It’s time for my second installment of 2020 draft rankings, with a decided emphasis on the world junior results. While one tournament does not make or break a prospect, it can have an influence - but usually in a positive sense, like Nico Hischier back in 2017. It’s hard to ding kids too hard if they didn’t have a big WJC since it’s traditionally a tournament for 19-year-olds and on deep teams like Canada, you take the roles given to you. So long story short, I’m still very high on Quinton Byfield.
Elsewhere, you’ll notice some very different names from my first ranking in the fall, as one would expect. I still believe a lot is in flux right now and the second half will go a long way in determining the middle of the first round in particular. With that being said, let’s get to the rankings.
1. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL): Talk about putting a stamp on a tournament. Despite getting injured in the middle, Lafreniere was named MVP of the world juniors thanks to his incredible performance for Canada. The competitive left winger lit up the scoresheet and dominated with his physical play, proving he’s the type of player who simply will not be denied on the ice.
2. Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL): Sure, Byfield didn’t have much of an impact in Ostrava, but let’s not forget he’s also 10 months younger than Lafreniere. The pull with Byfield is the potential he has. The big center is already super-skilled and he’s only going to get stronger in the coming years. Byfield is already one of the most dangerous players in the OHL; let’s not forget how impressive that is at 17, too.
3. Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL): He was a surprise to make the roster, but Canada was fortunate that Drysdale opened their eyes. When Bowen Byram was too sick to play in the semifinal, it was Drysdale stepping in to play big minutes and show off his incredible combination of smarts and skating prowess. He has always been the top defenseman available in the draft class – now we have to wonder just how high he’ll go overall.
4. Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (Swe.): Another player who was very impressive at the world juniors, Raymond was electric with the puck on his stick and showed well for the bronze-medal Swedes. Once again he had great chemistry with fellow Terror Twin Alex Holtz, but I felt that Raymond put a bit of distance between himself and Holtz.
5. Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Fin.): He missed the tournament due to an elbow injury, but Lundell is one of the top centers in the draft class and that counts for something. Back in Finland, he is playing very well against men and we did see his great two-way potential at last year’s WJC when he helped the Finns win gold in Vancouver.
6. Tim Stutzle, C, Mannheim (DEL): Even though Germany had to play in the relegation round, I thought Stutzle and his draft-eligible linemates J.J. Peterka and Lukas Reichel made a collective statement at the world juniors. Stutzle is fast, talented, patient with the puck and he can run a power play. He missed the last two games against Kazakhstan with an illness and I have to wonder if the Germans would have swept with him in the lineup.
7. Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgarden (Swe.): Right now, Holtz has some of the best offensive tools in the class, led off by his rocket shot and his great anticipation. I could see him going even higher thanks to his potential, though his buddy Raymond is more complete right now. Holtz also showed well at the world juniors for Sweden.
8. Cole Perfetti, LW, Saginaw (OHL): Consider it a feather in Perfetti’s cap that he got an invite to Canada’s December WJC camp, even though he didn’t make the team. He’ll be vital to a gold-medal defense next season, for sure. One of the most prolific producers in the OHL, Perfetti has excellent vision and a great shot.
9. Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-St. Petersburg (KHL): True, Askarov clearly has some work to do after the world juniors, but let’s not forget he was a 17-year-old starter for a team that went to the gold-medal game. The fact is, his size and athleticism are huge advantages and working on his high glove hand is something that is easily achievable in the coming years.
10. Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL): You can tell me he should be higher and I won’t put up a fuss – but since Rossi is only 5-foot-9, I have him here. The NHL still has a height bias at the high end and it would be great if it ended with Rossi, the dynamic 67’s star who is leading the OHL in scoring. He plays the game the right way and has great details.
11. Dylan Holloway, C, University of Wisconsin (BigTen)
12. Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL)
13. Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
14. Zion Nybeck, RW, HV 71 (Swe.)
15. Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Salavat (KHL)
16. Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
17. Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL)
18. Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL)
19. JJ Peterka, RW, Munich (DEL)
20. Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (Swe.)
21. Jan Mysak, C, Hamilton (OHL)
22. Vasily Ponomarev, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
23. Dawson Mercer, RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
24. Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL)
25. Jack Quinn, C, Ottawa (OHL)
26. Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (Rus.)
27. Emil Andrae, D, HV 71
28. Brendan Brisson, LW, Chicago (USHL)
29. Lukas Reichel, LW, Berlin (DEL)
30. Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
31. Simon Kubicek, D, Seattle (WHL)
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