The 2020 NHL Draft is set to finally take place in a couple of weeks. The New Jersey Devils are poised to add a lot of talent to their organization as they set to pick at 7th, 18th, and 20th overall. In next week’s post we’ll take a look at some of the potential options for the 7th overall selection. Today’s post will focus on the prospects that have a realistic chance of being available for the Devils at 18th and 20th overall. You will notice that this post is forward heavy, that’s not to neglect defensemen but to speak to the quality and quantity of this year’s forward class.
To help come up with the group of prospects that should be available at 18th or 20th overall, I’m going to utilize Colin Cudmore’s (@CudmoreColin) “Expected Pick Range” tool. This takes rankings from over 30 sources to form a consensus on the range a prospect is expected to be selected in. You can read about his methodology on Silver Seven, SBN’s Ottawa Senators blog. You can check out his compiled rankings on this Google Sheet, and use this data viz for another view.
I’m also going to reference prospect projection models from Hockey Prospecting and GT Analytics to further take a look at these players. In terms of prospect evaluation, a lot of my opinions have been formed via draft guides such as the Hockey Prospect Black Book or Elite Prospects Draft Guide. Now let’s see which player’s are potential options for the New Jersey Devils.
Potential Available Players
In the above table, you will see the range the player is expected to go in, his name, position, 2019-20 team and league, and basic scoring stats. The last 5 columns come from the projection models from Hockey Prospecting and GT Analytics. Of course, these aren’t everything, but I do think they can help provide some context for what a prospect’s potential could be and how likely they are to reach that potential. A quick explanation of these columns:
Star% (Hockey Prospecting): Probability of a player turning into an offensive star (0.70+ Pts/GP for forwards, 0.45+ Pts/GP for defensemen).
NHLer% (Hockey Prospecting): Probability of a player turning into a NHLer (200+ games).
Here is the Hockey Prospecting Player Comparison Tool.
sNHLer% (GT Analytics): Likelihood a player reaches 150 NHL games.
pNHLppg (GT Analytics): Projected points per game at the NHL level.
Prospect Score (GT Analytics): Accounts for the probability (sNHLer%) and projected production (pNHLppg) of a prospect in one metric. You can read all about their methodology for these metrics here and search their draft rankings here.
The below sections will break these prospects down by separating the forwards and defensemen. I’ll also include a “Longshots” section of players that I think could fall or rise into range for the Devils picks at 18th and 20th overall. Finally, I note which players would be my preferred targets.
Here we have a group of 14 forwards to look at as potential picks for the Devils. Of course, quite a few of these players will be gone by the time the 18th or 20th picks are ready to be made but some of them will remain on the board. Out of this group, Hockey Prospecting is highest on the star% for Seth Jarvis, followed by Jacob Perreault, and then a group of Rodion Amirov, Dawson Mercer, and Connor Zary. In terms of playing in 200+ NHL games, Hockey Prospecting is highest on Jacob Perreault, followed by a group of Rodion Amirov, Dawson Mercer, Connor Zary, and then Seth Jarvis. Overall, the GT Analytics prospect score is highest on Seth Jarvis, followed by Connor Zary, Brendan Brisson, and Jack Quinn. The group of Dawson Mercer, Mavrik Bourque, Lukas Reichel, Jacob Perreault, and Noel Gunler isn’t too far behind Quinn. Now let’s take a look at these prospects based on where they spent their 2019-20 seasons. I included Jan Mysak in the CHL group since he came over midway through the year from the Czech Republic.
The CHL Forwards (plus a Czech)
C Seth Jarvis (Portland - WHL): Seth Jarvis is perhaps the best prospect out of these forwards and I would be surprised if he fell to the Devils. Jenna profiled Jarvis back in April and mentioned that despite his small frame, Jarvis is a highly skilled prospect. Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst praised Jarvis as “a slick and cerebral forward with excellent hands.” Justin Froese of Future Considerations noted that Jarvis is an “offensive driver and all around 200-foot player.” Jarvis seems to without a doubt be one of the top offensive players in this year’s class due to his versatile skill. If you want a player that can contribute in all three zones and make an impact, then Jarvis is your guy. One thing that I did think was interesting reading the Hockey Prospect Black Book is that numerous scouts referred to him as a winger. Perhaps that’s where his position will be at the NHL level so it’s something to keep in mind.
