The 2020 NHL Draft is set to take place on October 6th and 7th and many scouts are gearing up for a wild event. There is a lot of chatter of who goes after Alexis Lafreniere, who is expected to be the first overall selection and don the New York Rangers jersey for years to come.
The Montreal Canadiens don’t select until pick 16 as they won their play-in serious against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but later lost in round one to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Habs own a total of 11 picks spread out through seven rounds.
16th overall – Dawson Mercer, RW – Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
There is so much to like about Mercer, who fits well in any role given to him. He found another level on offence this year and became a very important player for Chicoutimi. He’s expected to be among the better players in the QMJHL this year. He projects to be a balanced two-way forward in the NHL and would add serious quality to a position of need for the Canadiens.
47th overall – William Villeneuve, D – St. John (QMJHL)
He may not be around at 47, but better players in previous drafts have fallen and he could be in range for a trade up. Villeneuve, who plays for the St, John’s Sea Dogs, had a very strong progression in year two offensively with an increase of 39 points. The defensemen plays a sound game with a quality first pass and good peripheral vision. He’s got good instincts and it’s what separates him from his peers.
48th overall – Yan Kuznetsov, D – UConn (NCAA)
The Russian defensemen is a quality player in this draft. Known for his storng defensive game, Kuznetsov is no slouch on offence. Though the numbers aren’t there, he does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He has very good overall intelligence and great gap control.
He does well what he is asked to do and has great range on the ice. He could become a much more valuable player on the ice should he unlock an offensive angle to his game.
56th overall – Luke Tuch, LW – Buffalo Jr (OJHL)
A big two-way power forward, Tuch is not as skilled as his brother, Alex, who plays for the Golden Knights, but is tenacious and a hard player to get off the puck. With high level IQ, he does a lot of puck protection and retrieves loose pucks with efficiency. His combination of size and smarts will have him as a prime candidate for the Montreal Canadiens as it is a weakness organizationally.
77th overall – Cross Hanas, LW – Portland (WHL)
A quick and shifty winger, Hanas’ creativity is among the better ones in this draft. His overall judgement and intelligence is great for a lack of high end speed. His skating isn’t bad, but it’s something to work on. Another aspect of his game that needs work is overall commitment to being consistent. He’s good, but he’s not always going 100%.
97th overall – Jack Thompson, D – Sudbury (OHL)
The 6’1 right-shot defensemen is one of the more improved players in this draft. He earned a bigger role on a good Sudbury Wolves team, led by top prospect Quinton Byfield. He not only excelled with more ice time, but provided a stable presence.
He is a great offensive player with a quality shot and decision making with the puck. He’s very aggressive and attacks the net, both during a rush and during cycles in the offensive zone. His overall game needs some work, but he does have time to work on it.
Thompson will also add some overall strength and weight before making the jump to the pros. There is a lot to like about Thompson.
101st overall – Jaromir Pytlik, C – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The towering center out of the Soo is among the more intriguing names going into Tuesday’s draft. Big and physical with impressive puck moving and stick handling skills, he is not like many in his class. The Czech native was an unknown going into his first OHL stint, but he managed 50 points in 56 games before the season was cut short due to coronavirus. He can play in all situations.
108th overall – Pavel Gogolev, LW/RW – Guelph Storm (OHL)
The overager out of Guelph would fit in well with the Laval Rocket when the AHL season begins. He played with Canadiens prospect Cam Hillis last year and both players fed off each other as they were known to be a dynamic duo. Together, they make up an intimidating offensive pair, and should the Habs see a fit, they could certainly claim him this early. He plays a skilled game and attacks the slot often. He can also drive the net if it fits his drive.
135th overall – Gage Goncalves, C – Everett (WHL)
After posting 15 points in 67 games the year before, Goncalves erupted for 71 points in 60 games this past season. The centreman’s game revolves around a high motor and never die attitude. Always hungry for the puck, the forward is in continuous movement.
His overall motto is all about hard work and tenacity which has him at the center of many plays. He may have another gear offensively this year. There is a lot teams would like to see, but they do like what he’s shown so far.
170th overall – Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, C – Chicago (USHL)
He was part of an elite Chicago Steel team in the USHL along with 2020 draft eligible prospects Brendan Brisson and Sam Colangelo. Fontaine produced well over his two seasons, scoring 46 goals and 54 assists for 100 points. He did so in 105 games. He’s an excellent complimentary piece on any line and has a lot of jump and intensity to his game. His name also serves him well.
187th overall – Dylan Garand, G – Kamloops (WHL)
The Canadiens don’t need another goalie, but you never know what happens in this league and Garand is a prospect who may pay dividends, either as a piece to a larger puzzle or as an asset. Goalies tend to be wildcard picks, but there is a lot to like about his over athleticism and demeanour. He’s got a quality glove hand and is very much a highlight-reel type of a goalie. He is very raw, so we don’t know what he’ll look like when he matures in terms of technique and consistency, but he has a gem-like vibe in my opinion.
With the draft being less than a week away, there are a lot of rumours and soundbites going around on who goes where, who drops and what a team is willing to pay to move up and draft their guy. All I know is the Canadiens are in prime position to leave the 2020 Draft with high impact players, and potentially a star in the making, who will help them out when it’s time to win.
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