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SB Nation NHL Mock Draft: Picks 22-26

A few teams are thinking high risk, high reward for their first round strategy.

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - DECEMBER 03: #8 Noel Gunler of Lulea HF warms up prior the Champions Hockey League match between Lausanne HC and Lulea HF at Vaudoise Arena on December 3, 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images

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.

Catch up on the picks so far here:

Picks 1-5
Picks 6-11
Picks 12-16
Picks 17-21

Now, picks 22 through 26:

22. New York Rangers — Hendrix Lapierre

From Blueshirt Banter:

A lesser concern is that scouts didn’t get much of a chance to scout him last season. Yes, they got to see him in 2018-2019, where he excelled at a very young age, and his performance internationally was electrifying, but the ebbs and flows of a season offer insight that can be missed in short spurts.

The bigger concern is not so much about Lapierre’s ability, but whether he’ll ever be able to stay healthy long enough for it to matter. Head, neck, and spinal injuries are no joke and have to be monitored very carefully, and a player with that kind of history is one awkward hit away from hitting the shelf for the long haul.

If one could guarantee his health, Lapierre would go well before 22nd overall. He may still. In SB Nation’s mock draft, many teams understandably opted for players with more certainty. We felt that the Rangers have enough already in the organization that they could afford the risk. The team desperately needs young players with upside at center, and Lapierre is exactly that. He’s a legitimate option for the Rangers at tomorrow’s real draft.

23. Philadelphia Flyers — Dylan Holloway

From Broad Street Hockey:

With the 23rd selection, we have selected Dylan Holloway, who was no. 19 on our community board.

The University of Wisconsin forward is a bit older for this draft class, and has already finished his freshman season. His prototype is that of a two-way forward, getting praise for not only his offensive skills, but his defensive commitment. He scored 8 goals and was credited with 9 assists in 35 games with the Badgers this season. [...]

Holloway feels like a Flyers pick, selecting the safer two-way forward over the flashier, boom or bust type player in someone like Noel Gunler. But, that’s not to say Holloway doesn’t have that flash — it’s said that there were real glimpses during the season, but it just wasn’t all that consistent.

24. Washington Capitals — Marat Khusnutdinov

From Japers’ Rink:

So, in retrospect, we’ve never actually been right! Whatever. That’s the past, we’re moving on now. With the 25th pick of the 2020 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, Japers’ Rink is proud to select, from SKA-1946 St. Petersburg of the MHL in Russia, Marat Khusnutdinov.

Marat is a young all around center that does everything extremely well. He has high end speed and skating ability, great vision, elite IQ, and a willingness to get dirty. He can be used in any situation at any time of the game and the coach wouldn’t have to worry a bit. The best part about him is at the very worst he should be a great middle six center much like Lars Eller, but at his best he has legit first line center ceiling. He has Sebastian Aho potential.

25. Colorado Avalanche — Noel Gunler

From Mile High Hockey:

With Holloway off the board, we took the next best option on our draft board - Noel Gunler, a right-shooting winger who has a little Mikko Rantanen and a lot of Andre Burakovsky in his game.

Gunler is viewed by many as a boom or bust prospect due to questions about his maturity level. For the most part, he has been left off of Sweden’s international teams and there is a lot of speculation that it is due to a lack of coachability. That said, given the right situation - like say playing under a no-nonsense coach with a team whose leadership group is built around a fellow Swede - Gunler has the talent to be a high-end winger in the NHL.

Gunler is a very quick skater with great acceleration. That said, he needs to work on his lower body strength as he lacks the balance and power to be considered an elite skater.

26. St. Louis Blues — Brendan Brisson

From St. Louis Game Time:

But Brisson was too good of a pick to pass up. He has a truly great skillset and strong enough hockey IQ to make him a reliable pickup; knowing that he’s simply too smart to fail. He has all of the makings of a future top-six lock, in the same way that a player like Schenn have become must-haves in St. Louis. Brisson’s ability would perfectly feed into Robert Thomas’ already-great play, creating a dynamic duo that would become the face of the Blues. Really.

And even better, Brisson is likely to be NHL-ready within the next two-or-three seasons. He could make the jump straight to the AHL this upcoming season but that likely won’t happen. He’s much more likely to play out the 2020-21 season in the USHL — or with the University of Michigan if they play — and will make the jump to the pros for 2021-22 or 2022-23. But when he does make that jump, he’ll skyrocket quickly. Expect him to be an NHL fixture within three seasons. If that happens, and he continues flaunting the awe-bringing skillset he currently has, he’ll be WELL worth the 26th overall pick.


The Anaheim Ducks are on the clock for the final picks of the first round.