The 2020 NHL Entry Draft kicks off tonight and a number of storylines could highlight the evening. What will Los Angeles and Ottawa do at 2 and 3? Will there be movement within the top 10? What big names could be finding a new home via trade? How soon will a team pull the trigger on Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov?
Of course, it is all but official that phenom prospect Alexis Lafreniere will be a New York Ranger once the draft commences, but after that is truly anyone’s guess. The draft could go in nearly any which way, and how teams toward the top of the draft order operate will dictate how things unfold from there.
While I will not compile a mock draft for this year, I will share how I rank the 10 players I featured in the series of draft prospect profiles. I will also assign a letter grade to each player to designate how close the prospects are to each other in my mind. I will then wrap things up by highlighting a few other names the Blackhawks could consider with their 17th overall pick should they look to go off the board a bit.
Before beginning the rankings, it is important to note that if the Blackhawks select someone fairly low on this list that does not mean it is a poor pick. It simply means the players higher on the list were likely already selected and therefore unavailable to be chosen at 17.
Simply put, Askarov is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Blackhawks. The team has not successfully drafted and developed a goaltender since selecting Corey Crawford in 2003, and Crawford is now on his last fumes with no plausible replacement in the system. That said, the likelihood of Askarov being available at 17 is pretty slim. Should the Blackhawks consider moving up in the draft to get their goalie of the future? Honestly, it would not be the worst idea depending on the cost to move up.
Quinn exploded as an elite sniper in the OHL this past season, racking up 52 goals in a shortened season. Chicago lacks elite offensive talent in the pipeline, so adding an offensive dynamo like Quinn would be a slam dunk. Again though, the likelihood of Quinn being on the board when the Blackhawks make their pick is slim.
An uber-talented forward, Jarvis would also provide the Blackhawks with an elite offensive weapon for their prospect pool. Though slightly undersized, the ability Jarvis has is nearly impossible to dispute, and picking up a player of his quality at 17 would be a big success for Chicago.
Zary almost feels like a bit of a lesser Jonathan Toews on the ice thanks to a well-rounded game and the drive Zary plays with. Zary plays the game hard and with a chip on his shoulder, similar to the Chicago captain. Though not an elite offensive talent, Zary would give the Blackhawks a heart-and-soul player for the system capable of being effective at both ends of the ice. For the first time on this list, Zary is a player that realistically could be available at 17.
Amirov is an interesting prospect because of his top-notch skating and offensive ability while also already playing a reliable two-way game. Of course, the Russian factor could cause teams to pass on Amirov, but his ability to contribute across all 200 feet of the ice is very intriguing. Amirov could be one of those players people wonder why he was not drafted higher.
Holloway’s stock dropped after an underwhelming season for the Wisconsin Badgers. Holloway possesses the raw talent needed to contribute at a high level in the NHL, but a somewhat slow start in the NCAA has some questioning if he will be able to be a reliable scorer professionally.
Though Chicago already has an extremely crowded blue line throughout the organization, Guhle would provide the Blackhawks with something they do not really have in the system right now in a legitimate shutdown defender. Chicago definitely needs high-end offensive talent for the prospect pool, but they could do worse than adding a rock-solid defense-first rear guard. Guhle could also grow in his offensive game, and if he does, would be an extremely dependable two-way option.
Some people are high on Schneider’s two-way game, but the fact of the matter is Guhle is closer to Schneider’s offensive ability than Schneider is to Guhle’s offensive ability. There are some legitimate question marks about Schneider, and given some of those, he likely does not make a ton of sense for the Blackhawks.
Mercer is another player whose draft stock dipped this season. Like Holloway, he has the talent needed to be a solid contributor in the NHL, but his inconsistency has certainly soured some people on his game.
Mysak is another extremely intriguing player in the draft class because of the uncertainty of how his game will translate to the NHL. Mysak has the ability to generate offense at an electric level, but his 200-foot game and general consistency needs a ton of work. If Mysak does round out his game, he could legitimately become the steal of the draft. However, Mysak is very much a high-risk, high-reward prospect. Odds are pretty good he will be available at 17, so if Chicago really wants to swing for the fences, Mysak could be their guy.
Other names to keep an eye on
Outside of Askarov, Lapierre is arguably the biggest wildcard of the draft class. His offensive ability warrants a high draft pick, potentially even within the top 10, but he has already endured issues with injuries and concussions, so his draft stock is very much a question mark. If teams are comfortable with Lapierre’s health, he could certainly land within the top 20.
Bourque enjoyed a successful 2019–20 campaign in the QMJHL, potting 71 points in 49 games. A high-IQ player with a knack of creating chances out of nothing, Bourque is another player who could be selected in the top 20.
Theoretically, no NHL team should have a better feel for Brisson than the Blackhawks, as he played for the nearby Chicago Steel in 2019–20. Brisson is viewed by many as a late-first round pick, but maybe the Blackhawks snatch him up at 17 if they feel he warrants it.
Another player who dropped in the rankings this season, Gunler is a high-end shooter capable of filling the net. However, a disappointing showing in 2019–20 has tanked his ranking toward late in the first round. But, if a team feels he is more so the prospect entering the season than at the end of the season, he could still find himself chosen in the top 20.
If the last name sounds familiar, it probably should, as Jacob is the son of former Blackhawk and long-time NHLer Yanic Perreault. However, unlike his father, Jacob is very much an offense-first forward capable of racking up points. He unquestionably has one of the best shots in the draft, which could help his draft stock despite having some deficiencies in other areas of his game.