Well... that was unexpected. Tonight's draft lottery had a crazy ending that surely won't be forgotten for a while. After Bill Daly started off the night by saying a play-in loser would have a top 3 pick, no one could have expected they would get first overall. Detroit falling to 4 was also hilarious... unless you're a Red Wings fan. It's also a weird coincidence that the past two years the team with the number 1 odds has fallen to 4. I guess its better not to tank. With that said, let's get into the mock draft.
1. Play-In Loser - Alexis Lafreniere
Although we don't know the team yet and can't make this pick off need or team-fit, we have known for a while that Alexis Lafreniere would be the first overall pick, no matter who gets it. After scoring 112 points in 52 games as the Rimouski Oceanic's captain, Lafreniere won his second straight CHL player of the year award, adding to his long list of hardware this season which also includes a World Junior MVP as Canada won gold. There's not much else to say about Lafreniere other than he is one spectacular prospect.
2. Los Angeles Kings - Quinton Byfield
In recent months there has been lots of discussion between Byfield and Stuetzle for the 2nd pick, but in my opinion, I still think Byfield is the better player. He is a very well rounded player that can score at will while also bullying kids on the ice with his rare mix of size and speed. With 82 points in 45 games with Sudbury, he earned himself a spot on Team Canada’s world junior team where he won gold alongside Lafreniere and one other player you will see in a couple of picks. Byfield is a spectacular centerman which will make LA’s prospect pool, which is already arguably the best in the league, that much better.
3. Ottawa Senators - Tim Stützle
Byfield and Stützle will be the second and third picks, it just all comes down to LA’s preference. Either way, it’s a win-win for Ottawa. Although Ottawa would have much rathered Lafreniere, Stützle is a great consolation prize for them as he fills their biggest positional need. Stützle had a great season for Manheim this year, putting up 34 points in 41 games as an 18-year-old playing against men. He also did well playing for Germany in the World Juniors, scoring 5 points in 5 games. He is a great goal scorer and playmaker, and will really help Ottawa fill their center spots in the future. If everything goes right, they could have a great 1-2 punch of centers with Stützle and Colin White on the top two lines.
4. Detroit Red Wings- Lucas Raymond
Raymond is sometimes one of the most underrated players in the class, yet he’s definitely one of it’s best playmakers. Raymond’s bread and butter is his passing, but that doesn’t take credit away from his shot which is deadly when he uses it. He put up solid numbers this year in Sweden and was good for Sweden at the World Juniors scoring 4 points in 7 games. Detroit really needs everything, so Raymond should help with their forward core in the future. I debated having them select Drysdale here, but with Hronek already as the number 1 RHD and a strong defenceman class next year including Owen Power, Carson Lambos, Luke Hughes and Brandt Clarke, I decided to go with Raymond.
5. Ottawa Senators - Jamie Drysdale
Drysdale is easily the best defenceman in this class, with the only person relatively close being Jake Sanderson. Drysdale is one of the best skaters in the class and is a spectacular passer. He is a great offensively-minded defensive while remaining to be solid in his own end. He isn’t the biggest, but he’s very strong on the ice and uses his skating to his advantage against bigger players. Drysdale was a near point per game player as a defenceman with Erie this year, putting up 47 points in 49 games. He also helped Team Canada at the World Juniors, scoring 3 points in 7 games en-route to Canada’s gold. He should really help Ottawa’s defence in the future, making this draft already seem like a win for them with Stützle and Drysdale.
6. Anaheim Ducks - Marco Rossi
Rossi absolutely dominated the OHL this year, leading the league with 120 points while also winning the OHL’s most outstanding player. Rossi, while being on the smaller side at 5”9, is extraordinarily skilled and knows how to produce despite his lack of size. He is a great centerman that can fit into Anaheim’s system alongside bigger players like Maxime Comtois. While sometimes being underrated and undervalued because of his size, Rossi should be a surefire top-10 pick, and whoever gets him should expect excellent products for years to come.
7. New Jersey Devils - Cole Perfetti
Perfetti, like Rossi, can sometimes be underrated because of his size, but he is also no stranger to putting up insane numbers in the OHL. En-route to winning the CHL and OHL Scholastic Player of the Year awards this year, he put up 111 points in 61 games for Saginaw. He is another extremely skilled forward and can dish the puck with ease to create chances for his teammates. With Perfetti, the Devils might run into the problem of too many centers, but alongside former number 1 overall picks Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, I’m sure one of the three can move to the wing and set up a scary top 6 group in New Jersey.
8. Buffalo Sabres - Alexander Holtz
With Jack Eichel getting more frustrated by the year, and a slew of defencemen that will hopefully have bounce-back seasons, Holtz seems like the perfect pick here for Buffalo. He is one of the best goal scorers in this draft, putting up solid numbers playing against men in Sweden. Like Raymond, he also represented Sweden at the World Juniors where he put up 5 points in 7 games. He should fit in great to Buffalo’s top 6 in the future and will be a great running man to Jack Eichel, assuming he’s still there in a couple of years. Sorry Sabres fans.
And there we have it. Here's my mock draft for the picks we know so far. Let me know if you guys would change anything and I'd love to discuss some of your opinions.