The 2019 draft was seen as considerably of a step again for the CHL, draft-wise. It was normally seen as the perfect growth path by prospects, however the consideration shifted to the facility of USA Hockey’s Nationwide Staff Improvement Program because of the likes of Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, Cole Caufield and Spencer Knight, amongst others. Of word, solely 4 OHL gamers have been chosen within the first spherical in comparison with the seven in 2018 – three of them (Andrei Svechnikov, Barrett Hayton and Evan Bouchard) going within the prime 10.
However the CHL will get a giant increase this season because of the highest two prospects for the 2020 draft, Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield. Contemporary off of a gold medal on the World Junior Championship with Canada, Lafreniere alone has been a favourite of scouts for the previous 4 to 5 years and, regardless of preventing by means of accidents, he’s been the CHL’s greatest participant from the get-go this season with QMJHL Rimouski, notching 73 factors in 34 video games only a season faraway from a 105-point marketing campaign. Byfield has come into his personal this season with OHL Sudbury, doing lots for the Wolves with out a lot round him. Collectively, the 2 prospects lead a gaggle that might see 15 to 17 CHL gamers chosen within the first spherical of the 2020 draft, thought of by many to be the perfect iteration since 2003 – the draft that produced Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Brent Seabrook, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns and Patrice Bergeron, amongst others.
Thursday’s Kubota CHL/NHL High Prospects Sport in Hamilton, Ont., will give followers their first take a look at the league’s prime prospects multi function place. Lafreniere and Byfield will function captains within the first main sport between the pair. It’s the final outstanding showcase to get the entire group collectively earlier than the playoff stretch run, however a number of the greatest 2002-born gamers might be obtainable for the U-18 World Championship in April (Lafreniere is a late 2001-born ahead, so he won’t be eligible). Others might be chasing the Memorial Cup in hopes of including some further hardware to their résumés earlier than the draft, however showcasing their skills in the direction of a legion of scouts in Hamilton is their precedence proper now.
Utilizing Ryan Kennedy’s newest draft rankings as a base, right here’s a take a look at a number of different prime prospects that may participate in Thursday’s sport – and don’t count on them to attend lengthy to have their names referred to as in the course of the draft in Montreal in June:
Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (RK Rank: Three)Drysdale has been projected to be the primary defenseman taken for the previous three years, and for those who noticed him on the World Junior Championship with Canada earlier this yr, you’d know why. When Bowen Byram missed the semifinal as a result of an sickness, Drysdale crammed in and performed heavy minutes and was considered one of Canada’s greatest gamers within the 5-Zero victory over Finland. Drysdale doesn’t have any clear weaknesses: he can shut your prime gamers down after which take the puck to the opposite finish and make you pay with a fast transfer or a pleasant shot. Assume Byram or Cale Makar in the case of Drysdale’s enjoying fashion, and search for him to go within the prime 5 of the draft in June.
Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (RK Rank: eight)Few forwards are as gifted with the puck as Perfetti is, as proven by his 69 factors in 40 video games to sit down third in OHL scoring. Having Carolina Hurricanes prospect Ryan Suzuki heart Perfetti in Saginaw will solely assist unleash Perfetti’s true potential for the rest of the season. Perfetti is all the time shifting, searching for open spots to shoot from and he can maintain his personal bodily alongside the boards, however he may benefit from a bit extra muscle. Perfetti’s skating continues to enhance, so as soon as he finds out learn how to attain a excessive max pace, Perfetti will be capable of flourish as an NHL sniper – maybe just like Patrick Kane.
Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (RK Rank: 10)Thomas Vanek was one heck of a participant in his prime with the Buffalo Sabres, however Rossi might overtake him as the perfect Austrian in NHL historical past. How, you ask? Whereas Vanek was a real goal-scorer, Rossi leads the OHL with 74 factors in 32 video games with Ottawa and, merely put, is a highlight-reel machine with the puck. Rossi makes use of his excessive prime pace to win races to the puck, and you’ll depend on him to go end-to-end a minimum of as soon as a sport with out problem. A powerful penalty killer, Rossi can play nearly any function requested of him, and that may make versatile within the NHL. He might not be a first-line heart on a variety of NHL groups, but when he’s your second possibility, clear your calendar every spring – you’re going to be busy.
Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (RK Rank: 13)He’s acquired one of many coolest names within the draft, however he’s additionally acquired probably the greatest expertise bases to work with. From October till the beginning of December, Bourque had a 16-game level streak with 29 factors over that span for probably the greatest runs by a 2020 prospect. Heading into the TPG, Bourque was eighth in league scoring with 53 factors, however he has a 15-point benefit over the Cataractes’ second prime scorer. Taking part in on a poor staff hasn’t harm Bourque’s manufacturing, clearly, however he would profit from having higher linemates round him. However given how constantly he units up the fellows round him with out fail, there’s possible extra to Bourque than we’ve seen at this level.
