Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield Headline ESPN’s 2020 NHL Mock Draft

Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield Headline ESPN’s 2020 NHL Mock Draft

Quinton Byfield

Quinton ByfieldChris Tanouye/Getty Images

ESPN’s Chris Peters released his 2020 NHL mock draft on Monday, and left wing Alexis Lafreniere and center Quinton Byfield are one-two on the list.

Peters calls Lafreniere, widely considered the favorite to be picked No. 1 overall, the “most NHL-ready prospect” in this class and who “has the right mix of skill and tenacity to make an impact in both the short and long term.”

The identity of the team picking No. 1 won’t be known until the NHL conducts the second phase of its NHL draft lottery, which will occur between the league’s planned qualifier round and first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs as part of its Return To Play plan.

A timeline for those rounds is to be determined as the league looks to return after its March 12 suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eight qualifier losers will each be given a 12.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick, with the other teams slotting ninth through 15th in reverse order by regular-season winning percentage.

Byfield was tabbed to go No. 2 to the Los Angeles Kings. Peters said Byfield can be the “heir” to center Anze Kopitar, who has scored 333 goals during a 14-year NHL career that includes five All-Star Game appearances and two Stanley Cup wins.

Spots No. 2 through No. 8 have been confirmed via the first phase of the draft lottery. The Ottawa Senators hold the Nos. 3 and 5 spots, while the Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres hold down the Nos. 4, 6, 7 and 8 selections, respectively.

The qualifier teams are as follows by inverse order of points percentage, per Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

The entire playoff picture and qualifying matchups can be found via NBC Sports.

The rest of Peters’ top eight included two left wings, two defensemen and two centers, in that order.

Left wings Tim Stutzle and Lucas Raymond were pegged for Ottawa and Detroit. Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson are slated for Ottawa and Anaheim, and Cole Perfetti and Marco Rossi are headed for New Jersey and Buffalo, per the prognostications.

As for how the remainder of the top 15 may shake out, goaltender Yaroslav Askarov figures to be the first netminder off the board. Peters noted the Devils (who will own the Arizona Coyotes’ selection unless the Coyotes land the No. 1 selection) could be the spot for the Russian, and he connected the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild with him as well.

Expect more forwards to fly off the board en masse in the top half of the draft, with Peters mentioning wing Alexander Holtz, forwards Jack Quinn and Anton Lundell and center Dawson Mercer. Among the defensemen, Braden Schneider and Kaiden Guhle are candidates to go in the top 15.

No date has been set for the draft yet.