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2020 NHL Draft: The final top 31 rankings

The draft is (finally) coming.

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

When the NHL postponed the dates of the NHL Entry Draft indefinitely back in June, frankly, I was disappointed, but relieved. I have been agonizing over my final top 31 rankings since the leagues were cancelled in March. The extra time to nitpick and critique probably wasn’t necessary, but I did do two separate rankings between my midseason and final that I just didn’t publicize.

Just as a final disclaimer — these rankings were compiled without taking the draft order into consideration, so just because Quinton Byfield is listed at 2nd overall doesn’t mean that the LA Kings will take him there. This isn’t a mock draft, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

Biggest Debates

Raymond vs. Stutzle

I struggled a lot with this ranking for several reasons, but the biggest one was flip-flopping back and forth between Tim Stutzle and Lucas Raymond. A lot of people have Stutzle second or third overall in their rankings, but after watching what I did this season, there was no way I was putting anyone ahead of Byfield except Alexis Lafreniere.

Raymond probably won’t go as high as third (in fact, I’d be shocked if he did, because he seems to be sliding further and further down scouts’ lists), but to me, he’s a no-brainer there. Size and strength might be an issue now, but if it still is within a couple of years, that’d be truly shocking to me. His ability to create offense and drive play makes him a tantalizing talent [ed. note - have we not learned anything from Brayden Point? Always draft talented players].

As for Stutzle, there’s really not much to knock here at all. He’s a fantastic puckhandler, but sometimes he had a tendency to do too much with it. The biggest upside with Stutzle is whether he can package his skills and make the transition to center in professional hockey. He played down the middle in junior, but he’s played mostly on the wing in the DEL.

I really don’t think there’s much of a gap between these two (it’s minuscule, at most), but I did go back and forth between these two all year and eventually went with my gut to leave Raymond at three and Stutzle at four.

Schneider vs. Guhle

This has been a debate all season, as Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson began to separate themselves as the top two defensemen available in this year’s draft. Schneider and Guhle are also two of my favorite players in this draft class, so sometimes I had to remind myself to take my biased glasses off and observe them for the players they are. They’re both tall, mobile and physically punishing when they have the opportunity to be. But their agendas at opposite ends of the ice are where the differences arise.

Guhle is way more likely to lead the rush — in fact, he’s often a one-man breakout machine in Prince Albert. His puckhandling could use some improvement, because he’s prone to bobbles, especially when receiving passes, that could lead to turnovers the other way. Schneider is much less likely to do that, and he’s also not as aggressive when he does, preferring to let Brandon’s forwards create in the offensive zone instead.

I’ve had Schneider higher in all five rankings, and I stand by that. I understand the argument for having Guhle higher — he’s more offensively inclined, while Schneider is a defense-first defender. There is a lot more upside to Guhle, whereas I think most scouts know what teams will get with Schneider. But I also think Guhle can sometimes be a defensive liability (just in decision-making), whereas I rarely ever see Schneider out of position on plays, especially when defending 1-on-1.

I do think Guhle will probably be drafted before Schneider, but Schneider, who was five days removed from being eligible for 2019’s draft, is probably slightly more NHL ready, though I think both defenders could use at least another season of junior hockey. The age gap isn’t that big between these two — Guhle just four months younger — but I’m still not as high on Guhle as others I’ve seen. The defensive play of both is what I used to make my decision and it’s why Guhle is one spot below Schneider on my final ranking.

What About Tampa Bay?

The Lightning entered this season (2019-20) with two first round picks, but dealt both in order to get Barclay Goodrow from San Jose and Blake Coleman from New Jersey. Especially in the Coleman trade, I thought a first and Nolan Foote was a steep price to pay, but I can’t argue with how both trades have paid dividends for the team.

Earlier this year I put together a list of several players the Lightning could target with their second round pick, either 61 or 62. I don’t do rankings that far back, so I figured that was better than nothing. There is a significant possibility the Bolts try to trade up into the early second round, since they have two picks in the third, fourth and sixth rounds, but we’ll see.

