Strap in folks cause this is going to be a long one but I promise it’ll be worth the read. If you’re an NHL fan and your team hasn’t played meaningful hockey in almost a year the the draft and free agency are probably the only things you’ve been looking forward to. Im talking to you Devils, Red Wings, Senators, and Sharks fans. Well we now know the NHL Draft will take place on October 6th and 7th, then on October 9th free agency will begin.
By this point if you’re a fan of one of those teams you’re already pissed off because the Rangers got the first overall pick in the draft thanks to the draft lottery. So now you won’t have a chance to draft the best player in Alexis Lafreniere. Fear not though ,as although you can’t have him there are plenty of other talented players coming out of this years draft class. The rankings are based off of the central scouting list so it’s not my own personal rankings. So let’s take a look at some of the best prospects in this years draft…
1. Alexis Lafreniere-Left Wing, Rimouski Oceanic
The New York Rangers got extremely lucky and somehow ended up with the first pick in the draft despite having less than a 2% chance. Nonetheless, they are getting the top player in the draft and a franchise altering player. He’s been the number one ranked prospect for this draft for almost two full years now. In 52 games this past season with Rimouski he put up some incredible numbers, scoring 35 goals and adding 77 assist totaling 112 points. Yea in case you didn’t know those are some pretty good numbers. My overall thoughts on him are that he’s going to be a great NHL player but I don’t think he will end up in the same category as a McDavid or Crosby. He should still have a great career and i’m excited to see how he fairs in the NHL.
2. Tim Stutzle-LW, Adler Mannheim(Ger)
I’d 100% be lying if I said I knew who this guy was before actually doing research on this years draft class. But now I do and I can confidently say that I think he has bust written all over him. As an 18 year old playing in the pro league in Germany, he put up 7 goals and 27 assist in 41 games. Props to the kid for playing against pros while only being 18 and it will definitely help him with adjusting to the physical part of the NHL. Buuutttt, in my opinion I’m not really impressed by his numbers. For one, Germany isn’t the most talented place for hockey players no offense. Second, if you’re going to go the overseas pro route during your draft year, you absolutely have to show out or at least score more than 7 goals…For example Kappo Kakko went this route and he played incredibly well for an 18 year old in the Finnish league in his draft year. Kakko did it in a better overall league and it helped him. For Stutzle he could ver well make me eat my words but he’s ranked way too high in the central scouting and I could see him falling in the draft.
3. Quinton Byfield-C, Sudbury Wolves
This dude is an absolute stud, I mean he really is a beast. He’s 6’4 and 215lbs what more could you want for a center. Every team is always searching for that big bodied center iceman and you don’t have to look any further than Byfield. Playing in 45 games for the Wolves in the OHL, Byfield scored 32 goals to go along with 50 assist for 82 points. He very well could be the best player to come out of this draft and I can say that with full confidence. He didn’t have all that great of a showing at the World Juniors this past year but I think that was a fluke. You can’t teach size or strength and Byfield has both of those to go along with a very strong skill set. It may take him a year or two but I fully expect him to be a dominate center in the league for years to come.
4. Marco Rossi-C, Ottawa 67’s
Image-The Hockey News
At only 5’9 you already know a lot of the talk about his game is his lack of size. I think we’ve had enough smaller guys that have succeeded to say size really doesn’t matter all that much. Back in the day when it was more of a physical game I would agree size played a bigger role. Nowadays though, it’s all about speed and skill Marco Rossi has both. He led the OHL in scoring this past season with 39 goals and 81 assist for 120 points. He’s been compared to Claude Giroux with his play style and if he is half the player Giroux is he should have a solid career. He could easily go top 5 in the draft depending on how highly teams view his offensive abilities.
5. Alexander Holtz-RW, Djurgardens IF
Image-The Hockey News
This Swedish winger has great hands to go along with some solid speed. He has the potential to become a pure sniper at the next level. having been playing in the Swedish Elite League, that will only help his growth as he’s been going up against some of the top talent in Sweden. Coming in at number five may be a little high for him, but if you go and watch some of his highlights you may change your mind.
