2020 NHL Draft still belongs to Rimouski’s Alexis Lafrenière

Alexis Lafreniere (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)
Alexis Lafreniere (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images) /

In a loaded 2020 NHL Draft class, Alexis Lafrenière is the cream of the crop.

With the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in the books, the offseason talk has shifted to the 2020 NHL Draft. The focus, right now, is on who improved and if there’s a battle for the number one spot. That top spot belongs to Alexis Lafrenière.

The Hockey Writers prospect guru, Larry Fisher, summed the Hlinka Gretzky tournament up perfectly in his preseason rankings for the 2020 NHL Draft.

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Fisher also mentioned recency bias, which is an all-too-common occurrence when dealing with prospects. It’s natural to put more stock in what we’ve seen recently compared to further in the past.

"It’s only a weeklong event and a lot of these prospects aren’t yet up to speed coming out of the offseason, so it’s important to take the Hlinka results with a grain of salt. – Fisher, The Hockey Writers"

It can also skew logic, although the summer tournaments eventually get washed away by the time the World Junior Championship is over.

Prospect debates heighten after the Hlinka, World Junior’s, and the Memorial Cup. All three provide a glimpse of the top players entering the draft, but all three also can create a bias that causes teams to make the wrong selection come draft day.

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Rester Derrière Pour Lafreniere

Currently, there should be no debate. Alexis Lafrenière is still the top prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft. We see it every year – people want to find a reason to knock the number one player off the pedestal.

Make no mistake, as we sit in the offseason awaiting the pre-season, there has been no movement by a 2020 NHL Draft-eligible player that has removed the Rimouski Océanic superstar from his top spot.

He’s ranked number one by Hockey Prospect, Future Considerations, and The Hockey Writers. It should also be expected that he gets ranked in the top spot by TSN’s Craig Button when those pre-season rankings get released.

Players like Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti, and Lucas Raymond are players that will certainly come up throughout the season as challengers for the number one spot, but they will need to make significant strides. They’ll also need help from Lafrenière by way of a huge drop in quality play, which is highly unlikely to happen.

The biggest debate that will arise is likely going to be focused on position. Lafrenière is a winger and more stock gets placed in centers (and rightly so). The difference here is just how good Lafrenière is. It would take another player Jack Eichel or Jack Hughes to de-throne Lafrenière. Quinton Byfield and Cole Perfetti just don’t have the same hype.

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For teams who already have their top centers sorted out, Lafrenière presents them the next great piece to push towards contending. Teams won’t be actively tanking as they did with McDavid and Matthews, but there’s no shame to rester derrière pour Lafreniere.