Dawson Mercer, C, Chicoutimi (RK Rank: 23)Mercer is one other polarizing prospect: some assume he’s a top-10 choose, whereas others query whether or not he’ll even land within the first spherical. Mercer has but to play with Chicoutimi since getting traded by Drummondville, however with 42 factors in 26 video games and a visit to the World Junior Championship, Mercer has given scouts lots to take a look at. He’s a high-volume shooter, and you’ll depend on him to win puck battles, however consistency could be a difficulty – for somebody who has a previous as a pure goal-scorer, Mercer is susceptible to lengthy runs with out placing something within the internet. He’s equally expert as a playmaker, so he initiatives as a talented middle-six possibility for an NHL staff sooner or later.
Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (RK Rank: 16)O’Rourke’s two-way sport has taken huge strides this yr. He tied his earlier complete of 22 factors in 62 video games in precisely half the contests this season. O’Rourke is an incredible skater who isn’t afraid to hurry the puck, and he’s all the time preventing to achieve possession of the puck. Bodily, O’Rourke handles himself very effectively, and he’s a strong shot-blocker when wanted, too. He’s a well-rounded possibility heading into the draft: he received’t be your greatest defenseman, however he does sufficient effectively that he’ll have a protracted, profitable profession as your do-it-all second pairing man.
Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (RK Rank: 17)Because the begin of 2018-19, Zary’s 120 factors in 100 video games makes him the fourth highest-scoring U-19 participant within the WHL, 10 factors behind prized Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens. If that doesn’t counsel that Zary, a prolific playmaker and Zero.5 goals-per-game goal-scorer, isn’t going to be a great pickup on the draft, then nothing will. Zary performs at a excessive tempo each shift because of excessive prime pace, and he isn’t restricted to just some strikes with the puck, both, permitting him to get inventive when making an attempt to beat a defenseman. General, he’s a participant that may do a little bit of every thing effectively, and his coaches wish to play him in any scenario – that’s a coach’s dream for a second- or third-line heart. There’s a variety of Elias Lindholm in him.
Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (RK Rank: 18)Scouts and followers alike appear cut up on Guhle: NHL Central Scouting has him because the seventh-ranked North American skater, however many scouts don’t even have him pegged as a first-round prospect. Regardless, the No. 1 choose on the 2017 WHL bantam draft is an unimaginable skater who can transfer the puck effectively from finish to finish and may take over a shift when wanted. His actual energy is the stay-at-home fashion that enables him to play a great shutdown function, and Prince Albert hasn’t hesitated to push Guhle’s boundaries to get probably the most out of him in any scenario. He isn’t lighting it up with 25 factors in 43 video games, and he’ll want a bit extra seasoning earlier than going to the NHL, however Guhle’s fundamental instruments give him sufficient to construct upon.
Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (RK rank: 25)Quinn doesn’t possess a game-breaking potential however, contemplating he can run an influence play and play the function as shooter and passer with the identical effectiveness, that received’t be a difficulty if he makes the NHL as a middle-six possibility. Quinn trails NHL prospects Arthur Kaliyev and Pavel Gogolev (31 every) by only one purpose for the OHL lead, so 45-50 targets as a second-year ahead aren’t out of the query. Quinn wasn’t excessive on anybody’s radar heading into the 2019-20 season, so his offensive explosion has opened some eyes – however his effectiveness away from the puck in his personal zone has improved to make him a extra well-rounded prospect.
Nico Daws, G, Guelph (RK Rank: none)Six months in the past, Nico Daws was simply making an attempt to determine the place he’d play for 2019-20, not in regards to the NHL draft. That shortly modified when Guelph moved its skilled beginning goaltender and put Daws in cost, with the 2000-born child turning into the perfect goalie within the league. Daws made Staff Canada for the World Junior Championship however misplaced the beginning function after the second sport of the event, however he has a 13-Three-1-Three document with 4 shutouts and a .935 save proportion by means of 21 video games this season – so he can’t complain. Daws is a giant goaltender at 6-foot-Four and 203 kilos and strikes very effectively from publish to publish, however his fast glove hand is usually what you discover first. Daws wasn’t a risk for the 2019 draft as a result of a scarcity of enjoying time, however now, he’s the highest goaltending prospect in North America.
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Tags: prospects, nhl draftConnect: Concerning the AuthorSteven EllisSteven Ellis is a Digital Content material Producer for The Hockey Information. He spends his free time listening to music you would not like and watches obnoxiously-long motor races.