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DNVR NHL Mock Draft 1.0: Initial impressions

AJ Haefele Avatar
May 16, 2020

As we here at DNVR continue to delve into the 2020 draft class, it’s only natural we take a stab at trying to predict how these things might actually go.

For the draft order, we used the points percentage when play was stopped and ignored conditions on traded draft picks. As these things get clearer in the future, we will do additional mock drafts with a clarified order.

Rudo took the odd picks and AJ selected the evens with their reasoning below each selection.

1. Detroit –  Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

Rudo: Lafreniere has led this draft class from the beginning and threatens to be a generational talent at the NHL level to the point where any team not completely desperate for a center will be taking him at one.

2. Ottawa – Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)

AJ: Byfield is a stud. Ottawa still needs that high-end talent in order to complete its rapid rebuild. Byfield has the size and skill to be a superstar if he can smooth out his issues with consistency.

3. Ottawa (from SJ) – Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL)

Rudo: Outside of the big two, Raymond is the most complete forward in the class with elite vision and passing on the offensive side. As a wing and a smaller player, he is the perfect one-two punch pick alongside Byfield for Ottawa.

4. Los Angeles – Tim Stutzle, LW, Adler Mannheim (DEL)

AJ: I love Stutzle’s talent level. The Kings already have a stacked system and Stutzle is the just the rich getting richer. The Kings are building something big out there and this guy could help take them to the next level.

5. Anaheim – Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)

Rudo: The highest-rated defenseman in the class, Drysdale really shouldn’t fall beyond five or six. Anaheim has consistently drafted and produced high-end defensemen and has plenty of room to add another with all of the players they have shipped off that blue line.

6. New Jersey – Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (SHL)

AJ: Was really hoping to see Drysdale drop here but with him gone, the Devils are in a weird spot. They’ve taken two centers first overall in the last three years so Perfetti and Rossi aren’t great fits here. That leaves Holtz, one of the draft’s best shooters and a guy who would fit perfectly next to either Hischier or Hughes as a goal-scoring machine from those two distributors.

7. Buffalo – Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL)

Rudo: Buffalo is in an excellent position to let the draft come to them this year. Whoever is left at seven pretty much becomes a slam dunk pick for them. Even with Eichel as the one C Perfetti is just too talented to pass up at seven. With Drysdale as the only defenseman locked into the top-10 range, The BPA on Buffalos board is going to be a forward.

8. Montreal – Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)

AJ: Montreal continues to need center help and this has unfolded perfectly for them. They took a goal-scoring wing last year in Cole Caufield and Rossi is coming off a year where he blossomed next to an excellent shooter in the guy taken with the next pick. This is a dream for the Habs.

9. Chicago – Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

Rudo: The Blackhawks have shown in the past they are willing to commit to guys like DeBrincat when it comes to pure snipers. While it’s tough to extricate Quinn’s production from Rossi’s, the rise of the sniper has been on in the draft with players like Tippet, Caufield, and even Holtz just a few picks above going in top half of the first. With 52 goals Quinn was second in the OHL beating out former first and second-round picks like Tomasino, McMichael, and Kaliyev. I’m buying on the individual ability.

10. New Jersey (from AZ) – Jake Sanderson, D, USNTDP (USHL)

AJ: I wanted Drysdale with the sixth pick but when that didn’t happen, I’m using the second selection for the Devils to take Sanderson, the second-best defenseman in this class. Sanderson’s skating and ability to push the play should play nicely next to the offensive arsenal being built up front.

11. Minnesota – Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL)

Rudo: Minnesota has been desperate for high-end center depth for a while now and Zary was the highest ceiling center left on the board. Unless someone is willing to take a shot on Zary in the top-10 this seems like an easy target for the Wild.

12. Winnipeg – Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL)

AJ: The Jets badly need defense and Schneider is a very solid all-around defender. This is a bit of a reach but they have such a need at the position that it’s worth it to overdraft him a little bit. If Schneider hits his potential as a two-way player who chews up big minutes, nobody will remember he was drafted a few spots higher than his ranking.

13. New York Rangers – Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga)

Rudo: Another team that lacks center depth the Rangers have the benefit of having Zibanejad as a true number one allowing them to pick the lower upside but much more solid Anton Lundell. As we get into the mid-first he is a player that will impact the NHL team sooner rather than later and can be extremely versatile in their third line or maybe even working up into a second-line role on both sides of the puck. Plus it adds another Finn for Kakko to play with.

14. Florida Panthers – Dawson Mercer, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

AJ: This is just the Panthers taking the best player available. They don’t need another quality forward prospect but that hasn’t stopped them in the past from just taking the best guy and moving on. That’s what they do here with the hard-working Mercer, whose strong second half propelled him into the top half of the first round.

15. Columbus Blue Jackets – Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

Rudo: Askarov’s talent just became too much to pass up on as Columbus seems like an ideal landing spot with two goalies on short term contracts and the potential starter of the two in Merzlikins being relatively unproven. Askarov as the prospect in the system puts pressure on both Columbus goalies to perform at their best. If they don’t work out Askarov is ready to swoop and if they do the Blue Jackets suddenly have a high-value trade piece.