Final Draft Rankings

I’ve included all 5 rankings I’ve done this season, which you can sort by in the table below to see how my rankings have fluctuated over the course of a (shortened) season.

2020 Final Draft Ranking - Sept 22, 2020

Final Rankings May Rankings April Rankings Midseason Rankings Preseason Rankings Player Date of Birth Position Team (League) Height Weight
Final Rankings May Rankings April Rankings Midseason Rankings Preseason Rankings Player Date of Birth Position Team (League) Height Weight
1 1 1 1 1 Alexis Lafreniere October 11, 2001 LW Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) 6’1 192
2 2 2 2 3 Quinton Byfield August 19, 2002 C Sudbury Wolves (OHL) 6’4 214
3 4 4 3 2 Lucas Raymond March 28, 2002 RW/LW Frolunda HC (SHL) 5’10 165
4 3 3 4 15 Tim Stutzle January 15, 2002 C Adler Mannheim (DEL) 5’11 165
5 5 5 8 10 Jamie Drysdale April 8, 2002 RD Erie Otters (OHL) 5’11 165
6 6 6 9 12 Marco Rossi September 23, 2001 C Ottawa 67’s (OHL) 5’9 179
7 8 7 6 6 Cole Perfetti January 1, 2002 C Saginaw Spirit (OHL) 5’10 185
8 7 8 5 5 Anton Lundell October 3, 2001 C/LW HIFK (Liiga) 6’1 183
9 9 9 7 4 Alexander Holtz January 23, 2002 RW/LW Djurgardens IF (SHL) 6’0 183
10 10 10 10 7 Yaroslav Askarov June 16, 2002 G SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL) 6’3 163
11 11 15 29 NR Jake Sanderson July 8, 2002 LD U-18 National Team (USDP) 6'1 185
12 20 28 NR NR Jack Quinn September 19, 2001 RW Ottawa 67’s (OHL) 5'11 176
13 19 17 28 NR Seth Jarvis February 1, 2002 RW Portland Winterhawks (WHL) 5'10 172
14 16 11 13 NR Dawson Mercer October 27, 2001 RW Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) 6'0 179
15 14 12 11 8 Dylan Holloway September 23, 2001 LW Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA) 6’1 192
16 17 18 21 24 Rodion Amirov October 2, 2001 LW Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL) 6’0 168
17 12 14 12 13 Noel Gunler October 7, 2001 RW/LW Lulea HF (SHL) 6’1 176
18 22 19 27 31 Mavrik Bourque January 8, 2002 C Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) 5’10 165
19 15 20 19 25 Braden Schneider September 20, 2001 RD Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 6’2 209
20 27 24 NR 23 Kaiden Guhle January 18, 2002 LD Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) 6'3 187
21 18 16 15 22 Connor Zary September 25, 2001 C Kamloops Blazers (WHL) 6'0 174
22 13 13 14 NR Jan Mysak June 24, 2002 LW Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) 6'0 176
23 21 22 23 NR Roni Hirvonen January 10, 2002 C Assat (Liiga) 5'9 163
24 24 23 17 NR Jacob Perreault April 15, 2002 C Sarnia Sting (OHL) 5'11 198
25 25 NR NR NR Helge Grans May 10, 2002 RD Malmo Redhawks (SHL) 6'3 192
26 28 30 25 NR Emil Andrae February 23, 2002 LD HV71 J20 (SuperElit) 5'9 183
27 23 27 20 NR Lukas Cormier March 27, 2002 LD Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL) 5'10 170
28 29 26 18 11 Hendrix Lapierre February 9, 2002 C Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) 6’0 165
29 26 25 26 20 Zion Nybeck May 12, 2002 RW HV71 (SHL) 5’8 176
30 31 31 NR NR Thomas Bordeleau January 3, 2002 C U-18 National Team (USDP) 5'9 179
31 NR NR NR NR Brendan Brisson October 22, 2001 C Chicago Steel (USHL) 5'10 179
All player information from Elite Prospects.