Not since Connor McDavid was selected first overall in the 2015 National Hockey League draft has a Canadian-born player been the number one selection. Alexis Lafreniere will quite likely end that streak when the 2020 NHL draft takes place next June at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The 2019 draft saw the Western Hockey League dominate the early picks from the Canadian Hockey League. Such will not be the case in the 2020 NHL draft, as the WHL will be taking a back seat to both the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League. Here are some of the players to watch from the CHL.
Alexis Lafreniere won the Michel Briere Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the QMJHL. The 6’1″ 192 lb forward was a dominant force this past season scoring 37 goals and 105 points in 61 games for the Rimouski Oceanic. Lafreniere has all the offensive weapons you could ask for. He is determined, an explosive skater, has great vision and a high hockey IQ. Puck possession, terrific balance and great pair of hands are also some of his stronger attributes. Hockey Canada will be counting heavily on Lafreniere for the 2020 World Junior Championships, which will be held in the Czech Republic.
The Halifax Mooseheads continue to develop high-end talent and Justin Barron is no exception. The mobile right-handed defenseman shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear his name at the 2020 NHL Draft. Barron had nine goals and 41 points this past season. His prolific play at both the Memorial Cup and the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup has earned him an invite to Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp, July 27 – August 4 in Plymouth, Michigan.
Chicoutimi Sagueneens center Hendrix Lapierre is ranked #14 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS. He enjoyed a solid rookie campaign in the QMJHL registering 45 points in 48 games played. Exceptional playmaking skills combined with elite vision and speed make Lapierre a treat to watch. The Gatineau, Quebec native will most likely have his talents on display for Team Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia.
Born in Neuchatel, Switzerland, but having dual Canadian citizenship, Theo Rochette will also be among the 44 players invited to the 2019 National Men’s Summer Under-18 Selection Camp for Canada. Rochette combines quick feet with high-end vision and hockey sense to provide an offensive threat each time he’s on the ice. He will undoubtedly, along with teammate and fellow center Lapierre, provide Chicoutimi with an exciting one-two punch down the middle. Rochette may very well be another of the many QMJHL players to go in the first round of the 2020 NHL draft.
Mavrik Bourque is another of the top prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft from the QMJHL. Bourque had a solid rookie season for a struggling Shawinigan Cataractes team, chipping in with 25 goals. A solid two-way game with an outstanding wrist shot both in terms of accuracy and release are his best assets. Bourque will also be vying for a spot on the Canadian roster for the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Sudbury Wolves star Quinton Byfield is the top prospect from the OHL for the 2020 NHL draft and is a consensus top-five pick. At 6’4″ 214 lbs, Byfield uses his size and exceptional puck skills to dominate his opponents. He was named CHL Rookie of the Year amassing 29 goals and 61 points in 64 games. Byfield has the hands and shot to become an elite goal scorer and the size and strength to be a puck possession monster down low.
Future Considerations lists Cole Perfetti as their #8 ranked prospect for the 2020 NHL draft. The Saginaw Spirit center led his team in scoring as a rookie, with an incredible 37 goals and 37 assists. Both totals led all rookies in the OHL last season. The Whitby, Ontario native will most assuredly help bolster a very talented Canadian roster for the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Erie Otters defenseman Jamie Drysdale should challenge Justin Barron as the premier defender available for the 2020 NHL draft. Drysdale was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team, receiving the most voting points of all players selected. He will attend the U18 Canadian National Team summer development camp and will add his talents to the star-studded lineup.
Austrian-born Marco Rossi had a tremendous rookie season in the OHL. The Ottawa 67’s center recorded 29 goals and 65 points in just 53 games. Rossi was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team finishing second in voting for centers behind only Byfield. With his elite skating ability and excellent edge-work, Rossi is an electrifying player to watch.
Sarnia Sting center Jacob Perreault is the son of NHL journeyman Yanic Perreault. I watched him play several times last season on OHL live, while tuning in to watch Canucks prospect Mitch Eliot play. Perreault found the back of the net 30 times last season and was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team.
Prince Albert Raiders defenseman Kaiden Guhle uses his 6’3″ frame and his strong skating ability to quickly close gaps in the neutral zone. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native has a solid two-way game, has good hockey sense and continually exhibits a hard-working attitude. His Memorial Cup experience should help him earn a spot on Team Canada’s roster for the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup this summer.
Kamloops Blazers forward Connor Zary had an outstanding showing at the U18 World Championships in April. He preceded that tournament with a tremendous WHL season where he recorded 67 points in 63 games. He uses his uncanny anticipation and hockey instincts in all zones. Zary is one of the best two-way players available for the 2020 NHL draft.
At only 5’9″ 154 lbs, Connor McClennon is somewhat undersized even by today’s standards. But he is a dynamic offensive force that creates excitement each time he is on the ice. The Wainwright, Alberta native should see some time on a line with Peyton Krebs for the Winnipeg Ice, once Krebs returns from his Achilles injury. McClennon led the U17 World Hockey Championships in both goals ( 8 ) and points ( 11 ) this past season.
Ranked #31 by Future Considerations for the 2020 NHL draft is Brandon Wheat Kings right-handed defenseman, Braden Schneider. Schneider was named one of the top three players for Canada at last summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. His overall steady defensive play was instrumental in Canada winning the gold medal. At 6’2″ 209 lbs, Schneider has the size and strength to be able to physically handle the front of the net.
Edmonton Oil Kings left-winger Jake Neighbours is ranked #41 on Future Considerations summer rankings for the 2020 NHL draft. Neighbours will be attending the U18 Men’s National Team selection camp this summer with the hope of being named to Canada’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup roster. Neighbours is a competitive forward who offers both offensive skill and physicality. He skates extremely well and his play without the puck is advanced for his age.
The 2020 NHL draft is one of the strongest drafts in years, in terms of depth of top-end talent. The CHL will be well represented. The players listed above are just a few of the many prospects to watch for in next June’s NHL entry draft.
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