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2020 NHL Mock Draft Roundup: Plenty to Choose for the New Jersey Devils

With the New Jersey Devils owning three first round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, they have a lot of options to decide. To help clarify those options, this post rounded up 18 mock draft to figure out who should be expected to be there at each selection.

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Alexander Holtz (center) is the popular pick for the Devils at #7.

In just a few days, the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft will be held remotely. Who knows what exactly will happen beyond the first overall pick. Between free agency beginning a week from today and most teams having more time than normal to analyze the 2020 draft class, there could be a lot of action that would normally not happen in a draft. The first round is of crucial importance for the New Jersey Devils. They have the seventh, eighteenth, and twentieth overall picks and a new GM in Tom Fitzgerald, who was the team’s assistant GM since 2015. Could the picks be moved? Is it possible. For players or other picks? It is unknown. Will it happen? Who knows. All we can do is speculate, guess, and hope - and if the picks are kept, then the question changes: Who will they pick?

To try to get a handle on that last question, I like to look at mock drafts. While very few mock drafts are anywhere close to accurate, I find them to be a good way to prepare yourself for what could happen at the actual draft. Reading more of them from different sources provides you with a pool of potential prospects who could become Devils at the NHL Draft. In the case of 2017 and 2019, they provided some level of confidence of who the Devils would take at first overall. I can tell you that this year’s picks will not be so straight forward. By their very position, whoever is selected in front of them will directly impact who is available at their selection. The goal of this exercise is not to identify a consensus pick at each position, but to get a sense of the names expected to be called on October 6.

As is tradition, which keeps our balance, I searched through and identified as many mock drafts as I could as of the evening of October 1. Not rankings of prospects, which is a different thing. These are actual mock drafts that take the teams in the draft into some account. Unlike previous years, I could only find 18 mock drafts that were made within this past month and accurate to the order of picks through to the Devils’ third pick at twentieth overall. Due to the Stanley Cup Finals having finished earlier on Monday and the 2020 NHL Draft being held on this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, there are a number of places that have not performed or published a mock draft just yet. Some of the usual suspects of previous years are going to have theirs come out right before the draft (e.g. Sportsnet) if at all. Still, 18 different opinions from professionals to fans like you and me should be enough to get the sense of who could be picked when is time for the Devils to make a selection. Assuming they keep all three of their picks and in their current positions, of course.

By the way, our own site-internal NHL mock draft of the first round went up yesterday and the results of the SB Nation NHL Mock Draft are coming out over the next few days. I have kept them separate from the roundup as I want to highlight other people’s opinions rather than our own.

2020 NHL First Round Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #3 - #7

2020 NHL Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #3 - #7

Mock Draft Mock Date Ottawa (#3) Detroit (#4) Ottawa (#5) Anaheim (#6) Devils (#7) Link
Mock Draft Mock Date Ottawa (#3) Detroit (#4) Ottawa (#5) Anaheim (#6) Devils (#7) Link
The Draft Analyst (Guide) - Steve Kournianos ($) 09/02/2020 Stutzle Rossi Sanderson Drysdale Holtz Link ($)
OHL Prospects - Brock Otten 09/27/2020 Byfield Perfetti Sanderson Drysdale Raymond Link
Draft Site 09/30/2020 Stutzle Perfetti Raymond Drysdale Holtz Link
My NHL Draft 09/28/2020 Stutzle Rossi Raymond Drysdale Holtz Link
Hockeybuzz Community 09/29/2020 Stutzle Rossi Perfetti Lundell Holtz Link
Puck Prose - Dave Stevenson 09/22/2020 Stutzle Perfetti Raymond Drysdale Rossi Link
The Athletic - NHL Staff ($) 09/21/2020 Byfield Perfetti Raymond Drysdale Rossi Link ($)
Mile High Hockey 09/23/2020 Byfield Perfetti Raymond Drysdale Rossi Link
The Manitoban - Isaiah Wagner 09/08/2020 Stutzle Drysdale Rossi Perfetti Raymond Link
The Hockey Guy 09/12/2020 Byfield Raymond Drysdale Rossi Perfetti Link
TacTixHD 09/24/2020 Stutzle Rossi Raymond Drysdale Holtz Link - Ryan Dittrick 09/23/2020 Stutzle Perfetti Drysdale Rossi Raymond Link - Alex Medina 09/22/2020 Byfield Rossi Raymond Drysdale Holtz Link - Torie Peterson 09/21/2020 Stutzle Perfetti Rossi Raymond Drysdale Link
The Hockey News - Ryan Kennedy 09/30/2020 Stutzle Perfetti Askarov Raymond Sanderson Link
SvenskaFans - Niclas Viberg 09/30/2020 Stutzle Raymond Drysdale Rossi Holtz Link
The Hockey Writers 10/01/2020 Stutzle Rossi Raymond Holtz Drysdale Link
The Athletic - Corey Pronman ($) 10/01/2020 Byfield Perfetti Sanderson Drysdale Raymond Link ($)

