In the history of All About the Jersey, we tend to focus a lot of attention on prospects and the NHL Draft. We’ve done prospect profiles based on the information we can find. We discuss potential picks on podcasts. We round up mock drafts from all around the Internet, and participate in the site’s mock draft. We have done and will do those other things as well. This year, we decided to do something new. As the New Jersey Devils have been idle since March and they have three first round picks, we decided to try to have a mock draft amongst ourselves for the first round of the the 2020 NHL Draft.
The way we did this mock draft was that Brian would make the selections for the non-Devils teams. Brian follows the team’s prospects and others more closely than anyone else at AAtJ, so that was a logical choice. When it came time to pick the seventh, eighteenth, and twentieth overall pick, the whole staff was asked to make their own choices for each pick. The prospect with the most writers selecting them would then be the pick. Everyone contributed a little bit of commentary to justify their selection, which you will see for the players that were picked. For the sake of simplicity, we did not trade anyone’s picks in this mock. Will some teams move up or down in real life? Possibly. But it did not happen when this mock first round was put together.
I want to thank all of the writers who contributed to this mock draft. I especially want to thank Brian for his tremendous help to make this mock draft possible. About 90% of it is his work. Without further ado, here is the All About the Jersey Mock Draft for the First Round of the 2020 NHL Draft. (Links in the player’s names goes to our prospect profile on the player if we did one for them.)
Lafreniere is the clear top prospect in the draft and I think it’s a very easy decision for the Rangers to select him. Sure, they could use a center over another winger so some may argue for Quinton Byfield here, but I think Lafreniere is clearly the better prospect. They won’t overthink this one and will select the a potential franchise player.
The Kings have one of the best prospect systems in the NHL which includes quality prospects at center. The question becomes do they select Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle at this spot? Stutzle has really made a push for the second spot and some scouting outlets either rank him ahead of Byfield or have him mocked to be selected ahead of Byfield. Ultimately, I think the Kings go with Byfield as the mobile, 6’4”, 215 lbs. center has all-star potential as a two-way center with high end offensive capabilities and the ability to contribute on both the PP and PK. This will allow them to continue to rebuild their team with quality down the middle.
The Senators have done a solid job at re-stocking their prospect pool and will be looking to add some serious talent with two selections in the top 5 this year. With Lafreniere and Byfield off the board, I think they will go with Tim Stutzle. The left wing has high end offensive potential and has already shown he can compete against men in Germany’s top league. His above average to elite skating, vision, and hands all make him an intriguing option for a rebuilding Senators organization.
The Red Wings have plenty of options at this spot, but I think they go with Lucas Raymond, a playmaking left wing with high end offensive potential thanks to his elite puck skills and above average vision. Raymond has already proven to be a dominant player when playing against his peers at the junior level and is coming off of a season where he produced well in a limited role against men in Sweden’s top league.
5. Ottawa Senators - D Jamie Drysdale (Erie - OHL)
The Senators will have a tough decision to make with their second pick in the top 5. Do they take the best defenseman in the draft in Jamie Drysdale? Do they target one of the top OHL forwards in Cole Perfetti or Marco Rossi? There is also the talented forward Alexander Holtz from Sweden. In this scenario, I have them selecting Jamie Drysdale, the top defenseman in this draft. This allows them to add a stud prospect on the blue line. By adding Stutzle and Drysdale, the Senators have improved the quality and depth of the forwards and defensemen in their prospect pool with their opening two picks.
With Drysdale off the board, the Ducks have an interesting decision to make. Do they take Jake Sanderson who is regarded as the next best defenseman after Drysdale? Or do they take one of the top forwards available in Alexander Holtz, Marco Rossi, or Cole Perfetti? I can see them going a number of ways but in this scenario I think they take Alexander Holtz.
7. New Jersey Devils - C Marco Rossi (Ottawa - OHL)
The staff pick was Marco Rossi. Here are selected quotes from those who selected him for seventh overall:
“It pretty much boils down to this: Rossi’s production holds up with that of any skater in this draft. In an NHL that progressively values skill more and more over size, it’s getting harder to ignore someone so convincingly dominant among their peers, regardless of if they are undersized.”
“If Marco Rossi is still on the board at No. 7, Tom Fitzgerald should run, not walk, to the podium to make this pick and grab that scoring and defensive ability and potentially solidify the team’s lineup down the middle long-term.”
“With both of the Swedes gone, Marco Rossi is the pick here. He scored an unreal amount of points for Ottawa this past season, and he legitimately carried the team to its first place standing before the shutdown. He plays both ends of the ice, is a PP plus, and has a strong head on his shoulders. Imagine having Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Marco Rossi as your top 3 centers.”
