While the NHL draft 2020 is still months away, it’s never too soon to get ahead on predicting the top NHL players that are draft prospects. However, before getting into NHL predictions it’s important that you understand everything about the NHL draft.
Understanding aspects such as the NHL draft grades, NHL draft orders, the NHL draft lottery odds and more can be a huge help when predicting NHL draft prospects.
Luckily, there are NHL draft trackers that do the hard work for you. Their predictions let you know which players to keep an eye on, especially if you’re into sports betting. In this handy guide, we’ll go through a quick summary on how the NHL draft works and the top ten NHL draft prospects to keep a lookout for.
How does the NHL draft work?
If you’ve grown up watching hockey and supported your team since your youth, then chances are that you have a good grip on what’s what in the NHL draft. However, for those new to watching hockey, beginners at online sports betting, or from outside of North America, the NHL draft can be quite confusing.
Here we’ve broken it down into a simple explanation that will help you to understand how the NHL draft works, where your favorite team is likely to land up, and which players are the hottest prospects for the 2020 NHL draft.
When does the NHL draft take place?
The NHL draft normally takes place within two or three months after the end of the official hockey season and just a few days after the Stanley Cup. The next NHL draft date is on Friday the 26th of June 2020.
What players are available during the NHL draft?
The NHL draft is where teams from the NHL league can pick the best young hockey players from around the world. Players from North America have to be between the ages of 18 and 20 to be entered into the draft, whereas European players can be between the ages of 18 and 21. 17 years olds can also be drafted if they are turning 18 before September 15 of the draft year.
Most of these players come from junior leagues within Canada, such as OLH, WHL, and QMJHL, American junior leagues such as NCAA, USHL, and USNDP. The young players from Europe are usually drafted from the top Ice Hockey countries such as Finland and Sweden.
How many times can a player enter the NHL draft?
If a player is not picked in the draft during his first year, then they can be re-entered into the draft the next season and hope to be picked. However, if they aren’t picked by a team in their last year of eligibility (20 for North America and 21 for Europe) then they will become an NHL Free Agent. NCAA players are an exception to this rule, as NHL teams retain the rights to college players until 30 days after they’ve finished college.
Not many players will ever make it successfully in the NHL if they haven’t been chosen and have to become a Free Agent after their NHL draft years.
How does the NHL draft order work?
Now that we’ve covered the simple parts of the NHL draft, it’s time to get into the more complicated aspects. The NHL draft order is one of the trickier parts of the draft to get to grips with and it can be incredibly confusing for outsiders to understand.
Firstly, there are 7 rounds within the NHL draft and each of the 31 teams gets to pick a player during every round. Essentially, each team gets to pick 7 players from the draft.
The first round of the draft is largely determined by the NHL draft lottery odds. The lottery is a system that was put in place to ensure that the wealthier, winning teams didn’t always get to pick the cream of the crop and leave the teams lower in the NHL standings with no chance at all of developing the best NHL players.
The NHL draft lottery
The 14 teams in the league take the first 14 picks in the draft according to their points and also the outcome of the lottery. The teams with the lowest points in the league get more chances at winning the lottery.
The first three spots in the lottery are determined in typical lottery-style with the use of ping pong balls. The team who wins the first round will get first pick, the second and third follow suit and then the rest of the teams get the rest of the slots depending on their points. The teams with the lowest points will get to pick before the teams with higher points.
The rest of the picks are then determined according to points and playoffs throughout the system. The Conference finals losers will be assigned the picks 28 and 29. The runner-up in the Stanley Cup is assigned the 30th pick and the Stanley Cup Champions will be assigned pick 31.
From the second to the seventh round of the NHL draft, teams will be able to pick players according to their NHL standings. So, the top team will get to pick first and so on.
The top ten NHL draft prospects for 2020
While it’s early days yet, these are the predictions for the top ten NHL draft aspects that teams will be hoping to pick.
- Alexis Lafreniere: Alexis is a 6-foot-1, 196-pound Candian winger that has been making his mark as a CHL rookie for a number of years. His playmaking abilities are astounding and his vision and shooting accuracy make him incredibly hard to stop. Lafreniere was the QMJKL’s most valuable player last season and he is going to be the hottest prospect of the NHL draft 2020.
- Quinton Byfield: At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, you might mistakenly think that Byfield is a slow skater. However, this left-handed center has exceptional skills and skates with absolute power. With 31 points through this season’s first 16 games, he is going to be highly sought after in 2020.
- Alexander Holtz: Holtz is a 5-foot-11, 192 pound right-wing that is a prolific goal scorer. He has been unstoppable in his first full season in the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) and has 30 goals and 17 assists in 38 games for Djurgarden Junior.
- Lucas Raymond: At 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, Raymond is an explosive right-wing excelling in the Swedish Hockey League. His hands glide, he has an uncanny ability to find the net and we expect big things from him come the NHL draft.
- Cole Perfetti: Plying his trade in the OHL, Perfetti is an exceptionally skilled forward that has exemplary vision and just the right amount of competitive fight. He was part of the Canadian team that finished second in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and scored eight goals and had four assists in eight games.
- Yaroslav Askarov: Playing in net for St. Petersburg, Russia, Yaroslav is an intimidating presence at 6-foot-3 and 176 pounds. He helped Russia to a first-place finish at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with an average of 1.25 goals-against and a .960 save percentage over four games.
- Jamie Drysdale: Drysdale is a two-way defenseman that is quick on his feet and possesses an uncanny sense of the game. With 40 points in 63 games in the OHL last season, this 5-foot-11, 172 pound set an Eerie record for points by a defenseman in the rookie league.
- Anton Lundell: Playing in Finland’s top professional league, Lundell is a two-way center that has an uncanny ability to read play. The 6-foot-1, 183-pound center had 19 points in Liiga last season.
- Marco Rossi: While Rossi is Austrian born, he’s been playing the OHL where he’s been showing everyone his powerful left-handed shot. An innate hockey IQ and smooth hands makes him an asset to any team.
- Hendrix Lapierre: Another center on the list that possesses unbelievable hockey sense. Lapierre is 5-foot-11, 179 pounds and highly competitive. Playing in the QMJHL, he won the league’s award for rookie of the year for the 2018/2019 season.
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