There will be a 2020 NHL Draft. It’s just unknown exactly when.
The NHL postponed the draft, which was scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal, earlier this week because of the coronavirus outbreak.
There was no makeup date announced, given the uncertainty over the balance of the regular season and playoffs.
One thing we do know for sure, though, is that the Detroit Red Wings will pick very high in the first round of the NHL Draft.
They had already clinched having the NHL’s worst record way before the league shut down.
Given the draft lottery current rules, the Wings would have an 18.5-percent chance — the best odds — of landing the No. 1 overall pick. Ottawa, though, has its own pick and San Jose’s pick, the second and third overall.
The worst the Wings can do is fourth overall.
With that in mind, here’s my first “Big Board” for the 2020 NHL Draft — my top players ranked 1-25 irrespective of projected draft order.
Ted Kulfan’s Big Board
1. Alexis Lafreniere, Rimouski (QMJHL) left wing, 6-foot-1, 192-pounds — Lafreniere has been projected as the top pick in this draft for almost two to three years. He’s a generational type of player, with few warts in his game. Lafreniere had 112 points (77 assists) in 52 games this season.
2. Quinton Byfield, Sudbury (OHL), C, 6-4, 214 — Teams salivate whenever they see a player with this type of size and skill. Byfield is a tremendous playmaker who can dominate shifts either physically, or by stickhandling through defenders.
3. Tim Stutzle, Mannheim (Germany), LW, 6-0, 165 — The Wings would not be disappointed at all to combine Stutzle with Moritz Seider in the organization for the future. Stutzle isn’t physically big, but he plays big, is extremely competitive, and has the skills to play center in the future.
4. Jamie Drysdale, Erie (OHL), D, 5-11, 165 — Don’t be scared off by the size. Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes aren’t giants either, and look how good they’ve been. Nobody is saying Drysdale is that caliber yet, but he’s the same type of player. Elite skater, best defenseman in this class.
5. Alexander Holtz, Djurgarden (Sweden), RW, 6-0, 180 — Just a pure goal-scorer, who has scored goals at every level he’s played. Holtz has a big shot but can find people on the ice, too, as he’s a prolific passer. Has played well against men in Sweden.
6. Lucas Raymond, Frolunda (Sweden), LW, 5-11, 165 — Scouts love Raymond’s vision on the ice, his ability to distribute the puck, and though he doesn’t look to shoot first, his shot is impressive. There is a bit of a concern, though, with his lack of burst and overall speed.
7. Marco Rossi, Ottawa (OHL), C, 5-9, 179 — The lack of size makes you a bit nervous but shouldn’t. Rossi dominated offensively and plays with a pace and energy that is difficult to duplicate. An exciting player who makes things happen.
8. Yaroslav Askarov, SKA (Russia), G, 6-3, 175 — It’s not often a goaltender gets talked about this high in a draft, but Askarov is one of those unique talents. Askarov wasn’t good in the world junior tournament, but that’s the only hiccup on an otherwise brilliant resume.
9. Cole Perfetti, Saginaw (OHL), LW, 5-10, 185 — There are no doubts about Perfetti’s abilities with the puck. His playmaking his exceptional, among the best in this draft class. What possibly knocks Perfetti from the top three or four prospects is his lack of explosive speed.
10. Jake Sanderson, USNTDP, D, 6-1, 185 — Sanderson’s stock has increased as the season progressed, and was MVP of the All-American prospects game. One of those prospects where he does everything well, although not great in any area.
11. Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin (NCAA), C, 6-1, 192 — Holloway didn’t have the type of season many analysts envisioned in the Big Ten, but he remains an intriguing prospect who has posted big offensive numbers. Probably more of a No. 2 center than No. 1.
12. Anton Lundell, HIFK-Liiga (Finland), C, 6-1, 185 — Lundell has shown to put points on the board at every level, and has played well against men in Finland this season. Some scouts are wary about his lack of speed, but he’s overcome it everywhere he’s been.
13. Connor Zary, Kamloops (WHL), C, 6-0, 175 — Zary had a dynamic season, putting up big offensive numbers and playing fearlessly. His skating isn’t prolific, though, and in today’s game that’s a minus.
14. Jacob Perreault, Sarnia (OHL), RW, 5-11, 200 — Perreault has shown the ability to put the puck in the net, and he may have one of the best shots in this draft class. But can he do other things other than just shoot the puck hard?
15. Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi (QMJHL), C, 6-0, 172 — A heady two-way center, who has exceptional offensive instincts and seems to make the right pass, or right play, say many scouts. The downside? Needs to fill out physically, and doesn’t have high-end speed.
16. Seth Jarvis, Portland (WHL), C, 5-10, 170 — He’s not big physically and Jarvis doesn’t stand out remarkably in any specific area. But he scores, he’s consistently produced points at every level, and is very good in the defensive end.
17. Braden Schneider, Brandon (WHL), D, 6-2, 209 — Finally, another defenseman. Schneider is further ahead defensively than offensively, but that’s fine, because he’s defensive ability is well thought of. He’s a guy capable of playing in a team’s top four.
18. Jack Quinn, Ottawa (OHL), C, 6-1, 176 — Interesting player in that Quinn has made major strides in his game as the season has progressed. Maybe not an elite skater, but the other parts of his game have consistently improved.
19. Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi (QMJHL), C, 6-0, 170— Expectations were high coming into the season, but injuries and lack of production have hurt his stock. The skill is still there, so there’s intrigue. But concussions are a concern, too.
20. Justin Barron, Halifax (QMJHL), D, 6-2, 190 — A fine two-way player with some size, who has been held back with injuries this season, including a blood clot. Good skater, who can handle the puck and is dependable defensively.
21. Thomas Bordeleau, USNTDP, C, 5-9, 179 — Another player with not big size, but makes up for it big time with his offensive ability. Bordeleau’s playmaking is outstanding, and he’s extremely dangerous on the power play.
22. Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert (WHL), D, 6-3, 190 — Guhle has the size and grades out well on many intangibles, but his offensive ability lags a bit compared to the top defensemen in this draft class.
23. Lukas Reichel, Berlin (Germany), LW, 6-0, 180 — Another teenager who has held his own playing in a German men’s league and has shown flashes of being a consistent offensive player. The type of player who’d be a steal in the second round.
24. Ty Smilanic, USNTDP, C, 6-1, 185 — Smilanic could be switched to wing in the pros, where he can better utilize a high-powered shot. He knows how to find openings on the ice. Needs to develop defensively.
25. Jeremie Poirier, Saint John (QMJHL), D, 6-0, 190 — Poirier is one of those young defensemen who has shown exceptional offensive ability — he’s extremely dangerous off the rush and has a big shot — but he’s lacking on defense right now.