“If things shake out as projected here in the top six selections, the Devils should avoid overthinking it and walk up and select the CHL’s top scorer in 2019-20, Marco Rossi. Rossi is a dominant force as a facilitator and scorer and is in no way one-dimensional, with a willingness to play a 200-foot game and the smarts to be effective at both ends. He would give the Devils a truly formidable trio down the middle.”
“Assuming Jamie Drysdale and Lucas Raymond are off the board by the time the Devils are on the clock, Marco Rossi is the best choice the Devils can make. He was a ridiculous producer for the best OHL team this past season and his apparent ability to also contribute defensively is a plus. Drafting Rossi would also allow the Devils to move Pavel Zacha permanently to wing and give the Devils a pretty insane group of centers.”
“In my opinion, this pick comes down to either Marco Rossi or Cole Perfetti. I would be happy with either but definitely favor Rossi since I feel like he has higher potential. Rossi has the vision, hockey sense, passing ability, and puck-handling skills that make him a potential elite NHL playmaker. He’s impressed scouts for already playing a “pro style” game due to his poise, competitiveness, and maturity. It’s that poise that allows him to make plays in tight and distribute the puck in all directions to create opportunities. His skating allows him to play an effective 200 foot game and he’s proven to be a goal scoring threat down low in the offensive zone. This is the type of center that could excel in all situations and be an important member of a team’s core for years to come. “
“Imagine Brayden Point. Now imagine if he can play better in both ends of the rink, he can play in all situations, he is a stronger skater at age 18, and he was the main reason why the [Ottawa] 67s were the best team in the OHL last season. Mr. Fitzgerald, please do not overthink this. Please take Marco Rossi, watch the Devils forward group become frightening for other teams to play against, and you will not regret it for the next 10-15 years. Do not repeat the mistake of 2014.”
Rossi comes off the board right before the Sabres pick, but I think Buffalo is thrilled to select Perfetti at this spot. There may be some question about whether he stays at center at the NHL level but there is no questioning his top level skill and high end potential. This forward is an elite playmaker with a dangerous shot to go with it.
I think Askarov is a wildcard in what should be a wide open draft after the first three picks. In this scenario, with Drysdale and a lot of the top forwards off the board, I see Minnesota taking a gamble on the talented Russian goaltender with a top ten pick. The Wild need a goaltender that they can build around, and while goalies are risky, I think Askarov is worth that risk for them.
The Jets could really use a top defensive prospect to add to their prospect pool and I think getting arguably the second best defenseman in the draft at this spot is a win for them. Sanderson is large, mobile, physical, and intelligent. He may lack the offensive upside of Drysdale, but Sanderson could become an elite shutdown defender at the NHL level if he reaches his potential.
I think this pick comes down to Seth Jarvis vs. Jack Quinn. Ultimately, I think Nashville goes with Jarvis due to his excellent speed, skill, and vision. Quinn is a great goal scoring threat but was also on a stacked Ottawa team. Jarvis thrived while leading the way for Portland. In my opinion, Jarvis is the more complete player.
I think Florida looks to take one of the top centers left at this spot. To me that comes down to either Dawson Mercer, Connor Zary, or Anton Lundell. Out of this group, I think they will go with Mercer due to his high end puck skills and ability to make plays in tight areas due to his quick decision making. He is also a player that competes well and kills penalties effectively.
Carolina takes a chance on Zary here as his hockey sense, compete level, and playmaking skills project to Zary becoming a potential star player at the next level. His skating is a concern, which has some scouts be concerned on his ability to translate his game to the NHL level. However, Carolina seems like the type of team that would want to gamble on him putting it all together and developing into a force down the middle.
The Oilers are content to add some quality and depth on the left side of their forward group by taking the projectionable Amirov. Some scouts feel that he already has NHL talent and just needs to fill out his frame to be able to play at the top level. I think grabbing a forward like Amirov at this spot could represent great value for Edmonton.
Toronto keeps it in Ontario by selecting one of the best snipers in this year’s draft class. Perreault has perhaps the best shot in this draft class, can make plays with the puck, and can pull off some highlight reel passes. Some scouts critique his compete level, but I think if you can get a player of his skill and potential midway into the first round, you do it.
Quinn falls to 16 in this mock draft, and that is more of a testament to the amount of high quality forward prospects available in this year’s draft than his potential. I think Montreal is thrilled to get a player that put up 52 goals in 62 games for the CHL’s best team last season. The Canadiens need to add wingers in this draft. With Quinn, they will get a player that has quick hands, excellent vision, and an admirable compete level.
Lundell is another player who may go top ten in a weaker class, but finds himself as a mid-1st pick in a deep forward class. I think Chicago would be ecstatic to get a two-way center that has excellent hockey sense and vision to make plays both offensively and defensively. Lundell has already played two full seasons for HIFK in Liiga so he’s used to competing against men. Impressively he’s already produced 47 points in 82 games at Finland’s top level thanks to his sneaky wrist shot and sound fundamentals.
