It’s mock draft SZN. We’re sorry. Still we’ve decided to add to the noise of the mock draft season with our own mock draft. We did so knowing that most of you will immediately go to pick 15, see who the Leafs picked, check to see where the player you wanted the Leafs to pick was picked, and be done with this after briefly calling us idiots on the way out. Far enough. Mock drafts are pretty self indulgent, but for a lot of us their pretty fun too, and if there’s any takeaway from it, when you get a few different people picking with either similar players or differing views, you sometimes get a more accurate list than you’d get with a straight forward draft ranking, so here you go…
1. (NYR) Alexis Lafreniere W
What else is there to be said? Obvious pick is obvious.
2. (LA) Quinton Byfield C
Byfield has all the tools to be a premier center in the NHL. He’s a big kid who skates very well, has outstanding vision to go with excellent puck handling skills, and the smarts to be a force at both ends of the rink. He doesn’t play overly physical for his size but uses his body well to protect pucks and drive the net. There has been talk that LA has considered Tim Stutzle with the second overall pick, but Byfield’s potential as a franchise center is too good to pass up.
3. (OTT) Lucas Raymond W
This might be a bit of a surprise pick, but it’s a decision to go with skill instead of position, and Raymond is more skilled than Stutzle. I’m not sure you make this gamble if you aren’t picking again at 5th overall, but the Sens are and will still have a shot to take a solid center.
4. (DET) Tim Stutzle C
Going into this draft, I was really hoping that one of Lafreniere, Byfield, or Stutzle would fall to the Detroit pick, and when Stutzle went unselected at 3rd, it was an easy choice. He’s a player with a really high ceiling and a high chance to hit it, and while the Wings didn’t win the lottery, they still win with this pick.
5. (OTT) Marco Rossi C
The chance for Ottawa to take a player from the 67s probably has some appeal, but the fact that Rossi is also the third best center available in the draft makes it a no brainer. Frankly I’d consider Rossi over Stutzle anyway as I’d prefer removing the risk of not knowing how a player from the DEL will do in North America.
6. (ANA) James Drysdale D
While Anaheim isn’t exactly in desperate need of defensemen right now, their group are all either getting old or on the trading block, so they’ll be needing a top pair defenseman down the road, and Drysdale provides exactly that. Drysdale is an excellent skater and passer, and would probably help quarterback the Ducks blueline for years to come.
7. (NJ) Alexander Holtz W
The Devils have a solid 1-2 punch down the middle with a pair of former first overall picks in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes but the organization is short on offensively talented wingers to play alongside them. Enter Alexander Holtz, the best pure goal scorer in the draft. He is a supremely talented offensive player with excellent puck skills and an absolutely deadly shot. Could form a deadly duo with either of Hughes or Hischier in the future.
8. (BUF) Anton Lundell C
Anton Lundell is one of the most mature and NHL ready prospects in the draft. He is a well rounded, two-way center with an advanced defensive game for his age. There have been questions about his offensive upside but Lundell thinks the game at a high level, moves the puck efficiently, and has a good wrist shot. Considered a safe pick, Buffalo would benefit from the stability Lundell would add to their forward group in the future.
9. (MIN) Cole Perfetti W
There’s been a lot of smoke around Perfetti going as high as #4 to Detroit, so this would be a real steal for Minnesota at #9. For a team that is generally devoid of offensive stars (c’mon Kaprizov) and depth up the middle, this feels like a match made in heaven for the Wild. Perfetti oozes offensive creativity and hockey IQ and is a threat both as a shooter and a passer. Some question whether he will play C or W at the NHL level.
10. (WPG) Jake Sanderson D
Jake Sanderson is a great all-around skater who easily projects as a top-four NHL defenseman. Sanderson isn’t offensively gifted like many other defensemen who get drafted in the top 15 but his ability to tilt possession in his team’s favour drives his value. He would join Ville Heinola and Josh Morrissey as the pillars for Winnipeg’s left-side of defense for the foreseeable future.
