The 2020 NHL Entry Draft is sneaking up on us, with Round 1 starting next Tuesday and Round 7 wrapping up on Wednesday. We had a tight turnaround, but SB Nation NHL came together for our annual mock draft, where our team sites play backseat general manager to our favorite franchises.
If the real first round plays out anything like our mock draft, it’s going to be plenty of content to debate over until whenever it’s safe to start next season.
The first five picks went up yesterday. Here are picks 6-11:
6. Anaheim Ducks — Jamie Drysdale
From Anaheim Calling:
Jamie Drysdale served as the alternate captain to the 2019-20 Erie Otters, where he was nearly a point per game player. His work with Team Canada — as a 16-year-old with the U18 team and the following year with the U20 group — has most agreeing that Drysdale is the best defender available in a deep draft year.
Drysdale is on the smaller end, standing at just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, but it’s hardly a footnote in most scouting reports. What he’s know for is being a playmaker, being able to read opponents and make quick decisions. He’s aided by an explosive skating talent that will surely only get better as he builds muscle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player skate backwards as confidently as Drysdale. [...]
It comes down to an organizational need and the Ducks have a bit of a luxury at sixth overall to get to question whether to take the top defensive prospect, or the sixth-best forward prospect.
7. New Jersey Devils — Cole Perfetti
From All About The Jersey:
Back in early April, Gerard wrote this profile about Cole Perfetti. He described Perfetti as a forward that would fill a need for the Devils. I have to agree. Per Gerard’s profile, a lot of people who have watched and scouted Perfetti highlights his intelligence on the ice, his creativity on and off the puck, and his offensive skills. His production backs up the praise. Perfetti was an absolutely fantastic producer for Saginaw in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season. Not only did he finish second in the entire league with 111 points, but his 37 goals and 74 (!!!) assists were 31 points higher than the second-highest scorer on the Spirit. According to Pick224, only four players averaged at least one primary (goal and primary assist) point per game and 1.39 even strength points per game among 2020 draft eligible players: Lafreniere, Rossi, Byfield, and Perfetti. That is a remarkable group of forwards to be a part of. There is no shortage of highlights from his season with Saginaw and they are worth a watch.
8. Buffalo Sabres — Anton Lundell
From Die By The Blade:
This year in the SB Nation mock draft with how the board fell, we were left with two options to decide between at eight. Those two players were scoring winger Alexander Holtz and two-way center Anton Lundell.
The decision was made to pick the center in Lundell. It’s a big need in the system and still at the NHL level. The Finnish forward plays for HIFK in Liiga and has played an important role for them as a young player. He put together 10 goals and 28 points in 44 games last, which is impressive numbers for an 18-year-old.
He’s one of the top two-way players in this draft and may be one of the closest to being NHL-ready. Lundell’s ability to control play for his club when he’s on the ice showed through in his possession numbers last season. He was second in Liiga in shot share (61.9%) among all players to play at least 30 games, according to Liiga’s official site.
9. Minnesota Wild — Alexander Holtz
From Hockey Wilderness:
Though Holtz is best known for his tremendous shot, he’s also no slouch as a playmaker. He will almost always opt to shoot when given time and space in the attacking zone, but he’s just as capable of threading the needle for a cross-ice feed to set up a high-danger scoring chance. As is the case with many natural shooters, Holtz does try to force shots a little more than he should at times. Luckily, that’s a rather fixable issue that can be ironed out with proper coaching.
In case that all doesn’t sound enticing enough, it should also be noted that Holtz is a pretty terrific skater. He doesn’t have the straight-line speed of a Connor McDavid or Nathan MacKinnon, but he’s a quick, agile skater who’s proven numerous times that he can get around enemy defenders with ease. Pair that skating with his lethal shot and his quality playmaking skills and that makes for quite the combination.
10. Winnipeg Jets — Seth Jarvis
From Arctic Ice Hockey:
Seth is, in a word, a dynamo. The smaller winger is a remarkably skilled attacker, especially navigating small spaces and slipping between defensive structures. Seth isn’t afraid to skate between tight areas before ripping off an impressive shot or finding a teammate for a clear scoring opportunity. His excellent agility, balance, and stickhandling allow him to make quick work of defensive marks. The second half of his latest season saw a ridiculous surge in scoring, with Seth averaging anywhere from 2 to 3 points a night. [...]
If you’re wondering why I opted for Jarvis over Sanderson, it’s because I tend to think Jake’s ceiling is likely a second-pairing two-way D. I like Jake’s skillset and I think he’d be a very good zone exit specialist. He’s also intelligent when in possession and isn’t afraid to distribute the puck in the offensive zone. Sanderson remains a well-rounded prospect, but if I’m choosing in the top-10, I want explosive upside. For me, Jarvis seems like the better bet to earn a path to stardom. If Seth pans out, he could be a venomous top-6 winger with elite playmaking ability. Jake will likely be a great defender, but I’d rather opt for goalscoring ability first.
11. Nashville Predators — Dawson Mercer
From On The Forecheck:
Mercer brings a rare combination of dazzling stickhandling and brilliant decision making on and off the puck. His shot is well above average, with a solid release and standout accuracy, but he really makes his money with his hands in tight. He projects as a goal-scoring two-way threat at the next level who can drive a line with his extremely balanced offensive toolkit, but he separates himself from his contemporaries of the same archetype (Connor Zary, Anton Lundell) by having the aforementioned standout puck skill. [...]
I had Mercer as the 11th-best prospect in this draft in my most recent hierarchy, but I’ve had him as high as ninth, so he’d be a great value pick here. He’s an excellent addition to a Predators team looking for impact prospects to revitalize their aging roster, and even if he doesn’t pan out I could see him being a productive bottom-six winger because of his high hockey IQ.
The Florida Panthers are now on the board. Up next are picks 12-16.