For the seventh overall pick, the winner by a plurality is Alexander Holtz. He was taken seventh overall in 7 out of the 18 mock drafts I found. Lucas Raymond edged Marco Rossi for second place with 4 selections to Rossi’s 3. Jamie Drysdale - who was a popular pick to go right before New Jersey - was picked in two mock drafts. Cole Perfetti and Jake Sanderson rounded out the Devils’ #7 picks with one each.

What is curious to me was who I did not see. Despite the growing hype for Yaroslav Askarov, who is now a starting goaltender in the KHL at age 18 on one of their biggest teams in SKA St. Petersburg, he was rarely picked in the top seven among these mock drafts. Maybe he will get more attention for mock drafts yet to come out, but it is a sign to me that various people are not comfortable with Askarov being a high pick. More relevant to our favorite team, Askarov was available in 17 of these mock drafts for New Jersey and none of those 17 thinks New Jersey would take him. I would take any expectations that New Jersey will go for Askarov with a grain of salt.

The other name whose stock has risen with the additional time to prepare for this draft is defenseman Jake Sanderson. There is an argument to be made as to whether he is actually the best defenseman in this draft class and not Drysdale. I like Sanderson, but I do not think he has the upside potential to be the leading minute-taking, do-everything-well defenseman that you would want to take in the top ten of a draft. Never mind the kind of top pairing caliber defenseman the Devils currently do not have. Corey Pronman and Ryan Kennedy were the only ones to have Sanderson go earlier than eighth - most had him in the #8 to #12 range. As they are draft experts, perhaps they know something most do not. Still, as with Askarov, it is far from a consensus that Sanderson would be New Jersey’s first pick. Therefore, I would take any expectations (fears?) that NJ will take Sanderson first with a second grain of salt.

It is more likely that the Devils will have their pick of future scoring forwards with a great amount of talent - and take one of them. We picked Rossi in our internal mock draft. This round up dampened my hopes of that happening. Perfetti was not nearly as popular as I thought for NJ, but half of the mocks also have him going to Detroit at ninth overall. The decision may come down to Holtz and Raymond assuming Rossi, Perfetti, and Drysdale are all gone by New Jersey’s pick. I prefer Raymond a bit more than Holtz, but I would be happy either way. In general, the expectation should be that whoever is remaining from Rossi, Perfetti, Raymond, and Holtz will likely be the Devils’ first pick in 2020.

One other aside: third overall was a real toss up between Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle. Ottawa scout Trent Mann has already tipped the team’s hand by revealing that Ottawa will likely take whoever Los Angeles does not take between those two. The mocks reflect the reality of the first three picks being known. Short of a massive surprise, you can expect the real fun to begin with Detroit at fourth overall.

2020 NHL First Round Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #16 - #20

2020 NHL Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #16 - #20

Mock Draft Mock Date Montreal (#16) Chicago (#17) Devils (#18) Calgary (#19) Devils (#20) Link
Mock Draft Mock Date Montreal (#16) Chicago (#17) Devils (#18) Calgary (#19) Devils (#20) Link
The Draft Analyst (Guide) - Steve Kournianos ($) 09/02/2020 Reichel Amirov Gunler Schneider Guhle Link ($)
OHL Prospects - Brock Otten 09/27/2020 Mercer Lapierre Lundell Brisson Amirov Link
Draft Site 09/30/2020 Lapierre Holloway Perrerault Zary Guhle Link
My NHL Draft 09/28/2020 Amirov Mysak Schneider Holloway Zary Link
Hockeybuzz 09/29/2020 Lapierre Holloway Guhle Schneider Perreault Link
Puck Prose - Dave Stevenson 09/22/2020 Zary Bourque Wallinder Schneider Lapierre Link
The Athletic - NHL Staff ($) 09/21/2020 Lapierre Mercer Zary Schneider Guhle Link ($)
Mile High Hockey 09/23/2020 Lapierre Mercer Schneider Guhle Poirier Link
The Manitoban - Isaiah Wagner 09/08/2020 Mercer Zary Gunler Amirov Holloway Link
The Hockey Guy 09/12/2020 Bourque Lapierre Guhle Zary Peterka Link
TacTixHD 09/24/2020 Lapierre Jarvis Gunler Zary Guhle Link - Ryan Dittrick 09/23/2020 Schnedier Amirov Holloway Bourque Perreault Link - Alex Medina 09/22/2020 Amirov Holloway Zary Gunler Guhle Link - Torie Peterson 09/21/2020 Holloway Amirov Zary Gunler Guhle Link
The Hockey News - Ryan Kennedy 09/30/2020 Holloway Bourque Amirov Wallinder Lapierre Link
SvenskaFans - Niclas Viberg 10/01/2020 Mercer Schneider Guhle Wallinder Foerster Link
The Hockey Writers 10/01/2020 Zary Gunler Bourque Holloway Reichel Link
The Athletic - Corey Pronman ($) 10/01/2020 Guhle Mercer Schneider Lapierre Zary Link ($)