11. (NAS) Yaroslav Askarov G
In my opinion, there is a clear top eleven in this draft, and Askarov was the last to fall in this mock draft. Askarov possesses a rare blend of athleticism and poise in goal. He could be one of the best goaltending prospects the league has seen in a while. While there is a level of risk that is associated with drafting a goalie this high, there is no question as to how crucial this position is to team success. Askarov is a potential franchise-changer and I think Nashville would be able to move away from 35-year-old Pekka Rinne in order to move on to a Saros/Askarov tandem for the next few years.
12. (FLA) Jack Quinn W
While it may not seem like Florida is starving for offense, they may be losing both Hoffman and Dadonov, so adding a player like Quinn to the team will be helpful as the team looks to be a consistent contender for the first time this millenium. His hockey IQ and strong transition play, along with his excellent shooting and passing will make him a big threat for the Panthers should he pan out.
13. (CAR) Seth Jarvis C
To quote Scott Maxwell, “Tulsky really going all out on relying on computers, huh?”
Jarvis is arguably the best center remaining on the draft board or at the very least the most offensively gifted of the remaining centers, and arguably he’s a pretty good reward for buying out Patrick Marleau for the Leafs.
14. (EDM) Dawson Mercer F
Just another example of a Newfoundlander going to Alberta to work. Mercer, who projects as a “safe” pick, is touted as one of the best stick-handlers in the draft and is lauded for his on-ice vision. He would become the 2nd-highest ranked RW in the Oilers prospect pipeline, behind Jesse Puljujarvi, who may not be around much longer.
15. (TOR) Rodion Amirov W
The Russian left-winger Amirov is one of my personal favourite players in the first round. He can play on both ends of the ice, is active with and without the puck, and tends to make smart plays that positively benefit his team. He can hold his own in battles along the boards, especially on the forecheck, and doesn’t shy away from playing in tight. The Leafs current management has targeted players that possess multiple tools in their toolbox and Amirov fits this bill. Toronto does have a plethora of great forwards, but with the majority of the top-six locked up to big contracts, they are going to need good, cheap forwards to fill out their bottom-six in the next few years. Amirov has the potential to get into the NHL sooner rather than later. On my personal draft ranking, I have Amirov at 12 as I think he carries a smaller amount of risk with a higher ceiling than the other players in the 12-20 range.
16. (MTL) Hendrix Lapierre C
So I picked the French guy for Montreal, big surprise. What is surprising is that this probably won’t be a Louis LeBlanc situation and Hendrix could be a real player. The Habs need depth down the middle and arguably if Lapierre was healthy last year he would have gotten consideration earlier in the draft.
17. (CHI) Dylan Holloway C
Holloway is one of the oldest players in the draft but his mix of skill, skating and the intensity in which he plays with makes him an intriguing pick for Chicago at 17. Holloway is a strong puck-carrier and has the ability to make the right play once he’s entered the zone. He’s a puck-thief who can use his body, stick, or anticipation to generate takeaways in all three zones. Holloway can morph into any role and will do what it takes for his team to win. Holloway at 17 would be great value for the Blackhawks.
18. (NJ) Braden Schneider D
Having already added an elite offensive talent to the ranks, the Devils take the plunge on defensive stalwart Braden Schneider. He is a big, strong kid who plays hard nosed game. Schneider excels at keeping opposing forwards to the outside on the rush and reads the play well in coverage. He isn’t the quickest player but he has decent foot speed for his size, and moves the puck out of his zone efficiently.
19. (CGY) Connor Zary C
Calgary chooses one of the best players in the Western Hockey League last season. Zary falls between 10 to 25 on experts’ draft rankings, so this falls right around the midpoint of those projections. Zary is one of the oldest 2020-eligible players which means he may be physically-ready for the pros quicker than his fellow draftees. He’s unafraid of the dirty areas of the offensive zone and is considered a 200-foot player. Fun fact: his birthdate makes him eligible for the AHL in 2021-22.
20. (NJ) Jacob Perreault F
Outside of Holtz, who the Devils selected 7th overall in this mock draft, Perreault might have the next best shot of any prospect this year. He gets his shot off from everywhere and has the ability to beat goaltenders from distance. His skating is good, not great, and he has the passing ability to find teammates in space when the shot opportunity isn’t there. The Devils should be very pleased to add another player with such high offensive upside at this point in the draft
21. (CBJ) Mavrik Bourque C
Bourque is an undersized, elusive center who plays a high energy game. He can stick handle through traffic before finding a teammate for a scoring opportunity and has the ability to finish plays off himself as well. Bourque combines good hockey sense and a strong work ethic to make life hard on his opponents in the defensive zone, as well as the offensive zone.
