Go GTS Special Feature: Fantasy Draft – Picking NHL Prospects – The 2020 NHL Entry Draft is running a lot later than we’re used to seeing, and it will have a very different environment with the picks coming virtually; but there will be no change in meaningfulness for the players selected, nor intensity for the general managers who will be under the gun to make the best pick from remaining players.
In recognition of this important day on the NHL calendar, we decided to put two of our hockey writers – Russ Cohen and Jon Waldman – to the test. Each scribe was tasked with putting together a lineup of future stars, with any player who was part of 2019-20 Upper Deck AHL or 2019-20 Upper Deck CHL up for grabs. Each writer had to select three forwards, one defenceman and one goalie, with a final pick from anywhere on the rink.
Here’s the breakdown from the draft floor.
|Russ Cohen||Jon Waldman|
|Goaltender|| Kaapo Kahkonen – Had a terrific season for the Iowa Wild, the AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild. He played 34 AHL games with a .927 save percentage and got in five games with the parent club when injures occurred, going 3-1 during that stint. He also won the AHL’s outstanding goaltender award.
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|Dustin Wolf – Calgary’s scouts look like geniuses right now. Wolf went 75-25-4 over the last two seasons with the Everett Silvertips. That he went in the 7th round of the draft last year is insane. Those two seasons, by the way, saw a GAA well under 2.00.
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|Defence|| Bowen Byram – In my estimation, he is one of the best defensemen yet to play in the NHL. Two years ago, he scored 26 goals for the Vancouver Giants. He’s only 19, and he was a black ace for the Avalanche during the playoffs. His skating is tremendous, and his puck-moving is slick.
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|Jamie Drysdale – You can’t go wrong putting Drysdale on your team. In any other draft year, this Erie Otters vet would be a possible number one pick. From the blueline, Drysdale counted 47 points (including 38 assists) in 49 games last year. He also has the leadership potential needed!
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|Forward 1||Alexis Lafreniere – The future New York Rangers star would be my #1 pick to start a brand-new hockey team. His vision is elite, his skating is great, he will instantly be one of the best passers in the NHL and eventually a perennial all-star. His occasional physical play will keep defenders at arm’s length.
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|Josh Norris – Norris was among the point leaders in the AHL this year and looks to have just as strong a presence in the NHL next season. He was a big pickup for the Senators in the Erik Karlsson swap and now looks to make a big impression in the big show.
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|Forward 2|| Quinton Byfield – He’s a natural center with speed, physicality, and a great shot because of his fast hands, as he showed with the Sudbury Wolves. He can turn defense into offense. He has a boatload of upside, and that makes my top line very formidable with him and Lafreniere on the left side.
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|Lucas Elvenes – You may not have heard of Elvenes yet, but soon enough this Vegas Golden Knights will hit the stage in the NHL. In his first year of North American hockey, Elvenes counted 48 points in 59 games. Hell be a big part of the future for this perennial Cup contender.
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|Forward 3|| Marco Rossi – This Austrian prospect topped all CHL scorers with 120 points while with the Ottawa 67’s. He has top-line center skills, a physical side, and a great passer who knows where to go around the net to get goals as well. He may play in the NHL right away.
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|Jack Quinn – Quinn was one of two players to break the 50 goal mark in the CHL this year, but just as importantly he had a monster plus-minus rating of +48 while only taking 32 PIMs in 61 games. This young gun is going to be a top-10 pick at the Draft.
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|Final Pick|| Cole Perfetti – He’s the smartest player in the 2020 NHL Draft. His hockey I.Q. is off the charts, his skating is excellent, he is a confident playmaker, and he can pop in 37 goals and 111 points like he did for the Saginaw Spirit this past season.
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|Dawson Mercer – This draftee in wait had 60 points in 42 games last year, but more importantly his hockey I.Q. is exceedingly high and he’s versatile enough to play in any situation. He’s also been compared to Patrice Bergeron.
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Go GTS Special Feature: Fantasy Draft – Picking NHL Prospects – Image Gallery – Russ Cohen’s picks
Go GTS Special Feature: Fantasy Draft – Picking NHL Prospects – Image Gallery – Jon Waldman’s picks
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