As one would expect, the middle of the draft is fairly wide open among the various mock drafts I found. What was common among all 18 was that it was likely that the Devils would use their second or third first round pick on a defenseman. Seven of the 18 mocks have the Devils taking a defenseman at eighteenth overall; three each for Kaiden Guhle and Braden Schneider with one selecting William Wallinder. Another seven of the 18 mocks have the Devils taking a defenseman at twentieth overall. Curiously, six of those seven went right for Guhle. The one that did not was the Mile High Hockey mock draft, who have the Devils take two defensemen with those two picks. Although one may argue Jeremie Poirier is not much of a defenseman. Still, what that means is that out of all eighteen mock drafts in this round up, fifteen of them believe the Devils will take a defender. Those who want to see the Devils take a defenseman should be encouraged by that sentiment. They should also expect it to be Guhle, who was the most popular defenseman selected to go to New Jersey.

As far as that non-defenseman to be picked, it will be a forward. Askarov did not make it to sixteenth overall in all of these mock drafts. I am sorry for those who are hoping he falls to New Jersey at eighteenth or twentieth overall. There were enough common names to develop a group to expect. At eighteenth overall, Noel Gunlar and Connor Zary were each picked in three of them. The remainder was one mock selection each for Rodion Amirov, Anton Lundell (to Brock Otten’s credit, he thinks him falling that far would be a surprise) Jacob Perreault, Dylan Holloway, and Mavrik Bourque. For the mocks that did not have the Devils take a forward, many of those players were picked in this range such as Amirov, Holloway, and Zary.

The forward pool at twentieth overall is a little wider. In addition to Zary, Perreault, Holloway, and Amirov, there were two mocks calling Hendrix Lapierre for New Jersey, which would be a huge risk if that were to happen in real life. The people at SvenskaFans must be really big fans of Tyson Foerster. I think it is a reach but this is the part of the draft where reaches may not be so deep at the end of the day. Two mocks call for a German pick: The Hockey Guy believes John-Jason Peterka could go to NJ at #20 whereas Ryan Kennedy thinks it will be Lukas Reichel. The most common name regardless of position is still Guhle. But it does go to show that there are plenty of directions for the Devils to go with if they choose a forward with their third first round pick. It is something we can expect to happen if they do go with a defenseman at eighteenth; again, only one out of the eighteen mock drafts have the Devils double-dipping on defense with these two selections.

I will emphasize how surprised I was to see Hendrix Lapierre was all over these mock drafts at this range. I suppose his recent exhibition appearances and the added time off were enough to convince people that he is healthy. I also think with Montreal picking at sixteenth overall, there is a temptation for the team to take a risk on a potentially highly-skilled French Canadian player. (Think of the reaction of Louis Leblanc pick about said temptation.) But I like to think it is more of the former as half of these mocks think Lapierre will be picked in this 16 to 20 range. The nature of his past concussions and neck injuries are still a big red flag in my mind. As the major junior leagues in Canada have not returned to full action yet, Lapierre being able to handle the physical rigors at the QMJHL level is still a big question mark. I can and do respect the talent, but he is too much of a wild card for me. So I am surprised that it is not an off the board idea that he goes in the top twenty of this year’s draft.

