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2020 World Junior Championship: Alexis Lafrenière leads NHL draft prospects to watch

Here are some top 2020 draft eligible players to watch in the tournament.

Canada v Slovakia: Exhibition - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

The World Junior Championship under-20 tournament, which begins Thursday through Jan. 5, 2020, in the Czech Republic, is a time to watch the best young players in the world compete against each other on the international stage. For many fans, it’s the first time they’ll be able to watch players on television that they’ve heard or read about within their favorite NHL team’s organization or that they want to see them draft next year.

The Blackhawks have 36 points and sit in 26th place in the 31-team NHL only three games shy of the midway point of the season. Chicago appears destined to be in contention for a top-10 draft pick for the third consecutive season.

Canadian left wing Alexis Lafrenière is the projected No. 1 pick for 2020 NHL draft. The 18-year-old (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) won the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year award in 2019 after he had 105 points (37 goals, 68 assists) in 61 games for Rimouski in the QMJHL. He’s off to a great start this season with 70 points (24 goals, 46 assists) in 32 games. He also played on the top line with Blackhawks rookie forward Kirby Dach, who was not loaned out for the tournament, during the World Junior Summer Showcase in July in Michigan.

Here are seven other top players eligible for next year’s draft in Montreal that will be participating in this year’s World Juniors tournament.

Yaroslav Askarov, G (Russia)

Club team: SKA-Neva (VHL)

Size: 6-3, 176 pounds

Stats: 11-2-3, 2.38 GAA, .922 SV% in 16GP

Quinton Byfield, C (Canada)

Club team: Sudbury (OHL)

Size: 6-4, 215 pounds

Stats: 57 points (22G, 35A) in 30GP

Jamie Drysdale, RH-D (Canada)

Club team: Erie (OHL)

Size: 5-11, 175 pounds

Stats: 31 points (6G, 25A) in 29GP

Alexander Holtz, W (Sweden)

Club team: Djurgårdens IF (SHL)

Size: 5-11, 192 pounds

Stats: 8 points (5G, 3A) in 21GP

Dawson Mercer, RW (Canada)

Club team: Drummondville (QMJHL)

Size: 6-0, 181 pounds

Stats: 42 points (18G, 24A) in 26GP

Lucas Raymond, W (Sweden)

Club team: Frölunda HC (SHL)

Size: 5-11, 170 pounds

Stats: 5 points (3G, 2A) in 16GP

Tim Stüetzle, F (Germany)

Club team: Mannheim (DEL)

Size: 6-1, 185 pounds

Stats: 23 points (5G, 18A) in 25GP