RW Jack Quinn (Ottawa - OHL): Chris profiled Quinn back in April, noting that the wing is a natural goal scorer. 52 goals in 62 games for Ottawa last season will certainly help that perception. Brock Otten of OHL Prospects is high on Quinn and mentioned in this post that Quinn led the OHL in even strength goals while carrying a line for Ottawa as Rossi was on a different one. Otten points out that Quinn played in all situations, was able to create his own scoring chances, and has a high level shot. Hockey Prospect was also really high on Quinn’s hockey sense, compete level, and skill. I don’t know if he’ll still be around for the Devils at 18th but if he is, he’s certainly worth a look.
C Dawson Mercer (Drummondville/Chicoutimi - QMJHL): Alex profiled Mercer back in April. The product of Newfoundland has found a lot of success in the QMJHL. Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst praised Mercer’s hockey sense, passing, playmaking ability, and elite shot in this report. Scouts in the Hockey Prospect Black Book have called Mercer one of the smartest players in the draft. It seems like he just really needs to work on his skating but has a bright future ahead of him.
C Connor Zary (Kamloops - WHL): Gerard profiled Zary back in April. He noted that Zary is a scoring center with good leadership. Zary plays in all situations due to his above average hockey sense. He has a natural goal scoring touch though his skating is a weak part of his game. Some scouts have made note that he may have to switch to the wing at the professional level because of it. Regardless, with his goal scoring and playmaking talent, he projects to have a solid chance to make it at the NHL level and make an impact. I think he will be off the board by the time the Devils select but I would definitely be interested if he slides that far.
C/LW Jan Mysak (HC Litvinov/Hamilton - Czech/OHL): CJ profiled Mysak in April, noting the the center plays like a “Coleman-style” winger. Mysak is an interesting prospect as he has already played in a men’s league in his native Czech Republic with success. He also had success when he switched over to Hamilton in the OHL last season, showing that he can play well against his peers in North America. Tony Ferrari of Dobber Prospects made note in April that Mysak thinks the game at a high level and works well with his teammates. Hockey Prospect had mixed reviews on him with some scouts thinking that he has the tools to be a scoring winger at the NHL level but they worry he may not be able to put it all together. They aren’t as high on his hockey sense as other outlets are.
C Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan - QMJHL): Chris profiled Bourque back in April. Bourque has high skill and hockey sense which makes him an intriguing option that I think has a solid chance to be around for either of the Devils picks. His coach noted that Bourque’s vision allows him to make offensive and defensive plays as well as an effective special teams player. Scouts have noted that Shawinigan’s offense ran through him and he really drove the play. His playmaking abilities don’t seem to get as much attention as they deserve considering how effective he is. I think he could be an under the radar pick as far as 1st rounders are concerned.
RW Jacob Perreault (Sarnia - OHL): Devin profiled Perreault back in April. McKeen’s Hockey praised Perreault’s speed, creativity, and goal scoring instincts. They did mention that his play in the neutral and defensive zone leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the Sarnia Sting right wing has an elite level shot, perhaps the best in this year’s class depending on who you ask. Hockey Prospect likes Perreault’s hockey sense, skill, and skating but does note that they want to see more from his compete level. I can see some teams having him high on their draft boards and others low in the 1st round. I would be thrilled if he slipped to one of the Devils picks but I’m not expecting it.
C Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi - QMJHL): John profiled Lapierre back in April, noting that the very talented playmaker is a force when he’s on the ice. Unfortunately, Lapierre has a significant injury history and missed almost all of his draft year. Lapierre has excellent hockey sense which allows him to make plays for himself and teammates. His puck handling skills are above average. He can play in all situations. There’s no doubting he’s one of the most talented players in this draft class. As I mentioned earlier, Lapierre has had concussion issues and a cervical dysfunction, so he carries a lot of risk for any team drafting him. It’s enough to scare me off though I do think he will be around for the Devils selections.