16. Calgary Flames – Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin (NCAA)

AJ: Holloway slipped a bit from his preseason hype but the Flames stop his fall from being too precipitous. He didn’t have quite the season everyone was expecting but that was true of pretty much everyone at Wisconsin this year. The Flames go a route they’re very comfortable with selecting a college player they can wait on.

17. New Jersey (from VAN) – Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL)

Rudo: The Devils have had a back end mired with inconsistency for years now and taking two defensemen in this year’s first-round could solve that problem long term.Taking Sanderson at 10 with the offense in mind, adding Guhle as the defensive stalwart just makes sense. With their third pick in this draft, a sure-fire player to go with some top-end talent is a great draft for New Jersey.

18. Nashville Predators – Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

AJ: This is purely an upside play. If the doctors are comfortable with the concussion problems, Lapierre could be a home run for the Predators. He’s exactly the kind of dynamic, high-end talent Nashville has spent a lot of money and assets trying to bring to town and still things aren’t working out the way they hoped. Lapierre gives them another exciting young forward to follow.

19. Carolina (from TOR) – Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (KHL)

Rudo: Carolina has already put together an eclectic group of forwards and Amirov fits their style of player quite well. Intelligent and well rounded on both sides of the puck he can drop into a strong Carolina core wherever is necessary. There’s always the question of when will a player want to come over from Russia but these days, especially in the first round that is something teams, will have done their background on.

20. Edmonton – Helge Grans, D, Malmo (SHL)

AJ: I had the Oilers taking Broberg last year and I’m just copying and pasting by going with a big Swedish defenseman in Grans. Between Evan Bouchard, Broberg, and now Grans, the future of the Edmonton defense should be in good hands when these guys all land in Edmonton. Grans is the most developed defender left on the board and that gives him priority over the rest of the position group.

21. Ottawa (from NYI) – Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Rudo: The Sens have already stacked their forward corps in the short term with Byfield and Raymond but looking at the prospects they already have in the system on defense they don’t need help their either. Bourque is a solid if a bit safe forward option for them coming out of the Q which is a league Ottawa always seems to scout well.

22. Dallas – Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (SHL)

AJ: Dallas loves taking chances on high-risk, high-reward players and Gunler certainly fits that bill. A large body combined with a great shot makes him a very intriguing player. Dallas loves intriguing players.

23. New York Rangers (from CAR) – Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL)

Rudo: Having locked up a safe forward pick in the top-15, the Rangers have the agency to take a bit more of a risk with this pick on Seth Jarvis. While size is a question, a right shot and some offensive prowess scoring over 40 goals and outproducing his nearest teammate by just shy of thirty points it’s worth the risk that it can translate to the next level.

24. Minnesota (from PIT) – William Wallinder, D, Modo (SL)

AJ: The Wild use their second selection of the round on defense, a position they’ve largely ignored in the draft in recent years and will need more of in the NHL very soon. Wallinder is a big kid who skates well and fits the archetype of a modern shutdown defender as he relies on great feet to find success.

25. Philadelphia – Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John, (QMJHL)

Rudo: With the emergence of Konecny, the commitment to Kevin Hayes, and a solid year out of Joel Farabee this past season, Philly doesn’t have a ton to do on the forward side. Defense fits the bill better and with Ghostisbehere failing to show consistency on a year to year basis Poirier could step in and be the puck-moving offensive D of the future.

26. San Jose (from TBL) – Jacob Perreault, C, Sarnia (OHL)

AJ: A great shooter, Perreault is insurance in case the Sharks move on from any of their big-time goal scorers like Kane, Couture, or Meier. Perreault’s all-around game is in need of refinement but when he gets the puck, he knows how to beat goaltenders.

27. Colorado – Brendan Brisson, C, Chicago (USHL)

Rudo: With the board playing out as it did the Avs would have a hard time getting value on a defenseman in the late first. With Bowers and Kaut set to graduate in the near future the Avs are lacking a rock-solid prospect on the depth side and Brisson can fill that void. He might be a little bit on the safe side but has shown good finishing ability which is something the Avs could certainly use more of when it comes to middle-six or third line players. With no major must take talents dropping it’s reasonable to see Brisson going in this range.

AJ: Nobody will confuse the selection of Brisson with that of Alex Newhook, who had much higher offensive upside and was a sexy pick. This is much more like when the Avs selected Martin Kaut, a player whose upside is more limited but was a safer bet to translate to pro hockey in time. Brisson fits that safer mold but it’s not a knock against him – he’s a prospect who could be an impact player in Denver in a few years as he develops either at his natural center spot or eventually moves to wing. Either way, the Avalanche would be getting a strong forward prospect who can contribute in all phases of the game and it would be the third time in four years they selected a college-bound kid in the first round.


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