18. New Jersey Devils - RW Noel Gunler (Luleå HF - SHL)
The staff pick was Noel Gunler. Here are selected quotes from those who selected him for eighteenth overall:
“Gunler is what the Devils need: a scorer. The kid has an absolutely wicked shot, both slap and wrist. He is not the best defender, but he is an underrated passer and has room to improve on his playmaking. However, the Devils have good playmakers; the team needs more scorers. And that, for sure, is what Gunler is. He’s had 60 games of SHL experience, which is huge for development, and is also a specimen at 6’2”. Put him on the right side alongside Jack Hughes and let them go to work.”
“The Devils should grab Gunler and his quality shot here. He has some size and is playing in a pro league as a teenager, which is encouraging, and by all accounts seems to have a good nose for the offensive side of the game.”
“Normally I would say do not overthink it and just take the best possible player available, but with the amount of first round picks the Devils have, I think this is one of the situations you look a little deeper and draft for what you need. The Devils have a lot of good center options and wings with great two-way playing abilities. I’m sure we’re going to take the best player available with the seventh overall pick. What the Devils need to look for is someone to pull the trigger. Hughes and Hischier are both extremely talented playmakers, we have a lot of playmaking and supportive wing options, but they need someone to finish. Palmieri is our only shooter and we don’t have a ton of shooters in our system beyond Nolan Foote. Gunler is widely considered a stunner of a shot and though he’s not a perfect 200 foot player, that can be built on and he’s a well rounded force in the offensive zone. He would be a great choice to fill in some gaps in the Devils talent pool.”
“When he hasn’t been at the top level of hockey in Sweden, he’s been tearing up the top junior league, the SuperElit. He was a full time player for Lulea in the SHL in his draft year which is very impressive. Gunler is considered to be one of the most gifted goal scorers in this year’s draft and the potential of having him play next to Nico Hischier or Jack Hughes in the future is enticing. His wrist shot has been described as elite by Hockey Prospect in their 2020 Black Book. He is able to make use of it by anticipating the play to get into soft ice to create goals. Gunler has great vision and is able to set up his teammates with his passing skills, thus making defenses have to respect all areas of his offensive game. Gunler needs to bulk up and work on his defense but for the time being is able to be an effective forecheker due to his high hockey sense. At 6’2” he has a solid frame to fill out and should be a lot more confident playing against men over the next couple of years. It was noted by scouts in the Hockey Prospect Black Book that Gunler is a hard worker on and off the ice and often had to be dragged off the ice by Luleå to force him to rest. I think the Devils would be fortunate to get a highly skilled player like Gunler at #18 considering his skill and potential.”
I have the Flames going defenseman with this pick. Schneider is an appealing option because he’s a big, mobile, right handed defenseman that plays an effective physical game. He can make big hits without losing position and defend well one-on-one with excellent gap control. I have seen him ranked and mocked over Drysdale and Sanderson depending on the outlet so there are certainly a fair amount of people in the scouting community that like his potential.
20. New Jersey Devils - D Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert - WHL)
The staff pick was Kaiden Guhle. Here are selected quotes from those who selected him for twentieth overall:
“I opted to go with Guhle because he’s a big (6’3”, 188 lbs.), mobile defenseman who proved that he could succeed when challenged. He went from the 3rd pair in his draft-1 year with Prince Albert to the top pair last season, where he played in all situations for about 25 to 30 minutes per game. Defensively, he has sound vision and spatial awareness which allows him to use his active stick to break up zone entries and shut down opposing PP’s. He was one of the best defenders in the WHL last season. He possesses a quality first pass to break pucks out of his zone and when an option doesn’t exist, he’s more than capable at skating it out himself with possession. In the offensive zone, he’s able to utilize a quick wrist shot and strong slap shot to get pucks on the net. He’s able to activate and pinch in to keep plays alive. A lot of scouts think his offense could be limited at the professional level, but I think his defensive and puck moving abilities make him a quality prospect.
“In this mock, with two forwards being taken, I feel the pick should move to a defender if at all possible. If the team feels there’s a forward who is head and shoulders better than a d-man, then grab him, but if they are close, you have to take the defender here. No one really has Guhle as becoming a top pairing d-man one day, but most think he is a true NHL prospect with a high floor who can definitely become a second pairing guy. The Devils could absolutely use that. He is better defensively, but is not inept offensively either. I also tend to favor WHL prospects personally, and honestly, 40 points in 64 games as a defender in the WHL is quality output.”