The NCAA and USHL Forwards
C/LW Dylan Holloway (Wisconsin - NCAA): Devin profiled Holloway back in April. Holloway spent his draft season playing college hockey which is a feat in itself considering how many other players his age are in the USHL. He struggled to adjust to the college game at first but finished the year strong and was a top 10 scorer for Wisconsin. Holloway split time between center and left wing with many scouts thinking he can play either position a the professional level. He already has a pro frame and many scouts seem to think he’s likely to at least reach his floor as a NHL player. There does seem to be some concern about his offensive potential and how it compares to the other forwards around him. He can skate though and if he can assert his physicality more with his frame, then I think he’s a future NHLer. I expect him to be around should the Devils want to take a chance on him.
C Brendan Brisson (Chicago - USHL): Alex profiled the USHL Breakout Player of the Year back in April. In that profile he referenced a scouting report from the Prospect Network which praised Brisson for being “an exceptionally skilled player, dynamic playmaker, and elite skater” just to name a few things. I did read a few scouts in the Hockey Prospect Black Book give differing opinions of his skating but still praise his hockey sense and quick decision making. Brisson had a huge year for a very talented Chicago Steel team which could make his numbers seem inflated. Though he does deserve credit for being a huge part of that team and producing at the rate of a potential 1st rounder. It will be interesting to see if he goes in the mid-1st or if he drops.
The European Forwards
LW/RW Noel Gunler (Lulea HF - SHL): CJ profiled Gunler back in April. Gunler is one of the most polarizing prospects in this year’s draft class. Some scouts seem to think he should be close to the top 10 while others have him towards the end of the 1st round. Gunler has quite a bit of professional experience with Lulea HF in the SHL over the past 2 seasons. Last year, he was a full time player, though in a limited role, and bounced around the line up. At 6’2” he has a solid frame to grow into. Gunler is considered to have one of the best shot’s in this year’s draft class and possesses a passing game that is capable of creating offense. Some scouts would like to see more consistency from him though I think what he’s done against men already is fairly impressive. Like I said before, scouts seem all over the place on this guy but I think he would be worth a shot for the Devils.
LW Rodion Amirov (Ufa - KHL/MHL): Alex profiled Amirov back in April, highlighting his strong 200-foot game. Amirov split time between the KHL and MHL, dominating the junior level and not producing much in very limited action at the senior level. I’ve seen him described as a two-way winger that plays a finesse game. Numerous scouts have mentioned that he has NHL level talent but needs to fill out his frame and play with strength effectively in order to be able to implement at the NHL level. His game is well rounded due to his above average hockey sense, compete level, offensive skills, and skating. It will be interesting to see where he goes because I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as high as the top 10 and as low as a late 1st.
LW Lukas Reichel (Eisbaren Berlin - DEL): I profiled Reichel back in April, focusing on his two-way game and the fact that he excelled in Germany’s top league as a 17 year old. One of the scouting reports I referenced in that post came from Jokke Nevalainen of Dobber Prospects who had plenty of praise for Reichel’s skating, puck skills, and shot. He also mentioned that Reichel already plays a pro-style game in battling for pucks which makes sense considering he’s had to play against men. Hockey Prospect views his skating, hockey sense, and skill level as the best attributes of his game. This is definitely a player that I would be interested in.
C Marat Khusnutdinov (SKA - MHL): Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey has this scouting report on Khusnutdinov. In it he notes that though lacking size, Khusnutdinov has the skills to be a top 6 center and the ability to be a defensive asset. Hockey Prospect seems most impressed with his skating followed by his hockey sense and compete lvel. It seems like Khusnutdinov has 1st round talent but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him fall, perhaps deep into the 2nd round. I’ve seen rankings and mock drafts place him all over the place but I get the feeling that most scouts have a positive view of his game. Breaking into the SKA KHL team would be amazing for his development.