Beyond the First Round

Most of the eighteen mock drafts I looked through focused on the first round only. However, there were a couple that went above and beyond. The Devils do not have a second round pick in 2020 as of this writing, so Steve Kournianos’ mock draft from his guide (Aside: Consider buying the guide. It is well worth the money I spent on it.) and the MyNHLDraft mock draft does not have much meaning beyond the three first rounders. However, the Devils do have a third rounder, two fourth rounders, and a pick each in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. Two mock drafts on this list went all the way through all seven rounds and I want to highlight who they picked for New Jersey. Again, this is just to get an idea of some names that could be there:

DraftSite - Seven Round Mock by Bill Placzek - Link

DraftSite has the Devils going with Holtz, Perreault, and Guhle in the first round. That trio consists of two excellent shooting wingers and a solid defenseman. Not bad. This is supplemented by defenseman Eamon Powell the third round, overage goalie Nico Daws and center Matthew Gleason in the fourth round, left winger Joel Maatta in the fifth round, center Theodore Neiderbach in the sixth round, and left winger Emil Heineman in the seventh round. I like these other selections as a whole. I think Powell and Neiderbach are worthy third round picks, so the Devils getting Neiderbach in the sixth would be a very shrewd pick. The recently Annual Goaltender Selection would be for Daws, who had an awesome 2019-20 season. He was named the OHL’s best goaltender and was the main man in the net for Canada’s gold medal World Junior Championship winning team. If there is a goalie to go out and get in the middle of the draft, then that is someone I think is worth taking a chance on.

Corey Pronman at The Athletic ($) - Seven Round Mock - Link ($)

Corey Pronman has been a big name on the public side of NHL draft prospects for a while. He is an analyst I respect and trust. When he does a seven round mock draft, I take the time to go through it. I know full well he took the time to make all 216 player selections (Remember: Arizona’s second rounder is forfeit.) For the first round, Pronman has the Devils taking Raymond, Schneider, and Zary. That is also a fine trio with those picks. Beyond them, Pronman has the Devils taking goaltender Calle Clang in the third round, left winger Landon Swaggert and center Matteo Costantini in the fourth round, right winger Cameron Butler in the fifth round, left winger Oskar Magnusson in the sixth round, and defenseman Marc-Antoine Pepin in the seventh round. Everyone is usually throwing darts by the mid third round and onward in the NHL Draft. That said, I think I would prefer Samuel Hlavaj over Clang. Likewise, I think Costantini - a center from the OJHL - is going to be a fairly long project as player. He is going to the BCHL next season and then the University of North Dakota after then. Should he need all four years, then he’s hitting the pros at 24. I think such a player could be swung on later. I also think the Devils would tend to lean more European than just one selection - Magnusson - in the later rounds based on the past few drafts. That said, I respect the work Pronman put into a full league-wide mock draft.

Your Turn

One more thing: You do not need to settle for these mock drafts alone. You can make your own. This is the Internet. The best (and worst) thing about it is that you can have your say about just about anything on it. I only highlighted these 18, but there is nothing stopping you from going to social media, making your own video, your favorite forum, or even list your own mock draft in a Fanpost or in the comments to this post at All About the Jersey. Do not let your dreams be dreams. And I recommend using a very easy-to-use tool to make your own mock draft.

The fine people at FC Hockey (formerly known as Future Considerations) have re-vamped their site and included a new interactive section. One of them is a Mock Draft Builder. Using FC’s rankings, you can create your own mock draft for any (or even all) of the 31 NHL teams for this year and past years. You can do a mock draft for one to all seven rounds. Whoever you do not draft for will be picked by the builder program, but they will make picks to reflect the nature of a draft. At the end, the builder provides a list you can easily share through a link to show off you who picked and explain why you could not pick who you wanted. It is a fun tool to play round with. I recommend it.

I hope you enjoyed this year’s mock draft roundup. Hopefully there will be a more normal schedule for 2021 and, therefore, more mocks being available a few days before that year’s draft. In the meantime, let us discuss these. The closest consensus I can figure out is that the Devils will likely take a scoring forward at seventh overall (among Holtz, Raymond, Perfetti, and Rossi) and a defenseman with either of their other two first round picks (likely to be Guhle). What did you learn from the mock drafts rounded up for this year’s draft? Were there any you especially liked? Did it help your expectations for the actual 2020 NHL Draft that will take place next week? What are your expectations for the Devils and other teams picking around the Devils’ spot? Were there any good mock drafts published after this post goes up? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this year’s mock draft round up in the comments.

Thanks to everyone who published a mock draft as of the evening of October 1. Thanks in advance to those who plan to make a mock draft; it is not an easy task and I respect putting your take out there for people to read and react to. Thank you for reading.