, Windsor (OHL) -- A power left wing who is relentless in getting to the tough areas of the ice with high hockey IQ and a strong shot.

15. Tim Stutzle (5-11, 165), F, Mannheim (DEL) -- An offensive-minded center who can play all situations with good speed, intelligence and instincts.

16. Braden Schneider (6-2, 202), D, Brandon (WHL) -- A hard-skating, two-way right-handed shot with great competitiveness and hockey IQ.

17. Jeremie Poirier (6-0, 199), D, Saint John (QMJHL) -- An offensive defenseman with good puck skills and hockey sense.

18. Jake Sanderson (6-1, 186), D, USA U-18 (NTDP) -- A mobile, puck-moving left-handed shot with elite skating ability and work ethic. Committed to the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.

19. Jean-Luc Foudy (5-11, 174), F, Windsor (OHL) -- A center who has the speed, puck control and playmaking ability to excel at the next level. 

20. Justin Sourdif (5-11, 173), F, Vancouver (WHL) -- A two-way forward with good vision and competitiveness.

21. Rodion Amirov (6-0, 167), F, Ufa 2 (RUS) -- Skilled left wing with good speed and hockey IQ who can play in all situations.

22. Noel Gunler (6-1, 176), F, Lulea (SWE) -- The right wing has good passing skills and shot selection. 

23. Antonio Stranges (5-10, 172), F, London (OHL) -- A left wing with fantastic edgework, unique skills and good offensive upside.

24. Jacob Perreault (5-11, 200), F, Sarnia (OHL) -- The versatile right wing, who is the son of former NHL forward Yanic Perreault, possesses one of the best shots of this draft class. 

25. Ty Smilanic (6-1, 170), F, USA U-18 (NTDP) -- The left-handed center offers elite speed and has a solid work ethic. He's been compared to Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin.

26. Vasili Ponomaryov (5-10, 178), F, Shawinigan (QMJHL) -- The Russia-born center reads the game well. He is quick and dangerous with the puck on his stick.

27. Daemon Hunt (6-0, 198), D, Moose Jaw (WHL) -- A two-way defenseman who plays a good team game, is smart, physical and works hard.

28. Alexander Pashin (5-8, 154), F, Tolpar Ufa (RUS) -- A strong puck handler, goal-scorer and underrated playmaker as a right wing.

29. Shakir Mukhamadullin (6-3, 178), D, Yulaev Ufa (RUS) -- He moves and skates well for a player his size. 

30. Lukas Cormier (5-9, 167), D, Charlottetown (QMJHL) -- Possesses a smooth stride, great acceleration and superior hand-eye coordination with the puck on his stick.

31. Mavrik Bourque (5-10, 168), F, Shawinigan (QMJHL) -- The right-handed center is a good passer, possesses a good shot and excels defensively.

 

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