Only 2 defensemen made this group as the likes of Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson are expected to be off the board by the time the Devils pick again. Both of these defenseman had fantastic draft seasons in the WHL in 2019-20. Hockey Prospecting sees both Guhle and Schneider as having the same star and NHLer potential while GT Analytics is higher on Schneider’s likelihood of being a NHLer while Guhle has the higher offensive potential.
LD Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert - WHL): Back in May, I profiled Guhle noting that he was a two-way defenseman with size, speed, and excellent gap control. One of the scouting reports I referenced in that post was from Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst who noted that Guhle played in all-situations for Prince Albert, logging a ton of minutes. He specifically praised Guhle’s mobility, hard shot, his gap control, sticking positioning, and timing. He did mention that his passing game is basic which suggests that Guhle could improve that skill to improve his offensive capabilities. Defensively it seems like Guhle is a very sound prospect. I’ve read one scouting report in the Hockey Prospect Black Book which suggests that Guhle already is physically capable of playing in the NHL with his size.
RD Braden Schneider (Brandon - WHL): Mike profiled Schneider back in April, noting that he was a big, smart, physical defender with two-way potential. One of the reports he referenced was from Tony Ferrari of Dobber Prospects. In that report, Ferrari praises Schneider’s puck movement, positioning, gap control, and physicality. From what I’ve read in Hockey Prospect’s Black Book, it seems that most scouts question Schneider’s offensive potential but have a lot of praise for his puck moving and defensive abilities.
The draft can be a very unpredictable event so I feel like I should briefly mention some players that could be on the Devils radar should they either fall or be ranked higher on private draft boards than public outlets. I don’t expect these players to be options but you never know what’s going to happen.
The first candidate that I think could fall is goaltender Yaroslav Askarov from SKA St. Petersburg. He’s one of the most hyped, talented goaltenders in recent years so I think he’ll go in the top 10, perhaps to Minnesota at #9. Sometimes teams can be wary of taking a goaltender that early so I do think there is a small chance he slips into the middle part of the first round. Should he be there at #18, then the Devils may have to seriously consider taking him.
The second candidate that I think could fall is defenseman Jake Sanderson from the USNTDP. I fully expect to see him be the next defender drafted after Jamie Drysdale, perhaps to Winnipeg at #10. I have seen some outlets suggests that some teams are high on defenseman Braden Schneider though. That doesn’t necessarily mean Sanderson would fall, but there could be a very small chance it happens. If he’s available to the Devils, then I think it’s something they would have to consider.
A few forwards I could see potentially rising to the 20th spot include John-Jason Peterka (EHC Munich - DEL), Zion Nybeck (HV71 J20 - SuperElit), and Sam Colangelo (Chicago - USHL). A few defensemen I could see challenging for that spot include Helge Grans (Malmo J20 - SuperElit) and Emil Andrae (HV71 J20 - SuperElit). To be clear, I’m not advocating for or against these players. These are just some of the names I have seen go higher in mock drafts than their rankings would indicate.
In terms of targets, I’m only going to focus on the players that I identified from Colin Cudomre’s “Expect Pick Range” tool. I really like center Seth Jarvis, center Dawson Mercer, and center Connor Zary though I expect those 3 to be gone by the time the Devils make these seletions. I think wingers that score goals such as Jacob Perreault and Jack Quinn also come off board before the Devils pick but I would definitely have interest in them if they are still available. Left wing Rodion Amirov is another player I would be intrigued by but expect to go before the Devils pick.
Realistic targets out of this group that I have interest in are forwards such as Mavrik Bourque, Lukas Reichel, Noel Gunler, and Brendan Brisson. I also really like both of the defensemen in this group in Kaiden Guhle and Braden Schneider.
I’m not as high on forwards Dylan Holloway, Jan Mysak, and Marat Khusnutdinov compared to the rest of the group. The only player in this group I would actively avoid is Hendrix Lapierre since I would rather avoid an Adrian Foster situation.
Which of these prospects do you find most intriguing? Which of these prospects would you avoid? How would you rank these players? Are there any prospects not mentioned in this post that you think could be options at 18th or 20th overall? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!