22. (NYR) Noel Gunler W
The majority of Gunler’s value is in his raw skill-set. He’s big, has one of the better shots in the first round, and has underrated playmaking ability. At the NHL level, I don’t think you will see him navigating through crowded neutral zones with the puck but he has the potential to add some value in transition. He will help an NHL team offensively at 5v5 and on the powerplay but it might take him some time to get to that stage.
23. (PHI) Kaiden Guhle D
Philly adds another threat to their blueline, as Guhle uses his skating to help him excel at both ends of the ice. He uses it to help pressure his opponents in the defensive zone, and is never one to shy from jumping up into the rush to create a goal, some offensive creativity the Flyers lacked in their 2020 playoff run.
24. (WAS) Marat Khusnutdinov F
Having a skilled Russian fall to when Washington was picking seems a little too on the nose, but here we are. I feel like I’m just picking for cliche, like I did with taking Lapierre for the Habs, but Khusnutdinov might be undersized, but also has been doing quite well in the KHL, and could be a solid offensive option in the NHL as well.
25. (COL) John-Jason Peterka F
Peterka will make a great addition to the Avalanche’s offense with his relentless forecheck. His Zach Hyman-esque ability to never quit when the puck isn’t on his stick would an extra layer to that Avalanche team, while his skill will allow him to do so without neutralizing their offense.
26. (STL) Tyson Foerster C
Skating might be an issue, but there is no question the offense produced at the junior level by Foerster. Given he’ll have time to develop, and players have fixed their skating before, taking a chance of an offensive talent in the later part of the first round seems like a reasonable idea.
27. (ANA) Brendan Brisson F
With this pick, Anaheim adds one of the smartest players in the draft, as his ability to make quick decisions in high pressure situations, and often the right situations, provides some solid upside here. This makes for another solid piece for the Ducks, as they come out of the first round with arguably the best defenseman, and a high upside forward.
28. (OTT) Jan Mysak W
I’m not comfortable with the fact that Ottawa is leaving the first round of this mock draft with Raymond, Rossi, and Mysak. That could potentially be their second line next season let alone what they could turn into down the road. Mysak has done well in the Czech league and adjusted well to the OHL last season. 15 goals in 22 games for the Bulldogs is nothing to sneeze at.
29. (VGK) William Wallinder D
Vegas adds another Swedish William to their roster. Wallinder came in at #29 on our consensus draft rankings and was ranked between 14 and 73 by experts, so opinions vary on this player, which is the expectation for players taken this deep in the draft. The 6’4″ defender possesses an offensive-leaning skillset and has work to do on his defensive coverage, but his physical game is already strong.
30. (DAL) Lukas Reichel W
Lukas Reichel is the nephew of former Leaf Robert Reichel, and like his uncle is better known for his playmaking than his scoring. Lukas’ skating is outstanding and he shows high-end creativity and patience with the puck on his stick. Whereas Robert was defensively astute, Lukas has development to do in this area of this game.
31. (SJ) Lukas Cormier D
It always feels like Lukas Cormier is making the smart play. He doesn’t have any particular skill that jumps out at you but his hockey IQ is what really makes him an undervalued pick. He’s on the smaller-end but is strong on his skates, and defends his line well. Cormier has a good shot at being one of the five best defensemen in this class, though I don’t think he will be drafted as such on Tuesday.
How about that? An unprecedented run on Lukas’ to close out the first round. For the most part we weren’t too adventurous and stuck closely to the consensus draft rankings, with Khusnutdinov and Cormier being the only two players who climbed into the first round from our consensus rankings.
Of course the decision to take Amirov with the Leafs pick is one that I’m sure you’re most interested in, and of course we’ve got more on Rodion here:
There will be plenty of things that we didn’t account for in this. The variance of each team’s draft lists, they’re philosophies towards different leagues, their confidence in their abilities to develop certain players, and of course, human error. All those will factor in to the actual draft being decidedly less straight forward than this one.