“He seems like a good skater, and I like the way he approaches one-on-one situations. He can be aggressive but controlled, and mixes the use of his body and stick well. I think this will be good for the Devils, as he can break up a budding play and smoothly turn play in the right direction if he gets the puck on his stick. His team was amazing defensively this season, and I think it has a lot to do with him. To see if this perception was correct, I looked at Mitch Brown’s CHL percentile tool. Guhle was in the 90-95 percentile range in break-ups, carry-in against relative percentage, and entry prevention relative percentage. His controlled exits per 60 were only average, though - but his success rate was above average. Regardless, I think his defense around the blue line and in the neutral zone will be a huge help when he reaches the NHL. After watching his video I came away thinking he can be a 15-30 point guy in the NHL (possibly with as many goals as assists - most of which will be secondary), but his defense is good enough to make up for it.”
21. Columbus Blue Jackets - D William Wallinder (MODO Hockey J20 - SuperElit)
I think Columbus is looking to add a defenseman here and I can see them going with a home run-type pick in Wallinder. He has a pro size frame, is an exceptional skater, and has showcased plenty of skill at the junior level. There are questions if he can translate these skills over against men, but his potential is likely to make someone take a chance on him in the 1st round.
22. New York Rangers - C Ridly Greig (Brandon - WHL)
I have the Rangers adding some quality and depth at the center position with this pick. Greig is a very hard working, tenacious center with excellent hockey sense and backs that up with above average skills and skating.
23. Philadelphia Flyers - RW Sam Colangelo (Chicago - USHL)
I think Sam Colangelo is one of those prospects that some teams will have ranked in the 1st round and others perhaps into the 3rd round. He was a big part of the Chicago Steel program which is highly respected. I think the Flyers take a chance that the power forward could develop into a force at the professional level. He’s certainly an interesting project pick with high upside.
24. Washington Capitals - C Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan - QMJHL)
I have Mavrik Bourque going to Washington here as they look to add a forward with high end offensive skill and potential. He possesses good hands, is able to make flashy plays with the puck, and has excellent vision. There’s value in taking him here from a Capitals perspective.
25. Colorado Avalanche - C Marat Khusnutdinov (SKA-1946 - MHL)
I also think Marat Khusnutdinov is another prospect that could vary widely from NHL draft board to NHL draft board. I have Colorado taking a chance on his high skill and upside with this late first round pick. His creativity, vision, and improvisation could be too much to pass up at this spot.
26. St. Louis Blues - D Helge Grans (Malmo - SHL)
The Blues take a chance on the big and mobile Swedish defenseman here. His understanding of the game needs a lot of work but he already has plus skating, compete level, and decent skills to back it up. He’s a project but could pan out in the Blues favor to provide great value at this spot.
27. Anaheim Ducks - C Dylan Holloway (Wisconsin - NCAA)
With Anaheim grabbing a sniper in Alexander Holtz earlier in this mock, I have them adding another forward, but with a different profile. He falls a bit in this mock as I have seen him ranked and mocked higher elsewhere, but I think Anaheim would be attracted to his versatility and ability to complement his linemates. Plus, he can play either at center or on the wing which would help their depth.
28. Ottawa Senators - C Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi - QMJHL)
There is no denying that Lapierre is one of the most talented prospects in this draft class. His health issues are a major concern though. I think Ottawa, after having two top-five picks, uses their final first round selection on the skilled center. If he can stay healthy and realize his potential, it could be a major addition to their system.
29. Vegas Golden Knights - D Justin Barron (Halifax - QMJHL)
I think Vegas jumps on a player that though has some high risk, could also come with high reward. Barron had an injury riddled draft season and his offensive skills and hockey IQ haven’t been the most promising, though some scouts seem to think he has another level he’s capable of reaching. Barron is an excellent skater and could develop into a mobile top-four defender at his best.
30. Dallas Stars - LW Lukas Reichel (Eisbaren Berlin - DEL)
I have Dallas adding a forward this late in the first round as there are still a few options worth exploring. I went with Reichel because he’s already proven himself against men in Germany’s top league. His skating, hockey sense, and skills are very projectable to the professional ranks in North America and I think he would be a welcome addition to the Stars organization.
31. San Jose Sharks - C Jan Mysak (HC Litvinov/Hamilton - Czech/OHL)
I have the Sharks taking a chance on Jan Mysak who played in the top league in the Czech Republic before making a successful transition to the OHL with Hamilton. Mysak is a well rounded center who has showcased his skills at both the league and international levels. Scouts seem to be split on him, but I think taking him with the final pick of the first round could work well for the Sharks.
Thank you again to all of the writers who contributed to this mock draft and, again, special thanks to Brian for putting the bulk of this mock draft together. Now that you read through our mock draft of the first round for the 2020 NHL Draft, what do you think of it? What did you think we got right? What did we get wrong? Would you be happy the Devils coming away with Rossi, Gunler, and Guhle from the first round next Tuesday? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this mock draft in the comments. Tomorrow will be another annual tradition with mock drafts, so please look out for that. Thank you for reading.