The 2020 NHL draft, whenever it takes place, will feature a great deal of talent from Canadian Hockey League teams. Here are some of the top available prospects from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League;
The combination of elite skills and an ultra compete-level make Alexis Lafreniére the number one prospect for the 2020 NHL draft. He possesses a deadly shot, to go along with great vision and extraordinary playmaking ability. Lafreniére has the rare ability to dominate any style of game. Whether the game dictates a physical style of play or one which is up-tempo, he is equally efficient at both.
A tremendous work ethic with high-level awareness are characteristics that stand out when watching Dawson Mercer play. He maneuvers exceptionally well while maintaining puck possession in traffic, along with the capability to find open space in the offensive zone. Mercer is an above-average skater who passes the puck with authority. He is likely to be selected in the 15-20 range and should be the second or third forward from the QMJHL to come off the board.
Undoubtedly one of the most creative and best playmakers available in the 2020 NHL draft class. Hendrix Lapierre is a top 15 talent. However, he could slip in the draft due to suffering three concussions in the past year. He also needs to improve his skating to have success at the next level.
A right-handed shooting defenceman with exceptional mobility makes Justin Barron a much sought after commodity. The Halifax Moosehead’s rearguard is equally good at both ends of the ice. Barron’s excellent skating ability allows him to exercise tight gap control. His keen hockey sense is evident both in knowing when to pinch and in finding teammates with an outlet pass. Barron is likely to hear his name called in the 20-30 range at the 2020 NHL draft.
The offensive skills and instincts of Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman Jérémie Poirier are undeniable. His ability to stickhandle is exceptional, particularly for a defender. His passes are crisp and generally on target. However, his lateral mobility and defensive zone coverage are suspect and will need to improve to be successful at the next level.
A very high hockey IQ and elite vision contribute to Shawinigan Cataractes’ center Mavrik Bourque being one of the top offensive threats in the QMJHL. His 71 points in 49 games are a testament to his exceptional offensive skills. Additionally, Bourque offers a responsible two-way game. However, he will need to gain strength to be more efficient in puck battles and improve the velocity of his shot.
Another member of the Cataractes with exceptional offensive instincts is Vasili Ponomaryov. The Russian forward has put up decent, but not overwhelming numbers in the QMJHL this season, having recorded 49 points in 57 games. His wrist shot is both hard and accurate, and he displays excellent hands, particularly in tight to the net. Ponomaryov likes to play an up-tempo style of game. While he can be very shifty, his overall skating is just average, as is his vision and playmaking skills. He is a probable late first or more likely early second-round selection.
Charlottetown Islanders’ defenceman Lukas Cormier is an excellent skating, puck-moving defender. His transition game is exceptional, with the ability to either skate it out or make a quality pass. Cormier’s mobility is terrific, allowing him to have superb one on one coverage and tight gap control. His offensive instincts are top-notch, yet controlled, as his decision making is solid. Cormier is likely to be selected in the 25-50 range.
Hard work and dedication have been instrumental in the consistent improvement in the overall game of undersized forward Ryan Francis. The Cape Breton Eagles’ star has produced this past season at a surprising rate, posting 72 points in 61 games. His best assets are his high-end vision and hockey IQ, which attribute to him being a superb playmaker. His skating is also above average, and he competes hard. Francis has been a steady riser on most draft boards throughout the season. He is likely to hear his name called in the third or fourth round but perhaps sooner if teams aren’t concerned with drafting a small centerman.
Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter
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