Alexis Lafrenière, a left wing with Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters for the 2020 NHL draft.
The draft was scheduled for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, but was postponed due to the coronavirus. On Wednesday, Central Scouting revealed its final list for North American and International skaters and goaltenders. Left wing Tim Stützle of Mannheim in Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga and Yaroslav Askarov of Neva St. Petersburg in Russia’s second division are No. 1 in the final list of International skaters and goalies, respectively.
When the NHL paused its season March 12 due to the coronavirus, the Red Wings were in last place with 39 points and held the No. 1 pick. The Blackhawks hold the ninth overall pick. The NHL draft lottery, which helps determine the final order of the first 15 picks, has also been postponed to a later date.
Lafrenière (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) led the QMJHL with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games, and led Canadian Hockey League players with a 2.15 points per game average. The 18-year-old also had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in five games and was named the most valuable player and top forward while helping Canada win the 2020 World Junior Championship on Jan. 5. He missed two games during the preliminary round with a left knee injury, but returned for the playoff round to score six points (three goals, three assists) in three games.
Joining Lafrenière in the top five are No. 2 center Quinton Byfield (6-4, 215) of Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League, No. 3 defenseman Jamie Drysdale (5-11, 175) of Erie in the OHL, No. 4 defenseman Jake Sanderson (6-1, 185) of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team and No. 5 center Cole Perfetti (5-10, 177) of Saginaw in the OHL. Sanderson moved up seven spots from the midterm rankings to find himself in the top five.
Byfield, a powerful and speedy skater with a diverse skill set, was the OHL’s top scoring 17-year-old with 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) in 64 games. He had one assist and averaged 8:41 of ice time in seven games for Canada at the 2020 WJC. He could make history by becoming the first black player taken in the top three.
Drysdale, a right-handed shot, is the projected top defenseman available due to his ability to drive play with his skating and hockey sense. He was 13th among OHL defensemen with 47 points (nine goals, 38 assists) in 49 games. He had three points (one goal, two assists) and averaged 11:38 of ice time in seven games for Canada at the 2020 WJC.
Sanderson, a left-handed shot, had 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 47 games for NTDP and 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 19 USHL games. The North Dakota signee is a strong defensive-minded defenseman that has improved his offensive game this season. He’s the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson.
Perfetti’s 111 points (37 goals, 74 assists) in 61 games were second in the OHL to Marco Rossi’s 120 points in 56 games. The Austrian-born Rossi, who moved down one spot from the midterm rankings to No. 6, also led the OHL with 81 assists.
Nico Daws (6-3, 202) of Guelph in the OHL is the No. 1 North American goalie. Drew Commesso (6-1, 180) of the NTDP is No. 2.
Daws was 23-8-3-3 with a 2.48 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and five shutouts in 38 OHL games. He also played two games for Canada at the World Juniors. The Blackhawks initially invited him to the NHL Prospect Tournament this past September in Traverse City, Michigan, but he did not attending.
Commesso, a Boston University signee, was 14-19 with a 3.24 GAA, .886 save percentage and three shutouts in 43 games.
North American rankings
No. 1: LW, Alexis Lafrenière (QMJHL Rimouski)
No. 2: LH-C, Quinton Byfield (OHL Sudbury)
No. 3: RH-D, Jamie Drysdale (OHL Erie)
No. 4: LH-D, Jake Sanderson (NTDP)
No. 5: LH-C, Cole Perfetti (OHL Saginaw)
No. 1: Nico Daws (OHL Guelph)
No. 2: Drew Commesso (NTDP)
No. 3: Samuel Hlavaj (QMJHL Sherbrooke)
No. 4: Will Cranley (OHL Ottawa)
No. 5: Garin Bjorklund (WHL Medicine Hat)