2020 NHL Draft: Ten younger prospects to keep an eye on this season

It’s a pretty old draft, so this was kind of hard.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on some of the oldest prospects eligible for the 2020 Entry Draft. This time around, I’ll be taking a look at some of the youngest prospects still eligible for the draft in June. The only age criteria that we’re using to refer to these players as ‘younger’ prospects is this: anyone who turns 18 after the draft is held (June 27th), but is still eligible for the 2020 draft (born before the September 15th draft cut-off date). Star Russian goalie Yaroslav Askarov barely missed being eligible for this list (his birthday is June 16th, 2002).

After doing some research into the younger draft-eligible players, I noticed that the majority of the top ranked prospects were either born in late 2001 or between January and February of 2002, which is definitely interesting. In fact, 13 of the top 15 ranked 2020 eligible prospects by Future Considerations are born between September of 2001 and February of 2002. As a result, there aren’t a lot of younger prospects who are projected to be high draft picks, especially prospects who will still be 17 by the time that the draft ends.

Still, there are a couple of notable younger prospects, even if they aren’t as well-known yet. If you followed any of the World Juniors, U-18s, Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, or the U-17 Challenge, some of these names may ring a bell. I’ve listed the following ten prospects by their birthdays, so we’ll start with the oldest of the bunch and go right down to the September 15th cut-off date. Enjoy!

2018-19 Stats

Joe MillerUMHSEHLRW251633491.96N/A
Marat KhusnutdinovRU18C11810181.64N/A
Martin ChromiakSlovakia U20LW392224461.18N/A
Quinton ByfieldOHLC642932610.9575.56
Roby JarventieJr. A SM-LiigaLW401417310.7866.67
Alexander PashinMHLRW1764100.5988.89
Ridly GreigWHLLW631421350.5778.57
Jake SandersonUSNTDPLD44420240.5550.00
Jack FinleyWHLC63910190.3075.00
Brock FaberUSNTDPRD56312150.2758.34

Jake Sanderson (LD)
July 8, 2002
6’1”, 170lbs

The son of former NHL forward Geoff, Sanderson is a defenseman with an extremely raw skillset. He’s a fine enough skater, strong in stance, and difficult to knock over or off of pucks. Sanderson’s edgework is excellent, and his strongest asset at the moment. He can change directions on a dime and he’s elusive once he gets going. His ability to anticipate plays is slow, and he can sometimes find himself on the wrong end of a play as a result. He has a ton of potential, but pretty much all aspects of his game need refining.

Marat Khusnutdinov (C)
Vityaz Podolsk (RU18)
July 17, 2002
5’9”, 152 lbs

Khusnutdinov is one of the more intriguing prospects available to teams in June. The dynamic center is a fluid skater with excellent top-end speed who plays larger than he is. Khusnutdinov is a creative player with elite hands and one of the best shots of the draft. Combined with his high level hockey sense, he can often catch defenders off guard and beat goalies with his deceptive shot.

Khusnutdinov scored the first two goals in the video below:

Alexander Pashin (RW)
Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
July 28, 2002
5’8”, 154

In the above video, you can watch Pashin scoring the 3-1 goal. I wrote about Pashin a few weeks ago after he helped Russia win gold at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup:

I refer to Pashin as Russia’s Cole Caufield, but perhaps that’s an oversight. They both are undersized, highly skilled forwards. Pashin also helps defensively by creating turnovers along the boards and cutting off passes from opponents, and is an effective penalty killer. He’s an extremely intelligent forward who is always moving, unafraid to play physically, who can score from anywhere thanks to his lethal shot. [Raw Charge]

Although Pashin made a name for himself as a scorer at that tournament, he’s also an excellent playmaker. He’s a very comfortable and strong puck handler, and larger opponents often struggle to strip him of the puck. His size may scare NHL teams away at the draft, but Pashin is talented enough to go in the first round.

Ridly Greig (LW)
Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
August 8, 2002
5’11”, 159 lbs

The first time I got to watch Greig play was at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, and I liked a lot of his game. Although there’s not a lot of power to his skating, he’s still fast enough to contribute off the rush. Greig is a good passer, and he shows a lot of promise as a formidable playmaker. He also has a good release and accurate shot, but both his passing and shot could definitely benefit from him building muscle and getting stronger. Greig had a fairly small role with the Wheat Kings last season, and was still adjusting to the size and speed of his opponents in the WHL. Greig will likely get more ice-time and opportunities on special teams as a returning player, which should help his offensive development.

