2020 NHL Draft Rankings: Preseason Top 40 prospects

Alexis Lafreniere (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
Alexis Lafreniere (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

Alex Lafreniere highlights the list of prospects for the 2020 NHL Draft in Montreal. Here’s a preseason ranking of the top 40 draft-eligible players.

With the NHL about to begin pre-season play, the scouting outlets are beginning to funnel out their pre-season rankings for the 2020 NHL Draft. This draft doesn’t have as much hype as the 2019 NHL Draft did, but expect that to change over the course of the season.

The 2020 NHL Draft, at this juncture, is forward-heavy at the front of the first round. There likely won’t be a massive amount of defensemen picked until we escape the first half of the round. And even then, the rankings vary from outlet to outlet.

As with any season, the rankings (for everyone) won’t really begin to solidify until after the World Junior Championship over the holidays. For now, and likely through the selection itself, the first overall pick is Alexis Lafrenière from the Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The rest look like this.

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Preseason Top 40 2020 Prospects

  1. Alexis Lafrenière, F, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
  2. Quinton Byfield, F, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
  3. Lucas Raymond, F, Frolunda HC J20 (SuperElit)
  4. Cole Perfetti, F, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
  5. Anton Lundell, F, HIFK (Liiga)
  6. Noel Gunler, F,  Lulea HF (SHL)
  7. Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie Otters (OHL)
  8. Alexander Holtz, F, Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)
  9. Tim Stützle, F, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
  10. Marco Rossi, F, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
  11. Jan Mysak, F, HC Litvinov (Czech)
  12. Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
  13. Antonio Stranges, F, London Knights (OHL)
  14. Dylan Holloway, F, Univ. of Wisconsin (NCAA)
  15. Hendrix Lapierre, F, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
  16. Jeremie Piorier, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
  17. Jaromir Pytlik, F, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
  18. Rodion Amirov, F, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
  19. Justin Barron, D, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
  20. Jacob Perreault, F, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
  21. Veeti Miettinen, F, Blues U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
  22. Connor McClennon, F, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
  23. Vasili Ponomaryov, F, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
  24. Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
  25. Connor Zary, F, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
  26. Braden Schneider, D, USNTDP (USHL)
  27. Will Cuylle, F, Winsor Spitfires (OHL)
  28. Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
  29. Emil Andrae, D, HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
  30. Helge Grans, D, Malmo Redhawks J20 (SuperElit)
  31. Mavrik Bourque, F, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
  32. Ty Smilanic, F, U.S. National U17 Team (USDP)
  33. Jake Sanderson, D, USNTDP (USHL)
  34. Jake Neighbours, F, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
  35. Jean-Luc Foudy, F, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  36. Theo Rochette, F, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
  37. Tyler Kleven, D, U.S. National U17 Team (USDP)
  38. Blake Biondi, F, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
  39. Michael Benning, D, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
  40. Brendan Brisson, F,  Chicago Steel (USHL)

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Five Thoughts On The List

  • The list represents seven nations, including 20 players from Canada, six from the USA, five from Sweden, three from Russia, two from both the Czech Republic and Finland, one from Germany, and one from Austria.
  • Jaime Drysdale, to me at least, is the top defender in the draft right now. I’m not convinced Justin Barron is worth a top-15 pick if you’re going to select best-player-available. The Mooseheads were the host-city for the Memorial Cup last year, and they loaded up according. I’d prefer to see more of Barron before moving him higher.
  • If I’m being honest, I don’t believe in taking goaltenders anywhere near the top-10 in any draft. That said, Yaroslav Askarov appears to be a franchise-type goaltender who can have a real impact in altering the direction of a team. He’s going to appear in every first-round projection. There are teams (Detroit, Edmonton, Arizona) that could stand to spend a first-round pick on him if they find themselves near the end of the top-10.
  • Brendan Brisson is my biggest “reach” for this ranking, placing him in the top-10 of the second round. He’s produced at a high level in a very good Shattuck-St Mary’s program, one which has a history for churning out NHL talent. He has a lot to gain from the 2019-20 season. The safer play would have been to put him mid-to-late third-round.
  • The three players I’m most interested to pay attention to this year are Tim Stützle, Jan Mysak and Veeti Miettinen.

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Who do you think should be in the top 40? Did we forget anyone? Which prospects are you the most excited about? Let us know in the comments!