NHL Releases Mid-Season Rankings for 2020 Draft
Left wing Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic ranks No. 1 among North American skaters for the 2020 NHL Draft, followed by a pair of his Team Canada gold medal-winning teammates from the 2020 World Junior Championship: No. 2 Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves and No. 3 Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters. Tim Stuetzle, a left wing for Mannheim in Germany’s top professional league, ranked as the top international skater as the NHL Central Scouting Bureau today released its mid-season rankings.
Lafreniere (Saint-Eustache, Que.), who was named CHL Player of the Year and QMJHL Most Valuable Player in 2018-19, leads all QMJHL skaters with 24-49—73 in 34 GP in 2019-20. He was a standout at the 2020 World Junior Championship where he was named Most Valuable Player and Best Forward after averaging two points per game for Team Canada (4-6—10 in 5 GP) to help his country capture the gold medal.
If selected first overall, Lafreniere would become the first Quebec-born player taken No. 1 since Marc-Andre Fleury in 2003 and first Canadian-born player to be taken with the first overall pick since Connor McDavid in 2015.
“Lafreniere is an exceptionally smart player with top-end speed and quickness that make him a formidable scoring threat whenever he’s on the ice,” said NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr. “He plays a precision game with his vision, anticipation and ability to execute under pressure which sets him apart from the rest of the Draft class. For three years now, his play in the QMJHL and on the world stage have proven he can be the difference maker and his strength of character shines through as one who battles and competes for the win – he is the definition of a natural.”
Joining Lafreniere atop the rankings for North American skaters are a pair of his Team Canada World Junior gold medal-winning teammates, including No. 2 Quinton Byfield (Newmarket, Ont.), a center for the Sudbury Wolves (OHL).
In addition to Lafreniere and Byfield, No. 3 Jamie Drysdale (Toronto, Ont.), a defenseman for the Erie Otters (OHL), was also part of Team Canada’s gold medal performance at the 2020 World Junior Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Rounding out the top five are center Cole Perfetti (Whitby, Ont.) of the Saginaw Spirit (OHL) and OHL scoring leader Marco Rossi (Feldkirch, Austria) of the Ottawa 67’s.
Stuetzle (Viersen, Germany) is averaging almost a point per game with Mannheim in Germany’s top professional league (5-18—23 in 26 GP) and recorded 0-5—5 in five games for Germany at the 2020 World Junior Championship. He can become the third German-born and trained player picked in the top 10 of the NHL Draft: Leon Draisaitl (No. 3 in 2014) and Mortiz Seider (No. 6 in 2019).
“Stuetzle is a smart, creative, playmaking forward who as a 17-year-old has been able to produce at nearly a point-per-game pace in the German professional league,” said Goran Stubb, Director of NHL Central Scouting’s European Services. “He has an exceptional combination of skating and puck skills that are at an elite level and he’s capable of making precision plays at top speed with a wicked finishing shot. Stuetzle is one of those players with the natural instincts that allow him to control the tempo of a game.”
Joining Stuetzle among the top-five ranked international skaters are four players who have spent the majority of 2019-20 in their country’s top professional league: No. 2 Lucas Raymond (Gothenburg, Sweden), a left wing for Frolunda (SWEDEN), No. 3 Alexander Holtz (Stockholm, Sweden), a right wing for Djurgarden (SWEDEN), No. 4 Anton Lundell (Espoo, Finland), a center for HIFK (FINLAND) and No. 5 Rodion Amirov (Salavat, Russia), a left wing for UFA (RUSSIA).
In the crease, Nicolas Daws (Burlington, Ont.) of the Guelph Storm (OHL) ranks as the top North American goaltender, while Yaroslav Askarov (Omsk, Russia) of Neva St. Petersburg (RUSSIA-2) tops international netminders.
The mid-season rankings feature the top 217 skaters and 31 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 135 skaters and 10 goaltenders internationally.
In its 45th year of operation, NHL Central Scouting provides evaluation and scouting of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting employs seven full-time and 14 part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing internationally, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff at European Scouting Services based in Finland.
Combined, NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Services will see more than 3,000 games this season.
The 2020 NHL Draft will be held June 26-27 at Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens, marking the 27th time the city of Montreal will host the event and the first time since 2009.