Tue. Nov 24th, 2020

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By The OilKnight 01/28/2020

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If you have followed me for awhile on social media, you’ll know I highly value what I call NHL translatable skills when it comes to scouting prospects. In particular, the most important to me are: Skating (speed/agility/acceleration), Smarts (also known as hockey IQ or hockey sense), Puck skills (stickhandling/creativity), Shot (release & accuracy), and Stats (production). I also lean heavily towards players with a high compete level. Some call it determination, work ethic or “motor”. If a prospect is a great skater, with a high hockey IQ, good puck skills & a relentless work ethic, odds are I’m going to be a fan of his game. Stats are important but typically I don’t care HOW MANY POINTS a player gets, I care more about HOW they get them. I use tiers in terms of production and work from there based on the translatable skills.

On the flipside, I also factor in Red flags in my analysis and penalize a player’s ranking accordingly. Let’s face it, not EVERY SINGLE prospect drafted in the 1st round all make it. Typically, if you go back over the years you can point to a few things that directly caused the player to fail at the NHL level. All the top prospects had skill & Junior production, but likely also had red flags that were underestimated or ignored. The red flags I look for: Lack of compete level (poor effort, lazy, loses too many battles), poor skating (including speed), poor decision making (low hockey IQ), Inconsistency (takes shifts & games off), and too much flashiness.

Now the last one is a much debated topic among draft enthusiasts. For me, NHL players are too good to fall for the behind the back, spin-o-rama, no-look passes that many prospects can get away with in Junior. Sure, it might work the odd time but it’s more likely a player like that will become a turnover machine – which drives coaches crazy and gets you stapled to the bench. So, skill & creativity is definitely a good thing, but too many unnecessary low percentage, high risk plays are a red flag for me because they don’t translate well to the NHL usually. Really, that falls under decision making. And I don’t care what anyone says, there is ABSOLUTELY a difference between a “Junior style game” and a “Pro style game”. Just because a prospect has a monster Draft+1 year doesn’t mean they are automatically going to succeed at the next level.

So that’s how I come up with these rankings. Keep those in mind when reviewing the list. I’m confident having viewed countless games in all 3 Major Junior leagues that most of these Top 31 will all be drafted in the first 2 rounds of the 2020 Draft. Again, this list isn’t necessarily where I think each player will be drafted in order but who ranks as the best prospects in terms of potential NHL impact down the road. Enjoy.

RANKPOSNAMELEAGUEHTWTMovement (up/down)
1LWAlexis LafreniereQMJHL6’1″192
2RDJamie DrysdaleOHL5’11”170
3CQuinton ByfieldOHL6’4″214
4CMarco RossiOHL5’9″179
5RWDawson MercerQMJHL6’0179
6RWJacob PerreaultOHL5’11”198
7LWCole PerfettiOHL5’10”185
8CJan MysakOHL6’0″176
9LWVasily PonomarevQMJHL6’0″176
10RWTyson FoersterOHL6’1194
11LDKaiden GuhleWHL6’3187
12RWTy TullioOHL5’9161
13RWJack QuinnOHL5’11176
14CSeth JarvisWHL5’10172
15LDRyan O’RourkeOHL6’2181
16CMavrik BourqueQMJHL5’10165
17CConnor ZaryWHL6’0181
18LDLukas CormierQMJHL5’10170
19RWOzzy WiesblattWHL5’10183
20LWAntonio StrangesOHL5’10170
21CJean-Luc FoudyOHL5’11168
22RDWill VilleneuveQMJHL6’1163
23LDJeremie PoirierQMJHL6’0192
24CRidly GreigWHL5’11159
25LWJake NeighboursWHL5’11201
26RWJaromir PytlikOHL6’3196
27RDJustin BarronQMJHL6’2187
28RDBraden SchneiderWHL6’2209
29CTristen RobinsWHL5’10174
30LWWill CuylleOHL6’2201
31CHendrix Lapierre***QMJHL6’0″181

Other notables: Martin Chromiak, Brandon Coe, James Hardie, Luke Evangelista, Ethan Cardwell, Evan Vierling, Pavel Novak, Justin Sourdif, Connor McClennon, Lukas Svejkovsky, Ryan Francis.

*** Lapierre is injured having suffered his 3rd concussion in the last year. His status is still uncertain hence the ranking.

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