Roby Jarventie (LW)
Ilves (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
August 8, 2002
6’1”, 161 lbs

Another player I had the pleasure of watching at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, the first thing that comes to mind when Jarventie is mentioned is speed. He is exceptionally dangerous off the rush, and he uses his agility and explosive skating to separate himself from opponents and dash in alone. Jarventie is unafraid to attack the net directly, and he has an incredible release on his wrist shot, which you can see below:

While his shot is impressive, Jarventie also has very deft and quick hands. He will become a more effective playmaker as he gets stronger, and he’ll have to work on his defensive awareness, but Jarventie is an exciting player to watch every time he steps onto the ice.

Quinton Byfield (C)
Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
August 19, 2002
6’4”, 214 lbs

The reigning OHL rookie of the year is one of the youngest top draft eligible prospects in 2020, which makes his accomplishments all the more impressive. Already larger than a lot of current NHL players, Byfield is an excellent skater, with explosive acceleration and agility. He’s also a deft puck handler who can confidently deke out defenders, and he can shift the angles of his shot with ease. Byfield is also a solid passer and is a force down low on the cycle. He has one of the best all-around skillsets of any draft eligible prospect, and despite the fact that Byfield is at the younger end of draft eligibility, he doesn’t play like it.

Martin Chromiak (LW)
HK Dukla Trencin (Slovakia)
August 20, 2002
6’0”, 179lbs

Chromiak was selected in the 2019 CHL Import Draft in June by the Kingston Frontenacs, and there was speculation that he would come over to play in Canada for his draft year. However, Chromiak did not report to Kingston, instead deciding to remain in Slovakia for his draft season. Chromiak is primarily a playmaker with excellent puck poise and control, who can slow the pace of play down with the puck on his stick and feed his teammates pucks through tight passing lanes. Chromiak also has a strong wrist and snapshot, as well as good hands in tight. He’s a fairly average skater (although it doesn’t stop him from coming in and scoring on breakaways) who could benefit from working to increase his acceleration and top speed, and he needs to get stronger in order to be an effective player in his own end against stronger, older opponents.

Brock Faber (RD)
August 22, 2002
5’11”, 176 lbs

The USNTDP has the perfect replacement for recent Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Cam York, because he and Faber have incredibly similar games and skillsets. An intelligent and mobile, two-way defenseman, Faber is very reliable and has very few holes in his game. He has great gap control and solid defensive positioning, and he doesn’t overcomplicate plays or overcompensate for blunders. He also has strong edges and great first-step speed (as shown in the video below). Faber prefers to send pucks to the net using his wrister rather than using a slapshot or one-timer. Like a lot of the players on this list, Faber needs to get stronger, but he’s already got a very well-rounded game.

Jack Finley (C)
Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
September 2, 2002
6’5”, 207 lbs

He may be the second-youngest player on this list, but Finley is also the biggest. The giant center from British Columbia was used primarily in a defensive role for Spokane last season, largely due to his size and intelligence. He’s a force in puck battles, a solid penalty-killer, and has good positioning in his own end. Finley does have a good offensive skillset, too. He can create offense off the cycle, has good hands, and can tip pucks well. Finley also reads and anticipates plays well, which allows him to follow developing plays and put himself in positions for secondary scoring chances.

Finley will return to Spokane for his draft season and continue to work on improving his agility and explosiveness. Improvements to those aspects of his skating will help him take that next step offensively.

Joe Miller (RW)
Team Southwest (UMHSEHL)
September 15, 2002
5’9”, 146 lbs

It took a little more digging to find scouting reports on the youngest player eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Miller is born right on the cut-off date for draft eligibility, and he’s also the smallest player of the ten profiled in this article (at least in terms of weight). Miller played high school hockey in Minnesota last season. He may be undersized, but he’s also a very elusive skater and fearless with the puck. Miller will also focus on developing more of a two-way game as he gets older. A growth spurt would be great (he’s only 16, so it is possible), but obviously, his strength needs improving, and he has to put on more weight.

All player information is from Elite Prospects and statistics are from Pick224.com.