6.Jamie Drysdale-D, Erie Otters
Hands down the best defenseman in this years draft class is Jamie Drysdale. If you watched him back at the World Juniors then you know just how much of a game changer he can be. He may not have put up major numbers in the tournament but he impacted the game every time he was on the ice. From his puck moving to his physical play he put on a show for everyone watching. He had a heck of a year with the Erie Otters as well, tallying 9 goals and 38 assist to finish the year with 47 points. One thing that doesn’t work to his advantage is his size, he is 5’11 and 170 pounds which isn’t bad but for some reason smaller guys always get looked down on, no pun intended. I am hoping we are starting to finally get past this small guys falling in the draft due to their size. At this point we have seen plenty of smaller defenseman that can thrive in the right situation. I fully expect Drysdale to be a great NHL player when the time comes for him.
7. Jake Sanderson-D, USHL
After a forward heavy top half of our rankings we now have back to back defenseman. Jake Sanderson from the USHL comes in at 7 on my rankings. At 6’1 and 185lbs he is another offensive minded defenseman who can put up points but is also really solid in his own end. Last season he put up a combined 43 points for the U.S. National teams he played for and he finished with a +/- rating of 6. He will definitely need to bulk up to become a high end defenseman in the NHL but he will have plenty of time to do that. He is committed to the University of North Dakota for whenever the NCAA hockey season starts so you’ll be able to watch him play pretty frequently if you’re a Cawlidge Hawkey fan.
8. Anton Lundell-C, HIFK Helsinki(SM-Liiga)
This 6’1 forward from Finland has a whole lotta potential to be an impact player in the NHL. He’s already got the size and the strength will eventually get there and you need both of those to be successful at the next level. Now this kid took the same route that Kappo Kakko took and decided to play in the pro league in Finland. This past season he played in 44 games and had 10 goals and 18 assist for 28 points. Not too shabby for a kid playing with a bunch of grown men as he showed he could hang around with the big boys. I definitely think that will help him as he transitions to the NHL as he should be somewhat used to the size and speed due to already playing in a pro league. Now if you haven’t already gathered this info from some of these other prospects I’m not your typical NHL draft analyst. One of the other reasons I am high on Lundell is strictly because of NHL 20….Yes, thats right the video game NHL 20. In that game Anton Lundell is one of the top rated prospects and actually turns out to be pretty damn good. I know this strictly because I play the franchise mode waaaaayyyy too much and had him on my team. All I’m saying is this kid is bound to be stud and you don’t just have to take my word for it you can take EA Sports word for it too.
9.Braden Scherider-D, Brandon Wheat Kings
A 6’2 209lbs defenseman who has been nothing but reliable for the Wheat Kings. In his three seasons with the Wheat Kings he has put up solid numbers points wise but to me what really stands out to me is his +/- rating. In those three years he was combine +32 and never finished a season with a minus rating. The WHL is loaded with talent which means it’s not easy to be off the ice when goals are being scored. Schneider did a good job of that and also did a great job of helping shut down opposing teams top lines. He’s a quick puck moving defenseman with great defensive hockey IQ and I think he will transition nicely into a solid NHL defenseman.
10.Lucas Raymond-LW, Frolunda HC(SHL)
I’ll be honest if you would’ve asked me a few months ago, I had no clue who this kid was and most people still probably don’t have a clue who he is. But, I am a man of the people so I did the research for you guys(You’re welcome) and found out why he deserves to be in my top ten of the draft rankings. Now this kids numbers aren’t going to jump out and smack you in the face but he’s got some serious talent. Also, you have to keep in mind he’s been playing in the Sweedish Elite league going up against some top talent as an 18 year old. There haven’t been many young kids that go out and dominate that league so the fact that he was able to produce as much as he did in the limited games he played in, is a good sign. He also had a pretty solid showing at the World Juniors which is another good sign. He may not be a guy that makes the NHL for another year or two but his potential is there and he is definitely someone to keep an eye on.
So there ya have my top ten for this years NHL Draft, I didn’t go too off the rails with any of these guys compared to everyone else. One thing I will say though is I don’t think this draft is as deep as the past couple of years, this draft class just doesn’t give me that vibe. I could be completely wrong but we won’t know that for a couple of years and hopefully by that point nobody will even remember I said that. Regardless, I love the NHL draft and can’t wait for that and free agency to start. Make sure to keep it here with Branded Sports as ill have you covered with all the latest NHL news and updates.